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MEMP PhD student, Olivia Waring 2018 IDEAS Winner

Friday, May 4, 2018



Olivia Waring, MEMD PhD student, is among the 10 winning teams of this year’s IDEAS Global Challenge competition. IDEAS is MIT’s annual social innovation competition, run by the PKG Center. Olivia received a $10,000 grant to develop an app named DIL, Documenting Indigenous Languages. 

She said: “Over half of the world’s seven thousand languages will likely go extinct within the next century. There is a severe shortage of trained linguists with the expertise to document these endangered tongues before they vanish irrevocably. I have designed and prototyped a mobile app – dubbed “DIL” for “Documenting Indigenous Languages” – that guides users through the process of language documentation, yielding a structured database of linguistic information for later perusal. The app generates customized dictionaries, provides elicitation templates for elucidating key syntactic features, and offers a convenient way to record and store proverbs, songs, and stories. I will use the IDEAS Global Challenge grant to conduct pilot testing with the Bhasha Research Center in Gujurat, India, as well as the American Indian Language Development Institute in Arizona. My hope is that this light-weight software tool will widen the scope of language documentation efforts throughout the world while also empowering communities to preserve and revitalize their own linguistic legacies, thereby tapping into a collective global repository of irreplaceable cultural knowledge.

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