Thank you for participating in our survey!
As part of the Relational Lexicography project, we conducted an online survey to learn about people’s work on community-based dictionary projects for Indigenous and other historically marginalized languages in North America. The survey was later expanded to include community-based dictionary projects outside of North America. The survey ran through the end of September 2021 and received 223 responses. We received responses relating to dictionary projects for languages from every continent.
The majority of responses were from people who identified as researchers (72.1% of responses), while the next most common roles that respondents selected were learners (20.4%), users (18.4%), and teachers (17.7%). Bilingual dictionaries represented 81.6% of the responses, and the most common dictionary format was print (66.7%), followed by online searchable (53.1%), online downloadable (31.3%), and app (22.4%). 69.7% of apps include audio features, while 42.4% include images and 36.4% include dialect information.
A key goal of the survey was to develop a deeper understanding of the digital tools and software platforms that are used in dictionary projects for Indigenous and other historically marginalized languages. The most commonly used tools and software that respondents selected were databases (30.6%), Microsoft Word (27.9%), FieldWorks (25.9%), and Microsoft Excel (20.4%). Specific tools/software appealed to respondents for a range of reasons including familiarity, ease of use, useability for community partners, and speed, among others. Respondents also described difficulties that they encountered while using these tools, including difficulty learning how to use them, typing/font issues, or the program being a poor fit for the particular needs of their language/project, among others.
The survey also asked respondents to offer examples of challenges they encountered while working on their dictionary projects. Most respondents selected multiple challenges, with 46.9% encountering funding challenges, 40.1% technology challenges, 36.7% personnel challenges, 32.7% challenges with dialect representation, 32% access challenges, 24.5% challenges relating to politics, 23.1% sustainability challenges, 19.7% challenges with training resources, and 17% challenges regarding permissions/approval.
Finally, we asked respondents what the greatest successes and positive outcomes of their dictionary project have been. Respondents described many successes, and some of the main themes that occurred throughout responses were that they were able to finish the dictionary, that the dictionary was positively received by members of the language community, that the dictionary was useful for language learning, that the dictionary makes a contribution to language documentation efforts, and that the project was undertaken with community involvement.
In the near future, we plan to publish a detailed overview and analysis of the survey results, in which we will discuss our methodology, as well as considerations and suggestions for those interested in developing community-based dictionaries.
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