Big Data, language technology, and the future of 2000 languages you’ve never heard of (but a billion Africans speak every day)


Event details

Date 28.11.2013
Hour 12:0013:00
Speaker Martin Benjamin, Director, Kamusi Project and Senior Scientist, EPFL
Category Conferences - Seminars
AFROTECH LECTURE - EPFL's new future Africa initiative presents

Will Big Data cause the extinction of African languages? Or will new language technology help African languages to thrive in a polyglot age? The Kamusi Project was one of the earliest online dictionaries.
This collaborative effort for the Swahili language is now one of the most-used resources for any African language, and is transforming into a powerful multilingual lexical resource for languages worldwide. Martin Benjamin will show how linguistic crowd sourcing and other advances at the nexus of language and technology make it possible to document every word in every language and make it available for all.

BIO: Martin Benjamin leads the Kamusi Project, a Swiss-based non-profit organization focused on language development throughout Africa and beyond. He recently joined EPFL's Distributed Information Systems Lab as a senior scientist to pursue the informatics potential of massive multilingual data. Benjamin guided localization of Microsoft Windows in Swahili and developed ICT terminology and resources for dozens of other African languages. He used his experience to re-engineer the dictionary, enabling a level of detail never before seen. He trained at Columbia and Yale as an anthropologist and lived in Tanzania for three years.


Sandwiches and drinks will be provided at the end of the lecture.            

Practical information

  • General public
  • Free


  • Jonathan Ledgard, Director, Future Africa-Afrotech


Big Data language technology

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