moyogo's little blog

Blogging about Open Source, fonts, language technology, maps and random stuff happening wherever I am.


Barranquilla, Bocas de Cenizas

Barranquilla, Bocas de Cenizas 02
Originally uploaded by moyogo.
I'm back from Barranquilla, I had a great time. It was hard to leave I must admit, once again I was on denial until the last day about my departure.
If you have a chance to go, do it! It's worth it. Colombia is a beautiful country with very nice people. You can't help but to enjoy it. Even if the country is considered one of the most dangerous in the World with all the guerilla and the kidnappings, most areas are pretty safe as long as you don't act foolishly. I can't wait to go back to see the friends I've made there and to visit even more of that great country. ...Oh, colombian tourist office, you're welcome ;) Thanks Alex, Ángel and their families, the university, Shirly, Maira, Kike, Stephanie, Alan, Bryan, James, Michael, all the Jamaicans, and all the nice colombians I've met :D


Language and Culture Preservation

The UNESCO has an endangered languages programme. It recently put up a Register of Good Practices in Language Preservation. It is quite alarming to see that 80% of the African languages have no orthography, among likewise alarming statistics.
The current language technology is adequate for major written languages. Still nowdays some languages spoken by millions, considered as minor languages, do not have adequate technology for simple standardised input, output or display. The Unicode standard has some people working together on some parts of this issue. But there are a lot of a languages being left aside or simply poorly taken care of (I'm thinking of Lingala here).
But the main issue here, is that most languages in the World are not written but spoken. As a matter of fact, I don't speak a written language, I speak a spoken language, I have to make an extra effort to actually used the written equivalent of it. Speech Technology is way of board, since it tries to bridge the spoken language one would use with the written language, instead of simply using the spoken language. I'm not saying Speech Technology should not be able to write things down, but I'm saying it simply won't do that task properly unless it's able to get the spoken language down alone like we do.

Many languages out there need some kind of preservation technology, and they can't wait for people to agree on orthographic standards or such superfluous things, when talking about spoken language.


It's been a while

Since last time I've posted, many things happened. I'm leaving Montreal for good in a few weeks. I already left work and am currently visiting friends in Colombia after taking a Spanish course.

I've been following the Spanish Summer program at Universidad del Norte in Barranquilla, Colombia. The program was pretty decent, I quite happy with it. There's always room for improvement of course, I guess it's not easy to have a complete language course in just 4 weeks with students from different background and various levels and aptitudes. I can say I learned a great deal and that I've had a good time. The region is very attractive being on the caribbean and all. Due to many factors (current state of Colombia and etc.) there are a lot of things that could be done here. Turism could be developped, as well as services. Seeing this made me realize that there are tons of places like this around the World that are just waiting for growth and development. I'm sure you can come up with great ideas.