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(March 2016) As of 1 March, fifty-six dictionaries are now available on SIL’s Webonary. Newly published are Burkina Faso Kusaal Dictionary, Dictionnaire Mbule and Dictionnaire Moore. This online resource gives minority language groups the ability to publish bilingual or multilingual dictionaries on the web with a minimum of technical help. SIL is aiming to publish 100 dictionaries on Webonary by 1 October 2016.
Rapid Word Collection (RWC) workshops are a significant method of helping speakers of ethnolinguistic languages to create their own dictionaries. The RWC method revolutionizes the task of collecting words by using a systematic method to capture these words in a workshop organized in the language community. RWC workshops consistently achieve a total of 12,000 or more raw entries during a brief two-week period.
In Cameroon, workshops in several languages have generated a lot of enthusiasm in recent months. SIL linguist Bep Langhout had first invited SIL Dictionary & Lexicography Services Coordinator Verna Stutzman to conduct the first RWC workshop in the Kemedzung language in the Northwest Region of Cameroon in May 2015. Since then RWC workshops have been held in three related languages, and the fourth has started.*
Participants in the Kemedzung Dictionary Workshop
In each of the workshops, more RWC workshop consultants were trained, enabling them to hold RWC workshops in other locations. Local language team leaders, scribes, and glossers were also trained to participate in the workshop for their language. Many of these leaders are literacy workers, Bible translators and pastors, and benefited from their participation in the training and actual workshop.
Chungmboko Dictionary Workshop
Having a dictionary in a minority language often has the effect of validating the language to the speakers themselves as well as to other language groups, and to governments. It may even pave the way to further language development and education.
When preparing for one workshop, an elderly Chungmboko woman commented, “To think that I have lived to see the day that my language would have a dictionary!”
* Misaje Cluster Project: Chung, Kemedzung, Mungong, Nchane, Naame and Sari languages