Word collection dates: 
Monday, 1 June, 2015 to Friday, 31 July, 2015
Total days: 
Misaje and Dumbu, Northwest Province, Cameroon
Total participants: 
Avg daily participants: 
Avg hours/day: 
Avg participant groups: 
Avg Participants per group: 
Total domains treated: 
Total raw words collected: 
Local context: 
Two separate weeks of word-collection were done, the first June 1-5 at the Bible Translation Center in the village of Misaje, the second July 27-31 at the Catholic Primary School in the village of Dumbu.
% Words glossed: 
% Words entered: 
Software used: 

Challenges encountered:

  1. Participants who had said they’d come didn’t show up. Make sure they are committed and know what they are committing to!
  2. Some of the scribes and team leaders were not present at the training. Solution for scribes: during weekend after training the scribes got more practice, and were trained in new orthography rules.
  3. On some days a lack of team leaders, scribes and glossers. Solution: aim for more than the 6 people for each role, and train all (or many) for different roles, so people can take over another role if needed. Maybe try to get a coordinator who doesn’t read/write the MT well (so as not to deprive yourself of a good glosser/scribe).
  4. Local workshop coordinator filled in as scribe or team leader to fill vacancies. Therefore he could not check on how teams were doing. For quite a while it wasn’t clear why one of the teams wasn’t functioning well. Solution (for next time): at the end of the day a short debrief with scribes and one with team leaders, to see how things are going. And maybe a change of groups during the training, so people work with different teams. Also there: short debrief.
  5. Always lack of glossers, because scribes and team leaders were more urgently needed. Solution: have people who are a scribe and a glosser at the same time. The glossing done in the table groups is easier because at that moment it’s still clear what word in the dialect is meant. It also saved the translators a lot of leftover glossing work after the workshop.
  6. Many spelling mistakes, wrong citation form and words in the wrong semantic domain, especially the first days (glossing spelling experts checked the words).
  7. Glossing is not easy, because words don’t have tone written on them, so it is not clear how to pronounce them. (If tone were written, nobody could read it.) Since words often ended up in the wrong semantic domain, it is also unclear which word it is, even when thinking of the domain. One glosser was a scribe during the final days, because there were not enough scribes. He had enough time to gloss the words while language experts were thinking of more words. If the word was not well known to him, he would ask what it meant. This avoids having to going back to the group and disturb them after they have moved on to another domain. (This wouldn’t work for domains that are hard to gloss, like animals and plants.)
  8. People adding the same words in many ‘brother’ domains. (growing rice, growing grains, growing etc). Solution: only in the eldest brother=the first domain they worked on.
  9. People adding words in the wrong domain, because they didn’t know that that was a different sub-domain. (preparing the field for growing rice). Solution: give an overview of the whole domain on the half-day that work on that domain is started.
  10. Scribes forgetting to put the right citation form later in the week. Solution: short revision in the morning.
  11. FLEx: there are many homographs, and FLEx often merges them. This makes it hard, because when ‘unmerging’ them the other fields don’t always show up in the right entry. This makes a lot of work.
    And sometimes FLEx does not merge two words with the same gloss!
    Solution: start with empty database (a new one, or the real one with the right custom fields made empty?), and only add the wordlist words when all collected words have been entered.
  12. The course was quite expensive, because of transport money and feeding for many participants. The next course will be held in the village, while there is no power locally. The power was no problem, with extra batteries for the computers. The finance of the feeding was a problem as not all the churches did their contributions. The project/SIL gave some financial help.
  13. Some participants couldn’t come because of the distance. Solution: in the village. This will also result in a nice closing ceremony, and more engagement from community. There was more community involvement, more people knew there was something going in.
  14. The second week was during harvest season, therefore many people could not come. Another week of workshop that is scheduled during the same period next year will therefore be moved.
  15. Many challenges that were encountered in this workshop were already big improvements in workshops in other languages of the cluster.


Impact of the workshop:

  • For other related languages: coordinators are trained already, and will be better prepared to coordinate. Several staff are trained to repeat this kind of workshop.
  • For Kemedzung: The translators will have a thesaurus and a way to check for spelling, the linguists will have a list of minimal pairs for decisions regarding how to write them (since tone is not written), secondary schools will have dictionaries (glossaries) for their mother-tongue reading/writing classes, and writers will have a glossary. People in towns can get the dictionary on their cell phone or access it via the internet (Webonary). People who want to read parts of Scripture that have been translated can look up words that they don’t know.
  • People in the village were very interested in the results. They would like to have a copy for personal use, not only for use in literacy classes. People are rediscovering almost-forgotten words. The translators are learning new words they can apply in the translation. After the first week, the collected words were put on Webonary and people in different parts of the country used it.
  • Before the workshop people didn’t really know what a dictionary is, now they do and they see the importance of it.