A database for international development localization services called Lexibank is changing the way linguists and researchers work. With this database, every represented language can be overlaid in order to find similar roots and trends in human language, bringing international development translation services to a new level.
Creating a New Tool for International Development Localization
The idea for an international linguistic database was inspired by open-source genome sequencing technology, which is used to form databases that store genetic information. Lexibank was created with the goal of providing a technical means to explore the world’s linguistic dynamics. The researchers behind it come from interdisciplinary backgrounds and are based in the Max Planck Institute for Evolutionary Anthropology, in Germany, and the University of Auckland, in New Zealand.
Efficacy for International Development
The Lexibank database currently consists of lexical data from about 2,000 languages as well as potential applications for that data, including translation services for international development. According to language data platform Ethnologue, there are 7,151 languages spoken in the world today. The Lexibank world list collection is considered a first attempt at integrating the language data that has been recorded throughout the past centuries. The researchers behind Lexibank consider their work to be far from complete, but are convinced that it will provide an increasingly authoritative source for investigations in linguistic history, diversity, and psychology.
One of the principal functions the platform provides is informing the study of language evolution. With an unprecedentedly large database, researchers are empowered to identify more precise and accurate trends and similarities.
Another key function of the database is that it allows researchers to compute lexical and phonological attributes of specific language varieties.
These functions serve research pertaining to studies in:
- Human cognition
- AI development for translation for NGOs
- Language education program design
- Human history
- Inclusivity in international development work
How Does It Work?
The platform allows researchers to make more comprehensive linguistic comparisons than before by consolidating vocabulary shared among Romance languages into a searchable database.
Because the Lexibank database is the largest available, researchers are able to draw more authoritative conclusions. For instance, they can explore questions such as why the widespread the words for “mother” and the word “father” are so similar across many languages that have little to no relationship between them.
Helping International Development Localization
Organizations that are dedicated to socio-economic development can also benefit directly and indirectly from this new database. Humanitarian endeavors are often based on interactions with target communities. Therefore, these interactions must begin with effective communication and cultural understanding. A direct benefit that Lexibank provides is enhanced language access to even remote communities. An indirect benefit is that language access makes research into more kinds of societies possible, making those that are in need more available for aid in different sectors.
Most international development bodies are dedicated to campaigns for education and healthcare. In the case of education, it’s important for learning material to be not just accessible through healthcare translation, but also to inspire adherence in learners and educators. Concepts have to be delivered in a digestible manner; luckily, localization, which targets the language features of a particular location, can help.
This effort intersects with the objectives of healthcare programs spearheaded by nonprofits, welfare departments, and NGOs. Oftentimes, healthcare campaigns need to inform, without delving into any medical procedures. However, when the goal is to administer a procedure, language needs become even more important in order to safely administer medical interventions.
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