Iñupiaq Online (and its awesome Word Builder)

Congrats to @alaskuk and the rest of the team at Yuarcuun on the launch of Iñupiaq Online, which was announced in a post on Facebook as follows:

FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE

Arctic Slope Community Foundation

June 7, 2022

Arctic Slope Community Foundation Launches Inupiaq Dictionary and Sentence Building App

Anchorage, AK – We here at Arctic Slope Community Foundation (ASCF) are beyond excited to share with you one of our latest projects, combining Iñupiaq language preservation with modern technology; the language learning website www.inupiaqonline.com.

The website is funded by the Department of Health and Human Services and is administered by ASCF. The site was built by Alaska Native web developers Christopher Egalaaq Liu (Yup’ik) and Lonny Alaskuk Strunk (Yup’ik) in conjuncture with acclaimed Iñupiaq academic administrator, linguist, anthropologist, and educator Edna Ahgeak Paniattaaq MacLean, Ph.D.

The site references the North Slope Iñupiaq dictionary (which was primarily written by Dr. Edna MacLean in the 1980s) and combines innovative computer programming to make learning the Iñupiaq language easier for all.

www.inupiaqonline.com is not only a dictionary; it also has a sentence-building function and an audio library to hear the way the words are pronounced. Once a vocabulary is established the person learning can learn the proper way to structure the words in a sentence and then reference the correct pronunciation in the audio library.

Based on the highly successful language website Liu and Strunk made for their Yup’ik language a few years ago, www.inupiaqonline.com] is the first of its kind for the North Slope Dialect of Iñupiaq.

Arctic Slope Community Foundation is committed to improving the quality of life for the Iñupiaq people of the North Slope as well as providing quality educational tools for preserving our language and our way of life.

Ikayuutisa avanmun Iñupiuraaġnikun.

Let’s help each other learn Iñupiaq.

I found this map on Wikipedia showing the variants of Iñupiaq — as mentioned above, the site describes North Slope Iñupiaq, which is spoken way up in the north of Alaska:

image

Poking about

This site has so many cool interface ideas. Here’s some notes on the main search interface:

There are a lot of helpful features for users here: clear nav and search with a virtual keyboard for special characters, quick definitions for matching result words, and big links to further info. Also, the interface looks great on mobile:

Another neat thing is that translations of grammatical terminology is available throughout, with Iñupiaq explanations of their meanings:

This word builder thing is… awesome

For me this is the standout feature of Iñupiaq Online: the Word Builder interface. As you probably know, the Iñupiaq Language is highly agglutinative, so searching for forms is presumably a real challenge. But some sophisticated code is at work here helping users to both find lexicographical information and explore the workings of Iñupiaq grammar.

In-translation drop-downs allow users to modulate the grammatical configuration of a search term (in this case, argument structure), and see the forms update immediately. Furthermore, the user can add postbase and ending type categories, which I guess are grammatical categories in Iñupiaq words (@alaskuk could explain of course!).

I this this interface is just fantastic: it encodes a tremendous amount of grammatical information in a way that users can actually make use of interactively. This could be a real game-changer for education in this language.

Congrats to @alaskuk and everyone involved in this awesome project! :trophy: :1st_place_medal: :birthday:

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Wow, what a beautiful, clean, straight-forward interface! That’s a really huge accomplishment alone, ignoring the huge amount of linguistic knowledge.

Congrats, @alaskuk!

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Right?

I was just looking around the team’s GitHub and it turns out they also have a whole ‘mother site about the Yugtun language:

Seems like a lot of the same cool interfaces are available. What’s more, @alaskuk’s master’s thesis (with a committee including chair Emily Bender and Sharon Hargus) is available online:

Pushing this one on the stack for sure.

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