TechInAfrica – SaDiLaR (South African Center for Digital Language Resources) is the first of its kind in Africa as one of the 8 research infrastructures established through the Department of Science and Innovation (DSI), under South African Research Infrastructure Roadmap. The center will provide research infrastructure across the public research system in South Africa.
As a response to Use of Official Languages Act of 2012 that encouraged equal use and development of the 11 official languages, SaDiLaR will host a resource portal providing single-entry access for more than 200 language resources and tools. SaDiLaR will create and manage digital resources, supporting software researches and developments in language-related technologies and studies.
SaDiLaR development began in 2016 to two programs, which are digitization, requiring systematic creation of digital text and speech relevant to all 11 languages, and digital humanities, a program that facilitates the use of digital data in humanities and social sciences.
The language center also funded the Communicative Development Inventories (CDIs) project, an acquisition scheme of children language for the official languages. CDIs received parents or caregivers report about their child’s gestures, words, and sentences, while the language development observations are made from 8-30 months. A team consisting of Heather Brookes, an Associate Professor and Co-Director of Child Language Africa, along with other speech-language therapists, audiologists, pediatricians, linguist, public health specialists, and psychologists, are using the project to study the language development and its difficulties in children.
The enormous database in SADiLaR has allowed diverse development in the application of language-related technology, and with this, the center has become a helping front for various research fields in language, literary and heritage studies, history, music, sociology, journalism, and many others. The benefits are widely acknowledged by thousands of students and 90 researchers and developers.