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Website of the Week — Rosetta Project


Time again for our Website of the Week, when we showcase interesting and innovative online destinations.

This time we highlight a website about the languages of the world. The Rosetta Project is a growing collection of information on almost 2,400 languages so far, and it aims to be a comprehensive resource of language information.

WELCHER: "www.RosettaProject.org is a repository of the languages of the world: dictionaries; grammars, which are descriptions of different aspects of a language, like its sound system, how its sentences are formed; and also texts, so stories and conversations that are in the languages themselves."

At the AAAS meeting in San Francisco, Rosetta Project director Laura Welcher explained how the site works, using "Hindi" as a search term.

WELCHER: "It brings up the Hindi language page. You can find out the countries where it's spoken. You can find alternate names for it. It says it belongs to the Hindustani family of languages. You have a graphic showing you the region of the world in which the language is spoken."

The region stretches far beyond India, to countries from Belize to Zambia where the Hindi-speaking diaspora has settled.

The Rosetta Project also collects documentation about languages - a Swahili grammar, for example, or an explanation of the Burmese alphabet. And recently, they have begun adding multimedia, such as a video of Tsu Justina, speaking the Naki language of Cameroon, explaining how she makes corn beer.

Laura Welcher says the multimedia files are an important addition to the Rosetta Project website.

WELCHER: "So this is an incredible artifact of this language, and this could be used for the development of language teaching or language learning materials as well, and it just could provide a tremendous amount of information to reconstruct the language."

Ironically, the site itself is in English only, but Laura Welcher says the software can accommodate other language verisons, and she's hoping volunteers will step forward to help make this website, which after all is about languages, available in other languages as well.

There's much more to the Rosetta Project, including online discussion forums, at RosettaProject.org, or get the link from our site, voanews.com.

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