by Jacquelijn RIngersma

On August 4 and 5, the RELISH project organized a workshop on lexicon standards and lexicon tools at the MPI in Nijmegen. The workshop brought together field linguists and NLP experts to discuss the approaches, standards, tools and interoperability of lexical resources. The aim of the workshop was to create understanding on the requirements in lexicon tools and to design concrete steps towards further harmonization if possible.

In the RELISH project (Rendering Endangered Languages lexicons Interoperable through Standards Harmonization), funded by NEH and DFG, the MPI works together with The University of Frankfurt and the Eastern Michigan University. The project aims to unify two major collections of digitized lexicons of endangered languages in order to create a searchable virtual archive.

In the workshop, there were presentations from field linguists and from members of the NLP community. The presentations showed that there is some difference in focus and approach. Where the field linguist aims at a content rich resource which can be used both for research purposed and for disseminations to the speech community, NLP searches for an infrastructure covering “all” language resources and tools. As a logic result standardization and interoperability seem to be more important for the NLP society, although certainly not irrelevant for the field linguist. However, the information sharing on the subject of standards and interoperability was felt to be very useful by both ‘parties’.

In the workshop there were also presentations on LMF and ISOcat (the ISO standards for lexical resources) and LIFT and GOLD (the USA standards for lexical resources). The presentations and interactions showed that on both sides of the Atlantic interesting moves have been made towards standardization and that the difference between the two does not seem to be as wide as the mentioned ocean.

In the final 6 months of the RELISH project the parties involved will work on bridging the gap between LMF/ISOcat and LIFT/GOLD and develop an interchange format. Since RELISH brings together organizations that have been instrumental in promoting both endangered languages documentation and standards-development in Europe and the US, the success of RELISH will provide impetus for other standards-harmonization efforts, as well as offer the scientific research community integrated access to important new digital materials.

Presentations of the workshop are available from the Event page on the MPI website.