SYLARD is open source software that aims to remedy one significant deficiency in endangered language documentation efforts: The delivery of a corpus of audiovisual language documentation to end users who are not familiar with navigating the repositories that contain the primary materials (generally .wav audio files with time-coded annotations in ELAN or, in some cases, Transcriber, the files of which can be seamlessly imported to ELAN).
An initial attempt to deliver audio and transcriptions to end users was developed as part of the DEMCA: Documenting the Ethnobiology of Mexico and Central America portal (demca.mesolex.org > Multimedia), which includes online presentation of recordings on ethnobiological knowledge. Examples of materials from Mixtec, Nahuatl, and Totonac can be found within this portal Yet this system was not independent of DEMCA and therefore was limited in its ability to place audio and annotations online without first integrating them into a DEMCA ethnobotanical research project. SYLARD remedies this situation.
Mesolex: Lexicosemantic Resources
for Mesoamerican Languages
In 2019, Jonathan D. Amith sought support from the National Endowment for the Humanities, Office of Digital Humanities (which had twice supported the development of DEMCA) for a project he called Mesolex: Lexicosemantic Resources for Mesoamerican Languages (presently available at staging.mesolex.org). The original conception was to offer to the public such resources in a single portal, with subportals for individual languages. An example of a subportal is that which offers Amith's material from Highland Puebla Nahuatl. As can be seen on this subportal, the lexicosemantic resources that Mesolex delivers are divided into three sections:
- Lexicons / Dictionaries
- Corpora (audio recordings with transcriptions and often translations or linguistic analysis)
- Grammar (texts and articles on any number of topics related to the grammar of the subportal language)
Mesolex development began with Amith's collaboration with Neil Ashton, a programmer who is focusing on the lexicon back- and front-ends of Mesolex. Once the structure of this portal and subportals came into better focus, it was decided to have Ashton focus on the lexicon modules and have Bruno Pérez of Estudios Drako focus on the corpora module, which has been named SYLARD: Synchronized Language Annotation Result Display. Presently SYLARD is being developed as a stand-alone program with its own administrative interface for Visitors and Collaborators. The SYLARD interface is presently designed only to manage the ELAN-to-HTML conversion. Stage 1 of Mesolex will simply link the Corpora module of Mesolex subportals to SYLARD collections. Subsequent development will employ SYLARD administrative functionalities as the gateway into Mesolex, its subportals, and its three basic modules: Lexicons, Corpora, and Grammar.
SYLARD: Synchronized Language
Annotation Result Display
The present version of SYLARD, 1.0, is a preliminary effort to provide the most versatile online presentation of endangered language recordings and annotations. It aims to offer the flexibility needed to solve multiple formats in ELAN files, that is, annotations that may be limited to transcriptions, or that may include translations into one or more languages, morphological segmentation, and glosses.
Collaborators can select the tiers in their ELAN files that they wish to upload to the SYLARD server. These tiers can be made visible or hidden in the default view with the text in a color chosen from a color picker. Any Visitor (user) can customize the display by changing the tiers that are displayed for viewing (the changes are temporary and do not alter the default for other Visitors). The Visitor can also change where any tier appears (in a single-line display above a scroll box, or within a scroll box) and how it appears (the color of the text).
For further description of SYLARD functionalities for Visitors and Collaborators, see the Manual.