Wednesday, October 2, 2013

Additional Language Resources For The Everyday Analyst

Ethnologue is one of additional language resources mentioned in this article

To conclude the three-part Linguistics blog saga, preceded by the Top 11 Online Language Learning Resources and the Top 10 Online Translation Services, here are a few excellent language resources for the intelligence analyst!
  • Linguist or not, this one is important! The Ethnologue is the international authority on living languages, maintained by SIL International, a Christian linguistics group that originally founded the site in 1951 to translate bibles into local (and lesser-known) languages. Oh, how the site has grown since then! Search by language, search by region or search by country and you will find the full linguistic breakdown of almost any geographic area.
  • Note: If you're interested in language mapping, World GeoDatasets provides the World Language Mapping System, the most current and up to date maps and GIS information on international language distribution. It is a collaboration between Global Mapping International and Ethnologue, but be warned, it is not cheap! 
  • The World Atlas of Language Structures (WALS) is a comprehensive collection of linguistic sources searchable by language (every language you could possibly think of) or by language feature. You can search for Arabic, for example, (but which one? - this site lists 21 different dialects!) or something a bit more interesting, like Achuar or Waropen (they exist, I promise, and they aren't the strangest languages on this website). You could also search for language features like Subject-Verb-Object (SVO) word order, for example, or optional double negation. Either way, your search output will be a comprehensive list of scholarly sources written and published about the language you select.
  • Omniglot is my third favorite online language resource. It is an encyclopedia of writing systems and languages. For many different languages (yes, all the strange languages you just encountered in the WALS, plus Tengwar (!), J. R. R. Tolkien's Elvish language), it provides the alphabet and the International Phonetic Alphabet (IPA) symbols. In addition to phonetic and transcription information, Omniglot provides a list of links that pertain to information about the language such as resources for learning the language and/or the writing system it employs. 
  •  Voice of America's Pronunciation Guide is ideal if you are trying to learn how to pronounce foreign names and places correctly.  It won't help much with words but if you want to meet the standard for intelligence briefings, you have to know how to say the places and people correctly and the VOA takes away your last excuse.

1 comment:

Bob said...

Thanks for this series, it's been interesting and useful.

I've got a language related link to add: Great Language Game. It's a learning resource in a different sense - practicing recognition of what language is being spoken from short samples.