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[YN]–Yorubaname.com has flagged off a Text-To-Speech project to artificially construct voice created from snippets of human voice segments stringed together to create infinite number of sentences to aid its Yoruba name dictionary project.

Yorubaname.com is a Yoruba Name Documentation Project which has an online database of Yoruba names, located at www.YorubaName.com.

The project, started by Kola Tubosun, is proposed as a crowdsourced database gathering information about Yoruba names everywhere (in Nigeria and elsewhere on the globe). Individuals and users will be able to submit their name on the website or use the current database to search for meanings of other specific names.

It also aims at bringing together a community of interested linguists and other culture enthusiasts to document the African cultural and linguistic experience on the web, and to facilitate the use of the Internet as a means of better representing this experience.

Following the success of a crowdfunding campaign in 2015 where $5000 was raised via Indiegogo, the Yorubaname.com was launched on February 19, 2016 and has since recorded more than 5,000 entries.

To further enrich users experience, the organisation has flagged off another crowdfunding campaign of $4,000 flexible goal for a Text-To-Speech update to create the audio element of the original project.

“In 2015, we created a dictionary of names, currently boasting over 5,000 entries.

“Now we are raising funds to create the audio element of that project. But much more than that, we’re trying to create a product that has major potential applications outside of the dictionary into the real world, with positive consequences not just Yorùbá but other African languages as well.” The project Page on Indiegogo declared.

In another post on Medium, the founder, Kola Tubosun made further revelation: “Most people who bother with language endangerment speak more about the problem of people not speaking the language to their children, which is a valid fear.

“But they forget about an equally important limitation brought about by having those languages left behind in this brave new world controlled by machines. Finnish has 4 million speakers. Norwegian has 5 million, and Danish has 6 million. Yorùbá has over 30 million speakers (more than those three previous languages combined and multiplied by two) yet Siri doesn’t have a Yorùbá functionality. One of these languages will be limited in its interaction with technology in this new century!”

“So let me not hear any excuse that this is based on the language audience. We have the numbers. The interest just isn’t there! Speech synthesis is one step, but it is the basis for most Artificial Intelligence systems. The absence of African languages in this new field makes me wonder whether our so-called “tech space” eco-system hasn’t fallen into the same pit from where most of the continent’s problems stem: a desire to solve problems facing other places and other people while ignoring our own.”

He however appealed to everyone to help the organisation reach her crowdfunding goal of $4,000 dollars.

“If you care about creating solutions to real local problems capable of unleashing true innovation to a wide number of people — and also something with real profit potential — please help donate to our cause.”

It should be recalled that Kola Tubosun won the Premio Ostana “Special Prize” for Mother Tongue Literature Award 2016  — and the first ever African to win the award — as a result of his works on the Yorubaname.com project and other language advocacy activities.

Copyright 2017 The Page. Permission to use quotations from this article is granted subject to appropriate credit being given to www.thepageng.com as the source.



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