The Spelling Checkers for South African Languages, a spelling and hyphenation checker tool for ten of South Africa’s official languages, excluding English, is now available to download for free from the website of the South African Centre for Digital Language Resources (SADiLaR).
This tool was developed by the Centre for Text Technology (CTexT®), which is based at the North-West University (NWU), and has been made available for free to the public by SADiLaR, which is funded by the Department of Science and Innovation (DSI) as part of the South African Research Infrastructure Roadmap (SARIR).
SARIR is a systemic intervention by the DSI to provide research infrastructure across the entire public research system, building on existing capabilities and strengths and drawing on future needs.
The spelling and hyphenation tool, which works with the Microsoft Office Suite, allows the user to choose their South African language in the relevant Microsoft software. It then recognises and corrects spelling, hyphenation and typing errors and offers suggested alternatives for words that are not recognised.
The spelling checker tool offers an extensive word list for Afrikaans, isiNdebele, isiXhosa, isiZulu, Siswati, Sesotho, Sesotho sa Leboa, Setswana, Tshivenda and Xitsonga.
In recognition of the fact that our South African languages are under-resourced in terms of available data required for tools such as this, and that language is constantly changing and evolving, the tool also provides for a custom dictionary to which users can add words they regularly use and that are not in the tool’s existing word lists.
If the user so chooses, these custom dictionaries can then be shared with the developer to be verified and included in future updates. SADiLaR also welcomes the help of contributors and collaborators to expand the tool’s word lists.
Prof Khumalo Langa, executive director of SADiLaR, notes: “SADiLaR is a national research infrastructure mandated to support research and development in the domains of language technologies and language-related studies.
“It is therefore a great triumph for us to be able to make available such a valuable tool to support multilingualism in South Africa and build up the necessary technological resources to ensure our languages remain relevant in the Fourth Industrial Revolution.”
Dr Martin Puttkamer, head of CTexT®, says: “By working in close collaboration with linguists at South African universities and the national language bodies, we developed spelling checkers that evaluate words according to the official orthography of each language.
“We hope that making the spelling checkers freely available will help strengthen the digital presence of all our indigenous languages, facilitate the production of more digital texts in these languages, and provide access to information technology to all our citizens.”
To download the tool and for more information, visit the SADiLaR website.
For more information and for interviews, please contact the SADiLaR team at email@example.com.