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Sketch grammars for dictionaries–workshop in Cameroon

(August 2009) Linguists representing 16 African languages are attending a workshop this month conducted by SIL Cameroon in Yaoundé to produce sketch grammars suitable to introduce bilingual or trilingual dictionaries. The UK Kay Williamson Educational Fund (KWEF) will eventually publish several of the dictionaries in which these sketch grammars appear.

Working in various partnerships, SIL is involved in preparing multilingual dictionaries in more than 70 languages of Cameroon, both for the international academic community and for local language populations. SIL has been making dictionary databases available on their Cameroon website by publishing in two electronic formats—searchable databases and downloadable PDFs—with lexicons or dictionaries available in 32 languages to date. Approximately a dozen other dictionaries have been published in print, including the two most recent, which were funded by KWEF, one in their local series and one in their international series.

Approximately half of the workshop participants are local linguistics researchers or highly educated Cameroonians compiling dictionaries of their own languages. Held 3–28 August, the workshop includes daily lectures, but is primarily devoted to producing sketch grammars in the 16 selected languages. Tom Payne and Doris Payne, International linguistics consultants with SIL, are leading the workshop, assisted by several SIL Cameroon linguistics consultants.

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