I'd like to add a set of technologies involving language to the list
before this thread is entirely cold: translators, text-to-speech (TTS),
and speech-to-text (STT). In societies of the global South that are
multilingual, and have strong oral traditions and low literacy rates,
these technologies might be used in some interesting ways. For instance,
computer translators could be used to help speed up translation of
educational materials for publication. TTS could turn any text web page
into something oral (even if aethetically not as pleasing as the human
voice). STT could be used to assist in transcribing oral histories etc.,
and I wonder about the possibility of creating synchronized audio-text
files with this technology which would facilitate searching.

All three of these "language transformative" technologies exist and are
being refined. Aside from time and money to make them work for different
needs & settings, they do depend on staying with a standard orthography
for each language - an area where ICT and language policies need to be

While computer translators are kind of a gimmick to many in the North
and a tool used in a limited (?) way by some businesses, and TTS and STT
are, so far as I'm aware, thought of mainly as a way to assist people
with disabilities, I think all three could have a tremendous long term
impact in the multilingual South.

Don Osborn

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