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Time zone: Europe/Amsterdam


Welcome (15 minutes)
Word of welcome by the Rector magnificus of Leiden University Prof. dr. Hester Bijl.
Welcome by the President of the Steering committee of WOCAL, Prof. dr. Felix Ameka.
Welcome on behalf of the Local Organising Committee by Prof. dr. Maarten Mous

Portrait of Dorothy Gordon

Reverse Babel Technology: New roles for linguists

Biography: Dorothy Gordon is a global leader in the field of technology and development with a special focus on Africa.  As a Pan-africanist and feminist she works to bring about greater engagement and action on policy, implementation and evaluation issues relating  to  the  impact of technology on  society.   

In addition to serving as Chair of the Inter-Governmental Council for UNESCO's Information for All Programme,  she also participates on a range of Boards including that of the  Institute for Information Technology in Education, the Linux Professional Institute and the World Summit Awards. She is a member of the Global Partnership on Artificial Intelligence Expert Working Group.

As the founding Director-General of the Ghana-India Kofi Annan Centre of Excellence in ICT she made a significant contribution to participation of women in STEM fields. She was a member of the Global Commission on Internet Governance.  

A strong supporter of the Open Movement, she is an advocate for the ROAM principles, the use of Open licenses, open source technology and purpose-driven innovation.  As well as consulting,  she  mentors,  volunteers  and  serves  with  a  number  of  local  and global initiatives working to define a better technology-enabled future.

Chair: Felix Ameka

- Paper session 1
- Paper session 2

Portrait of Anne Marie Diagne

Systèmes d’écriture pour langues des signes et langues vocales africaines

Abstract: Au-delà des polémiques concernant l’existence ou non d’écritures endogènes en Afrique, nous souhaitons lors de cette communication parler de la mise en place et l’utilisation des codes écrits en Afrique pour les langues vocales et les implications qui en résultent pour les communautés concernées notamment dans la scolarisation. Nous nous intéresserons également à l’apprentissage de l’écriture pour les langues des signes. Entendants et Sourds africains sont confrontés à la même situation d’apprentissage de l’écriture dans la langue officielle de leur pays, généralement une langue européenne. Les Sourds ont de surcroit affaire à une différence de modalité linguistique. Nous mettrons en exergue les enjeux des communautés sourdes africaines face à l’alphabétisation dans une langue vocale dite de référence et les expériences alternatives existantes, notamment en Signwriting.

Biography: Anna Marie Diagne est linguiste, chercheuse au Laboratoire de linguistique et à l’URICA (IFAN Ch. A. Diop). Elle travaille essentiellement sur la grammaire et la dialectologie des langues mandé, notamment du soninké. Elle s’intéresse également aux langues atlantiques minoritaires tel le seereer palor (Sénégal). Ses recherches actuelles portent sur le Sillanka (dialecte soninké, Burkina Faso) et sur la documentation des langues des signes sénégalaises.

Chair: Victoria Nyst

- Paper session 3
- Break (with African music)
- Paper session 4
Portrait of Ongaye Oda

Cultural Practices and the dynamics of language: the linguistic reflexes of house construction in Konso

Abstract: In my presentation, I will discuss the relation of language with cultural practices and  social dynamics in house construction in Konso, Southwest Ethiopia. Beyond describing the ethnographic and material culture issues it is interesting to see how they are expressed in language change. Traditionally, different Konso houses are constructed with local materials for different purposes. Well-built traditional houses can last up to four to five generations They define social status and spiritual functions of the owners. Shortage of local materials, contact with the state administration which began in the late 19th century, rapid urbanization, business interactions far and wide, introduction of ‘modern’ religions, and political crises have resulted in changes in several domains of the Konso society. One of these domains is house construction practices and the related use of language. In house construction practices, one of the new trends involves organization of labour: the free-of-charge house construction practices have changed to monetarized skills; women have begun to possess houses in the urban areas; new house construction materials are introduced, in part because of the growing shortage of local materials. Also, the single, ‘modern’ corrugated iron sheet house has been introduced that now serves multiple purposes, and next to it also new administrative and service sector houses. All these changes have subsequently resulted in certain linguistic changes.
Keywords: language change, house construction, social dynamics, Konso society

Biography: Dr Ongaye Oda Orkaydo is an Associate Professor of Linguistics at Dilla University, Ethiopia. He received his PhD in Linguistics from the University of Leiden, the Netherlands in 2013. Currently, he is a researcher in the Institute of Indigenous Studies (IIS) at Dilla University. He has national and international teaching experiences in linguistics. He has written grammars of Konso (2013), K’abeena (2014), Silt’e (2018) and (co-)published several articles in reputable international journals and in conference proceedings. His research interests include, grammar writing, dictionary making, mother tongue education (from planning to implementation and evaluation), language and nature and indigenous conflict handling mechanisms. Dr Ongaye Oda Orkaydo was a visiting fellow at the University of Turin, Italy in 2016 and at the African Studies Centre Leiden, The Netherlands in 2018. He is a member of the Biological Society of Ethiopia, a Scientific Board member of Kervan. International Journal of Afro-Asiatic Studies.

Chair: Azeb Amha

- Paper session 5
- Break (with African music)
- Paper session 6

By Gregory D. S. Anderson and Anna Luisa Daigneault

Due to globalization, cultural assimilation, the long-term impacts of colonization, as well as the policies enacted by regimes that are hostile to diversity, many languages in Africa are threatened or endangered. There is an urgent need to address these issues with comprehensive digital tools that can assist in conservation efforts and revitalization programs while creating free, online spaces for these languages and their user communities to thrive. We will present a digital tutorial to empower local language activists and their scholarly collaborators to produce Living Dictionaries — interactive mobile-friendly web tools that support endangered, under-represented and diasporic languages. Never out-of-print and infinitely expandable multimedia resources that combine language data (represented in diverse writing systems) with digital audio recordings of native speakers alongside photo and video imagery to expand cultural content, Living Dictionaries go well beyond a static print dictionary. We will cover how to register for an account in the software, create a new Living Dictionary, create new entries, edit entries, add images, upload audio files, as well as how to record directly into the Living Dictionary using a smartphone or laptop.

Portrait of Martha Qoroo

Nafasi ya lugha katika elimu barani Afrika: Suala la Kiswahili nchini Tanzania / 
The place of language in education on the African continent: The issue of Kiswahili in Tanzania

Abstract: In this paper I reflect on the role that African languages play in education and in particular on the role that Kiswahili had in Tanzania’s educational system. I argue that the choice of language to use in education is crucial to building a society, inclusive of both the educated and the less-educated. The paper discusses the current situation and suggests ways to reduce or eliminate these effects by involving education stakeholders in recognizing the importance of choosing a language that is capable of building communication that contributes to the participation of the whole community - the elite and the non-elite.

Biography: Martha Qorro is an Associate Professor and a part-time lecturer at the Centre for Communication Studies at the University of Dar es Salaam (UDSM). She obtained her Doctoral Degree at UDSM in 1999, an MA (Ling.) at the University of Bangor, North Wales in 1982 and BA (Education) at UDSM in 1977. She has co-authored a book on Language Crisis in Tanzania: The Myth of English versus Education, published by Mkuki na Nyota in 1997. She also co-authored an Iraqw-English Dictionary that was published by Rüdiger Köppe Verlag: Cologne, Germany in 2001. She was part of the Editorial Team of the LOITASA project in which she took part in co-editing several LOITASA books (2002-2012). She has also been part of training teams in Research Methods, Report Writing and Editing between 2014 and 2020. At UDSM Martha also served as Head of Department (2000-2003), Associate Dean Practicum (2006-2008), Dean of Students (2008-2012) and Co-Director of the Confucius Institute at the University of Dar es Salaam (2013-2014). Her research interests are on the language in education, language policy and communication studies.

Chair: Maarten Mous

- Paper session 7
- Break (with African music)
- Paper session 8

Portrait of Woinshet Girma

Sign Language Development in Africa

Abstract: The purpose of my talk is to cover the development of sign language linguistic research in Africa. Like in Europe and North America, there is a growing number of scholars, working on sign languages in Africa. They play a role in opening and running sign language / interpreting programs at universities.

Addis Ababa University in Ethiopia is a prime example here: we started our Bachelor’s degree in Ethiopian Sign Language (EthSL) & Deaf Culture Studies ten years ago. This paved the way for deaf and hearing scholars to develop their skills and knowledge in sign language research in Africa, instead of relying on Europe or North America.  I am one of the first deaf researchers, doing a doctorate. I will discuss my PhD research on lexical semantic relations in EthSL.

Conferences on African SLs such as WOCAL play an important role in academic development of African deaf communities, sharing more knowledge on sign language rights, which will benefit the deaf community in the long run, giving opportunities for young deaf researchers from Africa.

Key Words: African sign languages, lexical semantics, sign language development

Biography: Woinshet Girma Ayansa is a PhD Candidate at Addis Ababa University. Her thesis investigates the lexical semantics of Ethiopian Sign Language, and she also focuses on the lexicography of sign languages. She is currently the president of DeafNET Africa and works as a leader in different Deaf associations in Ethiopia.

Chair: Evans Namasaka Burichani

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- Paper session 9

The closing session is in the last break to allow for maximal participation across time-zones. The Local Organising Committee will speak briefly and give the opportunity to the WOCAL Steering Committee to present their announcements and discuss the way forward for WOCAL.

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- Paper session 10

This is just a long good-bye! The conference closed earlier but the Wonder environment is open to have a last chat with old and new friends. See link in the announcement above - visible to logged in delegates. 

Poster advert of Hands! content

The HANDS! Festival showcases the beauty of sign languages in Africa and the Netherlands. The HANDS! Festival features performances of the winning contributions of a sign language literature competition in various African countries, pop up talks by sign language researchers, and performances of deaf artists in the Netherlands.

* Visual Vernacular (VV) and Sign Language Poems Show
* African Deaf Dance from Ghana
* Deaf Artists Handicrafts
* Interviews

To join the Hands! Festival (free of charge), please register by this link.