If given a 12 weeks opportunity in a research institution in Virginia this summer, all expenses paid, and a chance to develop my own linguistics ideas and projects, what will I do? I just got off the phone a few minutes ago with a recruiting agent from a popular language and linguistics research institution/company recruiting for summer internships for graduate students. I had been contacted as one of the people being interviewed for one of the three open slots for this coming summer.
I’m half ecstatic, and half perplexed because I realize the limitations or improbability of research openings for Yoruba language development for technology. Or not. In the area of research and development, I am limited to a choice between working on a scope of already tried theories on grammar, and developing new ways of making the language relevant in the new century. I’ve always been more inclined to the latter though it is not altogether possible without the former. My undergraduate project was a Multimedia Dictionary of Yoruba names, and I’ve written a few articles on language translation which is my favourite subject. What I wish to go further into however is examining the interface between machine translation and human translation with a view to improving what already exists. I’m talking about lexicography and research into finding new words to cater for new ideas not already represented in the language.
How much this research facility is willing to put their bet on a language spoken only by over 30 million people and is constantly being targeted by new technology (like Nokia, Samsung, Microsoft and others) is up for guessing, but I hope that I put up a good interview. I already enjoy the thoughts of sitting in small quiet campus thinking up new ideas to further bring an already capable language into more modern-day capability. The winners will be linguists, translators, research institutes, schools, student and new language learners all around the world. Fingers crossed.