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Digital archiving for PH languages preservation eyed

The Komisyon sa Wikang Filipino (KWF) is set to develop a digital archive of Philippine languages.

"Archiving is among our efforts to help preserve languages nationwide," KWF Sangay ng Literatura at Araling Kultural Officer-in-Charge Lourdes Hinampas said on Monday. The agency, tasked to promote Philippine languages, held a seminar-workshop on language archiving in Quezon City.

Hinampas said Philippine languages are part of the country's culture, so the KWF must preserve and make these available for reference and use by present and future generations.

She said the agency came up with the seminar-workshop, so its personnel who would be involved in digital archiving could gain knowledge in matters like data management, collection, storage, as well as formatting and conversion of recordings.

The KWF, she added, aims to consult with its partners and experts on setting the work plan that will help identify logistics and other requirements for the digital archive's development.

A presentation by language documentation expert Dr. Mandana Seyfeddinipur of the University of London's School of Oriental and African Studies showed that a digital archive is a trusted repository created and maintained by an institution with a commitment to long-term preservation of the archived material.

Among archiving's benefits, the expert added, are data security by keeping electronic materials safe, and data preservation by storing these materials for the long-term.

"Language is the one human faculty that makes us different from all other species," Mandana said at the event.

Extinction of language means loss of unwritten information like oral literature and those tackling weddings and other rituals, she added.

KWF Commissioner Purificacion Delima said the agency was already able to document 129 languages nationwide so far.

"We already have a good collection of metadata for Philippine languages," Delima said at the seminar-workshop.

The data, she noted, are "just lying around out there," so KWF targets to digitally archive these soon.

"The mandate of KWF is to take care, develop, propagate Filipino, even as it takes care of all other Philippine languages," she said.

Filipino is the country's national language as provided for in the 1987 Constitution.

Earlier, the KWF said the seminar-workshop on digital archiving is among its activities aligned with the celebration of the International Year of Indigenous Languages in 2019.

In 2016, the United Nations General Assembly adopted a resolution proclaiming 2019 as International Year of Indigenous Languages and requested the United Nations Educational, Scientific, and Cultural Organization to lead the commemoration.

Catherine Teves / PNA