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Excerpt from source: Sunkanmi Olaleye – a master’s student in computer science – is investigating how novel mobile technology can interface with African digital heritage documents as a way of preserving the extinct |Xam language.

“So many languages in Africa are becoming extinct. There’s this craving for English, at the expense of our own cultural heritage. We’re hoping that Xamobile will help to preserve and revive languages such as |Xam, which used to be spoken in the Western Cape,” says Olaleye.

The project, which has involved multi-faceted research, has taken much patience and incredible attention to detail.

Olaleye’s research compares different custom mobile text-entry techniques for the |Xam language, which may be encoded as about 35 000 unique and complete characters. These consist of single characters or combinations of two to three, with diacritics (marks added to a letter to distinguish it in some way) appearing above characters, below characters and sometimes in both places.

Olaleye had to construct a Unicode mapping for each of the unique characters in the language. Special symbols were included for clicks.

He composed the codes with the help of the highly respected Bleek and Lloyd Collection – rich, hand-written records of |Xam language, culture and heritage from the late 1800s. Records of the language currently exist in these handwritten notebooks, as well as in a digitised dictionary.

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Thanks to Niall McNulty @niallmcn for mentioning this post.