YEREVAN — In June 2015, the Armenian Communities Department (ACD) of the Calouste Gulbenkian Foundation and the Tumo Center for Creative Technologies (TUMO) organised a joint workshop in Yerevan to discuss challenges and opportunities at the intersection of IT and the Armenian language. Thirty invited experts addressed the gap between the Armenian language and developments in IT, and proposed concrete suggestions and initiatives for the advancement of Armenian in the digital age. It also initiated discussion within the larger community of academics and practitioners to identify key projects and potential funding sources for them.
Among the participants were linguists, IT professionals, writers, teachers, font designers and publishers, representing both Eastern and Western Armenian and spanning the spectrum of specialties across technology and language. The workshop discussions resulted in six main areas that need to be further explored through developing projects, processes and products. Of the six, the following three are being prioritised for funding in 2016 through this call for proposals:
-Project(s) dealing with the technology layer, to create a Western Armenian National Corpus (WANC), based on which a universal Western Armenian spellchecker can be developed, as well as other language tools, to be used in various digital platforms. It should include components that could be used in various applications.
-Project(s) dealing with the language/education layer, to develop various digital and interactive resources for teaching purposes of both Western and Eastern Armenian, specifically in the diasporan content.
-Project(s) dealing with the content layer, to generate online content and encourage literary production in both Western and Eastern Armenian.
Two further areas that need to be addressed at a later stage include the accessibility and quality of Armenian translations of books for adolescents and the lack of readily available Armenian typefaces in existing operating systems, as well as the dearth of Armenian typography designers.
In addition to the above, the sixth and final suggestion of the workshop, was to establish a Steering Committee that would act as a coordinating body dealing with issues and policies affecting the Armenian language and digital integration. This group will be set up after the review of the applications to avoid any conflicts of interests.
Through this call for proposals, we would like to invite interested parties to submit projects dealing with any of the key three issues identified above. The ACD will provide seed funding and will also solicit co-funding and partnerships for larger projects.
The animating objective of this initiative is to develop innovative digital products with long-term impact, so that younger generation of Armenians – especially in the diaspora – create, collaborate and consume using the Armenian language in the digital sphere.
To find out more information about the application process please visit the Armenian Communities Website.