I Hear Dee launches Shaetlan dictionary

Shetland linguistic group I Hear Dee has announced their latest project: Da Spaektionary.

Created by Viveka Velupillai and Roy Mullay after months of work, it was officially launched last Friday.

The Speaktionary is an interactive dictionary that allows for a crowd-sourced representation of Shaetlan speech.

It launches with nearly 8,000 lemmas, which Ms Velupillai describes as “base forms of words and expressions” based on the group’s database.

She added: “The purpose of the dictionary is to let the community of Shaetlan speakers pull together to enhance and enlarge this dictionary.

“The idea was hatched by James Stewart, who is a Shetlander and a native speaker of Shaetlan and who contacted us in mid-May about potential collaboration.

“He very rightly felt that the existing dictionaries did not accurately represent the speech of his family in Burra, nor of his family in Whalsay.”

Da Speaktionary will be the largest dictionary of Shaetlan since Jakobson’s Dictionary of the Norn Language.

However, what sets Da Speaktionary apart is that it incorporates modern words and expressions, for example faesscloot (Facebook), as well as more traditional ones.

I Hear Dee has specified that the contents of Da Speaktionary are not necessarily all unique to Shetland given that, much like any language, the Shaetlan lexicon can overlap with languages from all over the world.

Ms Velupillai said: “Da Spaektionary is a representative snapshot of contemporary Shaetlan speech.

“It is, as mentioned, based on our project lexicon database, which in turn comprises the known contemporary dictionaries of Shaetlan as well as a corpus of 37,5 hours of speech from 20 Shetland Museum & Archives oral history recordings.”

The dictionary is primarily web based but the group has ensured that it can be accessible on both mobile phones and desktop web browsers with ease.


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