A Smart Dictionary for Passamaquoddy

We are trying to build a “smart” online dictionary for the Passamaquoddy language, based on the open source technology developed at the Arctic University of Tromsø by the Giellatekno group.

The goal is to make a dictionary that will be able to, among other things:

  • Generate complete paradigms on the fly for any verb, noun, or other parts of speech;
  • Recognize and parse inflected forms, helping users to find what verb/noun/… they’re a form of;
  • Decompose forms containing several roots (so-called “initials”, “medials”, and “finals” in the Algonquianist tradition).

Dictionaries like this already exist for other languages, even ones related to Passamaquoddy, such as Plains Cree. This is extremely handy for people who want to learn the language.

On the technical side, the infrastructure is based on finite state transducers, formalized in lexc and twolc, then compiled with hfst into functioning programs for morphological analysis. This technology has the advantage of not requiring massive datasets, which don’t exist for low-resource languages like Passamaquoddy.