kola tunbosun

Kola Tubosun is back.

Last year, we wrote about how the linguist and Fulbright scholar is working with a group of enthusiasts to get Twitter translated into his native language of Yoruba, which also happens to be spoken by more than 30 million people around the world. That project is still ongoing. However, Kola already begun to try and tackle another related challenge. This time, he wants to create an online dictionary for Yoruba names. He’s created an Indiegogo campaign to crowdfund the idea.

“To the Yorubas, a name is not just a name”, he says on the campaign page. “Names have meanings. Names are powerful. Names are an embodiment of history, of a family, of a lineage. We are raising children who are ignorant of this power (or meaning) of their names. Soon, one child at a time, a Yoruba name will be lost. Soon, one name at a time, the significance of the naming tradition will disappear”.

Kola wants to prevent people of Yoruba descent from forgetting their names by creating a multimedia database of all Yoruba names. A lot of the content will be manually sourced from books, radio, television and directly entered into a wiki-style database. As the wiki idea suggests, the platform will also rely user generated content in order to ensure continuous entries and updates from Yoruba speakers and enthusiasts all over the world.

The resulting dictionary that Kola envisions will have search capability, display etymology, morphology and phonology, audio pronunciations and alternative spellings. Each entry can be further annotated with sources that add meaningful context, historical backstories and other relevant cultural information. This means the next time Brad Pitt has to announce the name of a Yoruba actor, he won’t have to turn it into a song. He can just send them to www.yorubaname.com (purchased by Kola but non-functional as at the time of this writing) and www.orukoyoruba.com. Both domains currently redirect to the Indiegogo campaign.

It’s a fairly involved undertaking that will involve software and hardware. A web platform, recording equipment, and manpower will cost money. Kola wants to raise $5,000 to cover all the costs, but he reckons that if the crowdfunding campaign raises up to $1,500 on Indiegogo, it will be enough to at least create the online platform that can kickstart (no pun) a crowdsourced repository of Yoruba names and definitions.

To learn more about Kola’s project and back it, go to the Indiegogo campaign page.

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