Oxford Global Languages FAQs

What are the goals of Oxford Global Languages (OGL)?

The programme’s overall objective is to put content for 100 languages up online and make that content available to users and developers all over the world. To do this, the team needs to create language and dictionary content that can be stored, linked, and accessed in multiple ways. The OGL initiative will enable the development of new digital tools and resources to support digitally under-represented languages as well as the world’s major languages. It will give these languages a living, growing, vibrant presence in the digital landscape, and help to document them, including their variants and dialects.

How do you select which languages to launch?

OGL aims to have at least 100 languages in total and we know this will take a number of years to achieve. We started with just ten very different languages from a range of regions, each with different levels of digital presence, to demonstrate the OGL principles and challenge our assumptions as we go. As the programme develops, we will expand to cover a broad range of global and digitally under-represented languages.

Which languages are included in the programme? And where can I find out which languages will be coming?

You can track the languages we have launched and find out which languages are being added to the programme here. Alternatively, you can sign up to our Oxford Global Languages newsletter by getting in touch here.

Do you work with local organizations and government bodies on the programme?

Yes, but we are not affiliated to or part of any existing entity. OGL is a new and completely independent initiative supported by Oxford University Press (OUP) as part of Oxford University’s mission to disseminate learning and scholarship worldwide. However, we are keen to work in partnership with any organization that shares in or has an interest in OGL’s goals and, as the programme continues to develop, we will seek connections with government bodies, academics, universities, philanthropic organizations, and companies.  We have already built some great relationships with partners, academics, and language experts around the globe. If you are interested in being a part of the programme, please get in contact here.

Where does the content come from for each of the language sites?

Our content is based on real language, real usage, and real users. For some languages in the OGL programme, up-to-date dictionaries simply don’t exist. So while in some cases we use an existing dictionary as our starting point, in other cases we need to start with a framework of meaning together with raw material of language usage – corpora – from which we automatically extract all sorts of language information.  This gives our lexicographers the base from which to create new content. We also invite you, the users, to get involved, for example by contributing translations and other information relating to your language.  This user-generated content then informs the editorial work to expand the information available for each language.

Does user-generated content distort the ‘traditional’ language?

Language issues get people talking because people feel passionately about the language they speak. Some people feel that only ‘experts’ can know about language and that slang or colloquial use is somehow ‘wrong’ and has no place in a dictionary. We believe that all forms of language, formal and informal, are important, and that native speakers already know a lot about their own language. Our aim with the OGL programme is to gather as much information as possible about how a language is used – by all its users – so that what we do is relevant to everyone.

Some languages have much wider coverage than others. Why is this?

One of the principles of the programme is to start small, and build. So even if we have only a small amount of content available for a language, we may be able to include it in the programme in order to allow users to start to use the content and give us feedback. As the programme develops, the content grows too.

How can I add my dictionary or my language to the OGL programme?

Of course we can’t include everything but there are certainly languages where we don’t already have content available. If you, your university, or your organization has something you think might be of interest to the programme, or have suggestions about the direction OGL should take, please do get in touch.

What is OUP's role in developing languages from across the globe?

OUP is a department of the University of Oxford and, as such, it shares the University's mission to spread knowledge and learning worldwide. It is a global publishing organization with unique resources, skills, and knowledge and a long history of providing high quality educational materials, which are used around the world. We work with local language experts, who are part of their language community, to develop content that is specific to their language. This is part of our mission: sharing our resources for the benefit of the wider community.

How much involvement do local language communities have?

Community involvement is essential. We want local language communities to be involved with the programme, whether this is in suggesting content or simply accessing our resources. As the programme develops there will be new initiatives to allow language communities to build and make use of content in their languages.

What makes OGL different?

Many programmes offer free language sites or aim to collect language resources, but few programmes exist to create broad and deep lexical resources for so many languages, with the strong lexicographical principles which underpin OGL. Content is based on real usage and kept up to date and maintained for the long term, keeping languages living and vibrant. The reason is in our mission – we are building for the long-term future of languages worldwide, not for immediate gain.

Is OGL content free?

All the OGL websites are free to use.  You can look up words, translations, and other language information. The sites are always presented in the source language and sometimes in English as well to make them as usable as possible.

As well as launching OGL on websites, we also include them in the Oxford Dictionaries API programme. If you are a developer interested in using language data in your application, you can freely access OGL content for private use and limited usage, and can subscribe to our monthly plans if you wish to continue to use the APIs more extensively. Please visit our API page or get in touch with us here for more details.

Where can I find out about getting involved with the OGL project?

We would love to hear from you, so do get in touch if:

  • you would like to find out more about the programme
  • you feel you or your organization would like to collaborate with Oxford Dictionaries in helping us to reach OGL’s goals
  • you would like to stay in touch by signing up to the OGL newsletter

Get in touch here.

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