The LSI shut its doors June 21, but LLC had lots more to get done. From June 24-27, six Lakota fluent speakers joined LLC staff at Makoché Studios in Bismarck, to record 20,000 Lakota words for the New Lakota Dictionary-Online. This audio component of the NLD-O, which will allow users to hear a Lakota word spoken correctly as they call it up, is the final element of the NLD-O and has taken years to come to fruition.
The speakers were Ken and Bernadine Little Thunder, Iris Eagle Chasing, Manny Iron Hawk, Ben Black Bear and Kevin Locke. The LLC team included Linguistic Director Jan Ullrich as Project Manager, assisted by linguists Armik Mirzayan and Nacole Walker.
The staff at Makoché set up three recording areas so that three speakers at a time could record simultaneously. The grueling eight-hour days yielded nearly 100 hours of audio, documenting both male and female voices speaking all 20,000 Lakota words.
Jan Ullrich had already spent weeks beforehand preparing printouts of the 20,000 words – and even now the work is not done. Now Ullrich, Mirzayan and the NLD-O programmer Konstantine Chmielnicki will spend about three months separating the 100 hours of audio into individual audio files for each word, “clean” the sound quality, select the best spoken version of each word, and connect the audio files to the online text database so that a word search will bring up the audio file along with the written word.
The recording project has been supported by grants from the Endangered Language Fund and the North Dakota Humanities Council, and by an online fundraising campaign that raised $2,500.00 from individuals around the world.