(Sika Brandt Wille/News from Greenland, 23 February 2009) -- For people using computers in Greenland almost all information, such as technical menus and instructions, is in either Danish or English. Recent government language initiatives are making it increasingly important for Greenlandic to be catered for in technology, enabling better language learning and development. It is exactly this task that Beatrine Heilmann, one of three students of data-linguistics at Ilisimatusarfik—the University of Greenland, has set out to solve. Heilmann suggests that once the technology is in place for words and terminology to be automatically translated into Greenlandic, the possibilities will be endless. ‘Once a system is set in place with Greenlandic words you would then be able to expand into other areas such as developing a spell checker for mobile telephone text messages in Greenlandic,’ Heilmann said. The program could also make it easier to write in Greenlandic on a computer. Previously, Languages Secretariat Oqaasileriffik developed a Greenlandic spell checker, but new developments would allow the computer to also identify grammatical mistakes. Another advantage would be that disabled people, who are often very dependant on computers, would be able to have information in their mother tongue. A Greenlandic computer could also be used to do things other than just word processing, mail and spreadsheets. Computer Games in Greenlandic would also be an option by automatically translating English phrases. Heilmann pointed out that this would ‘allow youngsters to use their leisure time in developing their mother tongue proficiency’. Per Lang Farm, who teaches the introductory data-linguistics course, suggested that it may take a long time before a program is ready to make Greenlandic available on the computer. ‘It will take three years just to develop a computer program that can handle the Greenlandic grammar. Then we will have to develop the program so that it can handle entire sentences in Greenlandic,’ said Farm
Posted 24 February 2009; 11:29:17 PM. Permalink
(Jesper Hansen/Arctic Council News, 23 February 2009) -- A new report confirms high levels of heavy metals in traditional Greenlandic food. It is a challenge to substitute imported substandard foods with a more healthy diet, says the SLiCA Chief, Birger Poppel. People in Greenland are more exposed to contaminants from their diet than people in Europe and North America. The cause is that marine traditional food items such as fish, seabirds, seals and whales are much more important in Greenland, and that at the same time some of these food items contain high levels of heavy metals. Now, these well known facts from several sources are confirmed by at new report from the National Environmental Research Institute, NERI [which means eating in Greenlandic], in Denmark. The report presents contaminant data from muscle, liver, kidney and blubber from hooded seal and walrus and blubber and skin from minke whale. All samples were collected in West Greenland. Earlier research programs have showed that within the Arctic, Greenlanders have the highest concentrations of mercury and most organochlorines and estimated daily intakes of mercury, cadmium and several organochlorine compounds exceed "acceptable or tolerable daily intakes" for many people in Greenland. The problem has been discussed in the SLiCA project (Survey of Living Conditions in the Arctic, an Arctic Council project under the Sustainable Development Working Group). Birger Poppel, Research Project Chief, SLiCA at Ilisimatusarfik/University of Greenland says: "Results from SLiCA document that almost seven out of ten Greenlandic households report that half or more than half of the meat and fish consumed by the household is traditional food. Furthermore, a substantial part of the traditional food consumption is harvested by the households or received as gifts from other households. Eating, harvesting and sharing traditional food has economic, nutritional, dietary and social aspects and is also part of the cultural identity. Changes in the consumption of Greenlandic food, for whatever reason, would therefore without doubt impact the Greenlanders' way of life in many ways. Recent findings indicate a decreasing consumption of traditional food and the actual challenge seems to be substituting imported substandard food with a more healthy diet."
Posted 24 February 2009; 10:05:49 PM. Permalink