Monday, March 12, 2007 - free, online White Hmong dictionary and text reader

[Update: The Lomation website has moved in a new direction, but the White Hmong Text Reader and Dictionary is still available here. For a more recent information about online Hmong language and dictionary resources, check out this post.]

Inspired by the need for Hmong language learning resources, Koua Lor and his wife, Pa Houa, began developing the framework for what would become - home to a free, online White Hmong dictionary and text reader. Their goal - use computer technology to make language learning fun and simple. Work on the project began in 2000, but stopped a year later when it appeared that there wasn't a strong demand for Hmong educational materials. When Koua was asked by his brother, Dr. Bee Lo of UW-La Crosse, to develop software for a Hmong language course he taught, the project was resumed. The course was a success and since then, Koua and Pa have continued to work on the software. In May of 2006, they released a version of the dictionary and reader on the web, and in early March of 2007, they released a major update.

The Hmong Text Reader with integrated Dictionary (HTRiD) presents the user with a text box into which White Hmong in RPA can be entered. Clicking the "Read" button processes the text - resulting in a word-by-word spoken rendition based on sound files recorded by Pa. (Around 1,800 words have been recorded so far.) By placing the mouse cursor over the words of the text, a small window appears with English definitions and example uses of the selected word. (The home page of the website also features a box where single words can be entered to find English definitions.) The mouse over feature is limited to analyzing the text word-by-word, but often the examples offered with the English definition include common uses in expressions. While the dictionary is not exhaustive, for a quick, easy-to-use, FREE online tool - the results are impressive.

Dedicated to preserving the Hmong language, Koua and Pa continue to improve the HTRiD as a labor of love, and it looks like they might be posting more frequently to the blog-like home page of the website (including a recent post on what syllables are possible in the Hmong language). Their generosity is a great service to all of us who hope to learn more about Hmong language and culture.

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