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Language Technology Competencies

Language Technology Specialists are competent in a number of technical and non-technical skills. This is SIL's complete list of competencies that are associated with the Language Technology domain. The various software applications on this site are connected to one of or more of these competencies. Anyone who wishes to improve their skill iin one of these areas would do well to familiarize themselves with the various software packages listed on each competency page.

Candidate Profile

A language technologist is expected to be a humble life-long learner. Theory, gleaned from attending lectures and passive research is helpful to get an understanding of the key issues in the domain. Ability is the result of combining education and intellect, but may still be untested in the real world. Experience is the result of continued efforts, successes and failures and, alongside education and ability, is the badge of honor that will be recognized by others in the field. It is recognized that one can cultivate ability and experience without formal education, and it will be the mentor for each competency that will assess progress of the candidate.

Like Consultants in other domains, Consultantship in Language Technology is a recognition of competency and excellence in many core and optional domains. Appropriate experience, problem solving, and communication skills are expected in the core, professional, and consultant competencies. In effect, the candidate is expected to be able to do and teach the core and professional skills and processes.

There is also a “buffet” of optional specialties. With the support of a mentor, a candidate can either choose to specialize deeply in a few domains or to pursue general understanding in a wide range of domains. Growth will usually be accompanied by in-depth study of the domain and a demonstrated understanding of the problems and activities encountered in this domain. LT skills will range from simple installation and configuration tasks to developing complex Language Technology solutions with domain Consultants. While even a high-level Language Technology Consultant may not be able to do or teach a task better than a Consultant specialized in the domain, the goal of a Language Technologist is to be able to speak into and propose technical solutions to the real problems of each domain.

A Language Technologist is expected to be a trainer. It is unreasonable that someone would be able to fully teach a skill without having done the process themselves, but once the groundwork of experience is laid, teaching the same skill to a user helps to cement it in the mind of a consultant. Practitioners in an LT competency should be able to complete or assist an end-users with concrete and discrete tasks such as opening or entering data. Trainers should be able to anticipate training needs and train either larger groups or for more complex tasks such as correcting data or basic analysis. Experts should be able to assist the most advanced consultants in the domains with Language Technology tasks and processes. All levels should also recognize the limits of their own expertise and defer critical decisions to informants or domain experts.

We as Language Technologists are communicators. It is not enough to be able to complete a task ourselves, but we serve as a bridge of communication between computers and people. It is our duty to use appropriate terms and concepts to connect the tasks that they desire to complete with an appropriate workflow or tool. Is our duty to master the language of wider communication for effective communication, cultivate English for research, and explore local languages to better understand the challenges and complexities of translation, literacy, etc.