The Project for Free Electronic Dictionaries began in late 2007, when a group at the University of Sydney was recruited to create an electronic version of a nineteenth century manuscript and book of the Kaurna language of Adelaide. The electronic version eventually became the Kaurna Electronic Dictionary, and came with a mobile phone version complete with some sound files.
After the Kaurna dictionary was completed, James McElvenny and Aidan Wilson decided they would continue producing dictionaries using the skills and expertise they acquired. They have since been working with the Dharug community of western Sydney, and are about to begin work on the Wagiman language, a highly endangered language from Australia’s top-end.
A large part of the project lies in creating a software package that can be used to easily convert dictionary files, such as toolbox/shoebox databases, into the more flexible XML format, and can also provide the means for creating and displaying electronic dictionaries based on XML format. We also plan to make it easy to produce mobile phone versions of dictionaries for maximised exposure.
The project is still in its infancy, but soon we hope to be able to deliver software, documentation and instructions, as well as journaling our progress with the Wagiman dictionary.