Thursday, June 13, 2019

Description of Ewe Repository

Ewe is a Gbe language, spoken in Ghana, Togo and Benin in west Africa.

The Ewe Repository is a collection of articles and books on and in Ewe for serious Ewe scholars. As of today (June 13, 2019) it contains 289 files. It is not accessible publicly on the internet, although we are looking into creating an internet accessible version. If you are an Ewe scholar, and are interested in joining, the price of admission is to send me paper or book on or in Ewe that we do not already have. Then I will sign you up. Even if you do not want to be a member, if you have books or papers on or in Ewe, please send them to me.

So far the repository is structured into the following folders:

1. Books in Ewe (60 files)
2. Ewe Grammars and Dictionaries (34 files)
3. Ewe Linguistics (96 files)
4. Ewe People (17 files)
5. Gbe Languages (67 files)
6. Ghana-Togo Mountain Languages (15 files)

All the documents in the repository are in a searchable .pdf format.

Categories 5 and 6 are not directly about Ewe, but are relevant. Ewe is a Gbe language, and so it is natural to have papers and books on other Gbe languages in the repository. Ewe surrounds the GTM languages, and there is a long history of contact between them. Furthermore, lots of people who work on Ewe also work on the GTM languages.

I am particularly interested in starting a new section on newspapers. I am now actively looking for sources. If you have access to Ewe newspapers, please let me know.

The repository has been built up by me and various research assistants, including Elvis Yevudey, Selikem Gotah, Hagen Blix and Philip Shushurin. We owe a particularly important contribution to Kofi Yakpo for providing several dictionaries. Both Bonny Sands and Harald Hammarström have made important contributions.

Creating language repositories would be useful for other African languages as well (e.g., Setswana or Khoekhoe). If anybody knows of similar efforts, please let me know.

The reasons to create this repository are the following (there may be others):

1. Traditionally Ewe literature is hard to find. One must be in Ghana or Togo to buy certain books, and even then, only a small selection of books in Ewe are available. For people who like to read Ewe literature (e.g., the famous Agbezuge) or Ewe children's books, the Ewe repository provides them with the opportunity to do so.

2. The Ewe repository will allow researchers access to electronically searchable documents. This will help in carrying out linguistic research on various topics. For example, for a syntax paper, one can search for all examples of a particular kind of construction. These examples could help you form generalizations (e.g., about compounding or logophoricity), and they can be used as illustrations in papers.

3. Similarly, the corpus in the Ewe repository could help in dictionary writing efforts. One could find many examples of a particular word, and then use the examples in the dictionary.

4. The Ewe repository will allow researchers to access these documents wherever they have their computer and access to the internet. In particular, there will be no need to carry lots of documents to the field or to temporary locations where they may be staying.

5. The Ewe repository will make difficult to obtain documents available to researchers, some of which may not even be available in university libraries (e.g., Ansre 1961 "The Tonal Structure of Ewe" or Essegbey 1993 "The X-Bar Theory and the Ewe Noun Phrase", amongst others).

6. The Ewe repository will facilitate the comparison of Ewe to closely related languages (such as Fongbe, and even Akan), by making linguistic resources more easily available.

7. The Ewe repository will facilitate quick and easy communication between Ewe scholars on recent developments in Ewe linguistics.

8. The Ewe repository could potentially facilitate natural language processing research on so called "low-density languages".

9. And most importantly, the Ewe repository will promote the Ewe language, Ewe culture and Ewe written literature by facilitating access to documents.

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