Helps non-linguists build a dictionary in their own language


WeSay helps non-linguists build a dictionary in their own language. It has various ways to help native speakers to think of words in their language and enter some basic data about them (no backslash codes, just forms to fill in). The program is customizable and task-oriented, giving the advisor the ability to turn on/off tasks as needed and as the user receives training for those tasks. WeSay uses a standard XML format and can be automatically exchanged with our linguist-oriented tool like Fieldworks Language Explorer (FLEx). Users can collaborate via USB flash drive, email, and network connections.

The need

Around the world, speakers of lesser known languages are eager to develop their own languages. Part of that development will mean collecting stories for publication and developing a dictionary. In many cases, they are limited to working without the help of a computer. This is a difficult environment for computer use, as there is often:

  • No previous computer exposure
  • No local computer training or maintenance
  • Limited electricity
  • Limited or non-existent connection to the internet
  • Dusty, wet, hot, humid conditions

The solution

WeSay is an Open Source project aimed at providing computer tools to help communities perform several language development activities on their own. It will be extremely simple, task oriented, and available on hardware that is appropriate to their environment. At the same time, these tools will enable data sharing with advisors running more traditional, high-powered linguistic and publishing software. The idea is to empower communities to do their own high-quality data gathering, leaving the more technical aspect of publishing to more traditional platforms.

WeSay will be of interest in those situations where native speakers are ready to play a direct, ongoing role in the construction of a dictionary and collection/transcription of stories in their own language, using something other than paper.

Basic data to simple printouts

WeSay has various ways to help native speakers to think of words in their language and enter some basic data about them (no backslash codes, just forms to fill in). They can make local, simple printouts for local use, checking, and peer review. The program supports the sharing of gathered words via USB key or email (where available).

Recent News Posts


  • WeSay 1.6 Beta 1 September 27, 2017
    We are pleased to announce the first beta release of WeSay 1.6 What’s New in 1.6? Version 1.6 provides a new feature to choose either Definition (default) or Gloss as the Meaning field. You can find the option in the WeSay Configuration tool in the configration of the Dictionary Browse and Edit task. Gloss is […]
  • WeSay 1.5 release version February 2, 2015
    WeSay 1.5 is now considered the official “release version.” The Windows version can be downloaded here: WeSay 1.5.39 for Windows MSI | 52.82 MB | 15 Feb 2017 and there are installation instructions for Linux on the downloads page. Most of the known bugs have been fixed. However, do check out our “Known Issues” below. […]