Getting Started


What is Mother Tongues Dictionaries?

Mother Tongues Dictionaries (MTD) is a tool developed to facilitate the rapid, inexpensive development of digital dictionaries, with a particular focus on language revitalization of Indigenous languages. For a primer in understanding some of the motivations behind language revitalization, see this chapter of the Oxford Research Encyclopedia of Linguistics.

MTD is unique in a number of ways:

  1. Approximate search comes out of the box, and the algorithm can be easily customized. See guides
  2. Free & open source. MTD is licensed by AGPL 3.0.
  3. Multiple platforms. MTD has a number of front ends that it is compatible with, including for the Web, iOS and Android.

MTD Structure

You can think of creating a Mother Tongues Dictionary as involving two distinct parts:

1. MTD - The tool documented here, which is essentially a text processing tool. It is able to take data for one or more languages from multiple different sources (spreadsheets, websites, plain text files etc...) and combine the data, sort it, index it, find duplicates, create a 'compare form' to be used by the approximate search algorithm, and then export it to a number of different formats.

2. MTD-UI - A front-end tool for visualizing your dictionary. Each front end tool must accept two files. The first file is a "config.js" file which has information about the dictionary including an alphabet to sort by, the name of the language and other metadata. The second file is a 'data_cached.js" file which contains all the lexical (word related) data for the dictionary.

Making a Dictionary

To make a dictionary from your data, you need to do the following three things:

  1. Install mothertongues, see installation.
  2. Write a valid Mother Tongues Language configuration file. See guides
  3. Write valid Mother Tongues data resource configuration files. See guides

Then, build with the command line:

mothertongues prepare <path_to_language_configuration>
mothertongues run

And open your browser at localhost:5000 to see your dictionary.

or build with Python:

from mtd import create_dictionary
from import app
dictionary = create_dictionary(<path_to_language_configuration>)

Exporting a Dictionary

Finally, you can export your dictionaries to JavaScript to be used with an MTD frontend (See User Interface) using either the command line:

mothertongues export <path_to_language_configuration> js <output_dir>

Or Python:

config_js = dictionary.return_formatted_config(form='js')
with open('config.js', 'w', encoding='utf8') as f:
dict_cached_js = dictionary.return_formatted_data(form='js')
with open('dict_cached.js', 'w', encoding='utf8') as f:

Or freeze your Dictionaries as a static site:

mothertongues export <path_to_language_configuration> web <output_dir>

API will not work as static site.