Optimizing Developer Productivity in Endangered Language Documentation Apps

Luke Gessler

Most of the world’s languages will cease to be spoken by 2100, many before they are recorded. Domain-specific application software has the potential to allow more languages to be recorded, but most linguists continue to use generic tools like paper or spreadsheets instead of apps. I will argue that users don’t use these apps because their quality is not good enough, and that their quality is not good enough because of the severe shortage of development labor in the space of language documentation. I will then present an experimental app I created to investigate whether choice in programming tools (libraries, platform, etc.) could dramatically increase developer productivity, and therefore enable the creation of an app linguists would use.