Kencorpus: A Kenyan Language Corpus of Swahili, Dholuo and Luhya for Natural Language Processing Tasks
Barack Wanjawa, Lilian Wanzare, Florence Indede, Owen McOnyango, Edward Ombui, Lawrence Muchemi
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Indigenous African languages are categorized as under-served in Artificial Intelligence and suffer poor digital inclusivity and information access. The challenge has been how to use machine learning and deep learning models without the requisite data. Kencorpus is a Kenyan Language corpus that intends to bridge the gap on how to collect, and store text and speech data that is good enough to enable data-driven solutions in applications such as machine translation, question answering and transcription in multilingual communities. Kencorpus is a corpus (text and speech) for three languages predominantly spoken in Kenya: Swahili, Dholuo and Luhya (dialects Lumarachi, Lulogooli and Lubukusu). This corpus intends to fill the gap of developing a dataset that can be used for Natural Language Processing and Machine Learning tasks for low-resource languages. Each of these languages contributed text and speech data for the language corpus. Data collection was done by researchers from communities, schools and collaborating partners (media, publishers). Kencorpus has a collection of 5,594 items, being 4,442 texts (5.6million words) and 1,152 speech files (177hrs). Based on this data, other datasets were also developed e.g POS tagging sets for Dholuo and Luhya (50,000 and 93,000 words tagged respectively), Question-Answer pairs from Swahili texts (7,537 QA pairs) and Translation of texts into Swahili (12,400 sentences). The datasets are useful for machine learning tasks such as text processing, annotation and translation. The project also undertook proof of concept systems in speech to text and machine learning for QA task, with initial results confirming the usability of the Kencorpus to the machine learning community. Kencorpus is the first such corpus of its kind for these low resource languages and forms a basis of learning and sharing experiences for similar works.