Dr. Emmanuel Ngue Um is currently Associate Professor of African Languages and Linguistics at the Higher Teacher Training College of the University of Yaounde 1 in Cameroon. He is also Associate Editor of the International Journal of Arts and Humanities Computing (IJHAC). He received his PhD from the University of Provence (Aix-Marseille Université) in 2010. His research interests are language documentation and description, language revitalization, digital humanities, artificial intelligence and the history of African linguistics.
Being multilingual in several minority languages of Cameroon, such as Basaa, Ewondo, Duala, Bati, Bakola, Mvumbo, he has direct experience of what it means to be a member of a language group with few resources in a world where technology is increasingly mediating between language and society. Awareness of the language technology gap between a few resource-rich languages and the majority of less-endowed languages has been the main impetus for his involvement in technology-centered language activism. This activism manifests itself through language revitalization work in four key areas: first, through teaching; second, as a member of advocacy groups; third, through language data collection for machine learning; and fourth, through the development of machine translation systems.
Dr. Ngue Um has been teaching and researching language documentation and description, computational tools and methods for the study and revitalization of lesser-endowed languages in Africa for the past 14 years. He has organized and participated in several training events on digital humanities and technologies for enhanced documentation of African languages in Africa, Europe and the US. Since 2018, he has been a member of the Endangered Languages Project (ELP). In this position, he plays an active role in setting the vision and defining strategic plans and agendas for language preservation around the world. He is also the community representative for Basaa in Mozilla's Common Voice Initiative, a language data collection project for speech technology, and Principal Investigator for Common Voice Basaa. Dr. Ngue Um is also the main contributor to the Ewondo-French language pair, a rule-based machine translation system hosted on the Apertium platform.
He was the Director of the Archive of Languages and Oral Resources of Africa (ALORA) from 2014 to 2020 at the International Centre for Research and Documentation on African Traditions and Languages (CERDOTOLA). He is passionate about language technology and its potential to preserve linguistic diversity and contribute to making artificial intelligence more equitable and inclusive.