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History of Kamusi 1993 - 2015

Archived Page

This is a page from the Kamusi archives. The information below may be out of date, and the links may no longer be valid. Please visit for current information. If you know of links or information on this page that can be updated, please let us know.

What is the history of the Kamusi Project?

A history of Kamusi prior to 2011 is linked here, and should be updated in conjunction with the launch of the 2015 Big Data Beta.

Here are some annual highlights:

1993: Project conceived as a way to use collective resources to create new tools for learning Swahili.
1994: First proposal submitted, November. First glossary (3,000 words) begun, December.
1995: Gopher site established, January. Website established, April - first website in the social sciences or humanities at Yale. Wordlists incorporated from many remote contributors. 21,000 entry dictionary posted, September.
1996: Data entry to incorporate Rechenbach's Swahili-English Dictionary .
1997: Data editing.
1998: Programming work begins on Edit Engine. Swahili-Russian dictionary posted.
1999: 56,000 entry dictionary posted, Discussion Forum established, Africa Guide established.
2000: Revised dictionary posted, Edit Engine launched, April.
2001 - 2002: Project has no funding. Development work slows to a crawl, though Edit Engine submissions regularly incorporated into Kamusi lexicon.
2003: Renewed funding begins late July. Development work begins on Learning Guide.
2004: Move to faster, more secure server completed, March. Photo Upload feature introduced, May. Enabled search of plural forms, June. Begin formal collaboration with University of Dar es Salaam Department of Computer Science to establish a mirror server in Tanzania and incorporate computer terminology into the Kamusi lexicon, October. Launch complete site redesign, November. Introduce specialized vocabulary features, November. Continue work on Learning Center .
2005: Introduce the Grouping Tool to arrange dictionary entries. Add new data fields for terminology, dialect, taxonomy, derivation, related words, English definitions, and alternate spellings. Migrate to a more stable and flexible software platform. Improve search and display features. Add user conveniences, including more direct access to the Edit Engine.
2006: Funding runs out in January, project staff furloughed. Work continues with the help of private donations, including a generous grant from the Negaunee Foundation. The Kamusi Parser is introduced that allows users to search and evaluate conjugated Swahili verbs directly within the search engine.
2007: Project is moved from Yale to the World Language Documentation Centre and development work continues with the support of private donations.
2008: National Endowment for the Humanities grant to Grambling University to begin work within Kamusi for expanding the model to multiple languages, with a focus on Kinyarwanda. This grant was subsequently transferred directly to Kamusi after we completed our incorporation as a US legal non-profit corporation.
2009: Incorporation of Kamusi Project USA as a 501(c)(3) non-profit organization registered in Delaware, and Kamusi Project International as a non-governmental organization with the equivalent status registered in Geneva.
2010: Development of KamusiTERMS participatory terminology system and production of localization terminologies in 12 African languages, with the African Network for Localization, IT46, Translate House, and the support of IDRC in Canada. New logo unveiled.
2011: Begin work with University of Ngozi in Burundi on Kirundi language, in association with Universidad Politécnica de Madrid, with students receiving stipends in exchange for working on Kirundi entries.
2012: Programming of multilingual platform with Telamenta in South Africa.
2013: Launch of multilingual pilot, with 100 parallel terms defined in 20 languages, demonstrates that the new multilingual system works and has the potential to scale for unlimited additional languages. However, with no funding for continued language work, linguistic development grinds to a halt. In September, Kamusi joins the Distributed Information Systems Laboratory (LSIR) at EPFL in Switzerland, with support for certain technical development. In November, Kamusi is recognized as a launch partner in the White House Big Data Initiative.
2014: Focus on technical development, including games and mobile apps for engaging the public in the production of linguistic data.
2015: Our Big Data Beta introduces 1.2 million new interlinked records in more than 20 languages, proving Kamusi's capacity to scale. Work is launched on Vietnamese.


Kamusi GOLD

These are the languages for which we have datasets that we are actively working toward putting online. Languages that are Active for you to search are marked with "A" in the list below.


•A = Active language, aligned and searchable
•c = Data 🔢 elicited through the Comparative African Word List
•d = Data from independent sources that Kamusi participants align playing 🐥📊 DUCKS
•e = Data from the 🎮 games you can play on 😂🌎🤖 EmojiWorldBot
•P = Pending language, data in queue for alignment
•w = Data from 🔠🕸 WordNet teams

Software and Systems

We are actively creating new software for you to make use of and contribute to the 🎓 knowledge we are bringing together. Learn about software that is ready for you to download or in development, and the unique data systems we are putting in place for advanced language learning and technology:

Articles and Information

Kamusi has many elements. With these articles, you can read the details that interest you:

Videos and Slideshows

Some of what you need to know about Kamusi can best be understood visually. Our 📽 videos are not professional, but we hope you find them useful:


Our partners - past, present, and future - include:

Hack Kamusi

Here are some of the work elements on our task list that you can help do or fund:

Theory of Kamusi

Select a link below to learn about the principles that guide the project's unique approach to lexicography and public service.

Contact Us

We welcome your comments and questions, and will try to respond quickly. To get in touch, please visit our contact page. You must use a real email address if you want to get a real reply!

© Copyright ©

The Kamusi Project dictionaries and the Kamusi Project databases are intellectual property protected by international copyright law, ©2007 through ©2018, under the joint ownership of Kamusi Project International and Kamusi Project USA. Further explanation may be found on our © Copyright page.

This work is licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution-Noncommercial-Share Alike 3.0 Unported License.


Discussion items about language, technology, and society, from the Kamusi editor and others. This box is growing. To help develop or fund the project, please contact us!

Our biggest struggle is keeping Kamusi online and keeping it free. We cannot charge money for our services because that would block access to the very people we most want to benefit, the students and speakers of languages around the world that are almost always excluded from information technology. So, we ask, request, beseech, beg you, to please support our work by donating as generously as you can to help build and maintain this unique public resource.


Frequently Asked Questions

Answers to general questions you might have about Kamusi services.

We are building this page around real questions from members of the Kamusi community. Send us a question that you think will help other visitors to the site, and frequently we will place the answer here.

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Press Coverage

Kamusi in the news: Reports by journalists and bloggers about our work in newspapers, television, radio, and online.

Sponsor Search:
Who Do You Know?

To keep Kamusi growing as a "free" knowledge resource for the world's languages, we need major contributions from philanthropists and organizations. Do you have any connections with a generous person, corporation, foundation, or family office that might wish to make a long term impact on educational outcomes and economic opportunity for speakers of excluded languages around the world? If you can help us reach out to a potential 💛😇 GOLD Angel, please contact us!