More about me.
This page contains some general information about me.
My full name is Gideon Jozua Kotzé and I was born in Empangeni, South Africa, on the 9th of June, 1981. My mother tongue is Afrikaans, but I have near-native fluency in English as well. I also speak Dutch relatively well; German somewhat less although conversations are not too difficult. I have also learned some French at university, but it's quite rusty. In high school I have also learned some Xhosa, which is the mother tongue of the late great Nelson Mandela and the second most spoken mother tongue language in South Africa, after Zulu. It has been a while though and I intend to brush up my conversational skills at some point in the near future.
I have always been interested in languages: how to learn them, how they differ, how they are the same, how they are structured, how they can be used and misused, what statistics tell us about them, how politics treat them and those who speak them, as well as all the various interaction between them and our minds.
Since around 2004 or so I have seen how powerful and interesting the interface between language and computing can be. Hence my interest in computational linguistics! More specifically, my interests expand to disciplines such as corpus linguistics, lexicography, machine translation, manual and automatic bitext alignment, digitisation, syntactic parsing, and automated or semi-automated lexical database construction (especially wordnets).
The fact remains that most languages are regarded as under-resourced, especially in the digital domain. Most languages of the eleven official languages in South Africa would be classified as such. There is enough reason to believe that the digital growth of a language can have a positive effect on the economic growth of its language communities, which in turn may lead to greater prosperity for the country in general. I hope that my work on building and researching language resources and technologies will at least make a tiny contribution to this noble cause.
Other personal interests
- Playing around with software (natural language processing, operating systems, games mods, etc.)
- Keeping up on current events, especially in the world of science. Not only popular sources such as IFLScience, but also well moderated communities where actual experts weigh in such as AskScience on Reddit.
- Following research, opinion pieces and debates on the impact of human activities on the progression of the human race and the preservation of our biosphere, specifically the impact of politics, religion and economy.
- Following social media (often out of morbid curiosity)
- Sports, mostly tennis and cricket. Mostly watching, mostly not playing (aiming to do more of that).
- Video games (RPGs / adventure, shooters, strategy and some sports (especially a nice little game called Tennis Elbow)). I also like to support indie projects and not just the big companies. Apart from the obvious enjoyment to be gained, there is some interesting work being done on investigating the various positive effects of playing video games. Gaming (so-called "games with a purpose") is also being applied in my field as a means of crowdsourcing while having fun doing so. See, for example, the Wordrobe project.
- Reading fiction, especially science fiction and fantasy. (Planning to list some examples at some point.)
- Creative and argumentative writing.
- Playing online chess (feel free to challenge me!).
- I tend towards listening to downtempo electronic music, although taste may vary widely. Once in a while I like to fool around with music software, such as Ejay. I played classical piano up until my last year in high school.
- Playing tennis.
- Watching tennis, cricket and rugby.
- Working out (again, keen to get back on track).
- Traveling and visiting beautiful and exciting places in the outdoors.
- Socialising and keeping in touch with friends and colleagues.