Frequently used terms


The following are words or terms that may be used frequently as you work with the FirstVoices platform, and explanations of what they mean.


General terms

  • Form: A form is a page with multiple boxes, fields, to fill out.

  • Field: A field are boxes to fill out on a form.


  • Font: A font is what tells a computer how a text character should look on the screen. Different fonts can make letters and other characters have different shapes or designs. If a font does not include a special character, then an empty box may be shown instead. Some fonts designed especially for displaying characters in First Nations languages include BC Sans or Aboriginal Sans/Serif.

  • Keyboard: A keyboard is a piece of hardware with keys to transmit characters to the computer when you type. Virtual keyboards are programs which reorganize the characters that are sent to your other computer programs, allowing you to type different characters than originally designed (including special characters).


File storage terms

  • Cloud storage: Cloud storage is digital file storage system where data is stored on remote servers and accessed by users from afar via the internet (or "cloud.”) The physical servers that host the files could be local – if your workplace owns a local server that is accessible by staff members, the server may be in your office. Alternatively, if you pay a company for cloud storage, the physical servers may be located in that company’s buildings in Toronto. However, no matter where the physical servers are, you will always be able to access your files via the internet instead of having to plug directly into the server itself.

  • Checksums: A checksum is a string of data that is attached to a file to help detect the presence of errors introduced in storage or transfer between devices; different software programs can detect checksums to determine if there is corruption in the file (e.g. data integrity).

  • Data corruption/degradation or Bit rot: The process of decay and general changes to files as a result of slowly accruing errors/issues that eventually make some materials unusable.

  • Embed: To attach or add information or a tag to a file.

  • Filename extension: A filename extension is the ending of a file’s name that identifies what type of file it is and/or what computer program can open it. Some common filename extensions are:

    • Images: .jpg, .png, .gif

    • Audio: .wav, .mp3

    • Compressed files: .zip

    • Video: .mp4, .m4v, .mov

    • Spreadsheets: .xls, .ods

    • Text documents: .doc, .odt, .pdf

  • Geo-redundancy: Geo-redundancy refers to having multiple storage spaces in which your data/files are stored, and having those storage spaces be physically located in different locations. An example of this would be having a physical hard drive which you back up your files onto, as well as cloud storage that you back up your files onto as well. Your hard drive could be kept in your office, whereas the cloud storage servers may be in an office in a different city. The reason for having multiple storage spaces in different locations is to protect against theft, natural disaster and viruses/technological failure.


Copyright-related terms

  • Copyright: Media that is legally owned, used and distributed exclusively by the creator of the original work.

  • License: A license is a set of specific terms from the creator or copyright holder about how others are able to use (or not use) the work.

  • Public domain / copyright free: Media that was previously copyrighted, but the copyright has expired and thus the media is no longer copyrighted.

  • Royalty free: Media that has a copyright but the owner has given permission for others to use the material without paying any royalties or fees.

  • Creative commons: A license that allows creators to allow others to use, remix and/or distribute their work while still reserving ownership rights.

  • Own source: Media that you yourself have created and own, therefore you do not require to provide credit or royalties to anyone else.


FirstVoices terms

  • Member: A member is a FirstVoices user with a login, who has received a Language Administrator’s approval to join a FirstVoices language site. They can view "Members Only" content on that site, but cannot edit anything.

  • Language Administrator: The Language Administrator is the leader of a FirstVoices team and is responsible for administering the language site. They have access to all language team features on FirstVoices and design and maintain all features of the language site. They are able to supervise all other team members and approve membership on the site.

  • Recorder: Recorders are members of FirstVoices teams responsible for creating language site content. They have the ability to privately create and edit words, phrases, and other language content, as well as create draft changes for review by other team members.

  • Recorder with Approval: Recorders with Approval are members of FirstVoices teams responsible for creating language site content. They have the ability to create and edit words, phrases, and other language content, and can also change their visibility and delete them. They are able to supervise Recorders and approve their draft changes.

  • Visibility: Visibility refers to who can see a language entry like a word or song. The different levels are:

    • “Team Only”: visible only to the language site team (also “New” or “Disabled”)

    • “Members Only”: visible to logged-in and approved site members (also “Enabled”)

    • “Public (Published)”: visible to anyone

  • Draft: A draft is a private copy of a word or phrase which can be created by a Recorder and edited with suggested changes. It is only visible to the language team. Once the draft is applied to the original entry, the changes are made on the entry and the draft disappears.

  • Published: When a language entry (a word, phrase, song or story) is published on FirstVoices, it becomes visible to public, which means anyone who visits the language site (with or without an account) can view the entry.

  • Alphabet: A FirstVoices alphabet is a customizable alphabet that can have any required special characters or multi-character letters required to write in the writing system for each language site. All words and phrases on the site are alphabetized based on the custom alphabet.


Audio-related terms

  • Master file: The master file is the untouched, raw audio file that includes an entire unedited audio recording. You always export a copy of the master file before editing, in order to ensure you keep an unedited, complete version of your original recording.

  • Audacity project file: The Audacity project file is the .aup file that is generated when you save your audio in the audio editing program Audacity. Note that this is not the same thing as exporting your files, as a .aup is saved to be able to continue working on your audio in Audacity, and .aup files can not be opened in any other application. Audacity project files include two things:

    • 1. The .aup project file (i.e. language-recordings.aup)

    • 2. The _data folder with the same project name and in the same folder as the .aup file (i.e. language-recordings_data) that includes data related to your project.


NOTE: Never move, delete or rename any of the files or folders inside the _data folder. Always keep the AUP file and the _data folder together in the same directory (folder).


  • Word file: A word file is a short, individual file that come from within master files after you export your words or phrases. Word files will have a .wav filename extension.

  • Tracks: A single stream of recorded sound.

  • Stereo: Stereo refers to two audio tracks, one in each headphone/speaker.

  • Mono: Stereo refers to one audio track coming out of both headphones/speakers.

  • Labels: When you want to have separate word files (.wav) for each word or phrase, you can add labels to sections of the audio in your Audacity project file and give each word a file name before you export them as individual word files.

  • Lossless: A method of preserving the original data with no loss of information, relating to a uncompressed file.

  • Uncompressed: The description of a file that has not gone through any reductions in size, which causes it to lose data (e.g. go from 'lossless' to 'lossy').


Language-related terms

  • Dialect: A dialect is a variety of a language with unique characteristics such as vocabulary, pronunciations, sentence structures, or meanings for words. Speakers of two dialects of the same language can more or less understand one another despite these differences in their speech.

  • Language family: A language family is a group of languages that have come from the same common ancestor language, often over a long period of time.

  • Paradigm: A linguistic paradigm is a set of related word forms. An example of this would be a conjugation of a verb, such as “to be”: I am, you are, he/she/it is, etc.

  • Part of speech: A part of speech is a term that describes how to use a word in a sentence, such as noun or verb. Words with the same part of speech follow similar rules for how they can be used to build phrases and sentences. For example, a verb in English can be used in a context "he/she/it VERBs", while a noun in English can be used in a context "I like the NOUN". The rules for each part of speech are specific to the language.