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Dr Deny Arnos Kwary: Obituary, June 2019

Colleagues at Oxford University Press are enormously saddened to hear of the sudden passing away of Dr Deny Arnos Kwary in June this year. We would like to express our deepest condolences and sympathy to Dr Kwary’s family and friends.

Alongside a distinguished career as an academic, most recently as lecturer at the Department of English of Airlangga University, in Surabaya, Indonesia, Dr Deny Arnos Kwary was intimately involved in the Oxford Global Languages programme. Launched in 2015, Oxford Global Languages is a programme to develop and bring online language resources for the world’s languages, focusing on languages that are digitally under-resourced in their communities. From the outset, Dr Kwary was a powerful advocate for the programme, attending the inaugural summit, and becoming the Language Manager for the Indonesian dictionary website in May 2016 when the site was launched.

Dr Kwary embodied the principles of OGL, and represented and developed the resources for Indonesian with passion, fierce intelligence, and creativity. As a natural teacher, he was particularly creative in engaging the communities of Indonesian speakers, engaging and educating students at universities around Indonesia in the process of adding new vocabulary and dictionary translations for their mother tongue. In fact, Dr Kwary inspired the group of Language Managers in other languages by pioneering the ‘live’ events, where entries were added online in real time direct into the dictionary website. He conducted at least a dozen of these events including the most successful one to date: the Bilingual Vocabulary Challenge on Information Technology. This event, on 2nd November 2016 at the University of Trunojoyo Madura, generated over 1,600 words in a single day. Over the years working as Language Manager, on top of his demanding university research and teaching role, he impacted the lives of thousands of students, giving them the confidence and sense of pride in their language that is at the heart of the Oxford Global Languages mission, and inspiring users to contribute a total of over 12,500 new words. Truly, OGL would not have had the same success, particularly in driving community engagement, without Dr Kwary’s unique contribution.

But Dr Kwary not only worked with communities in his native country. He was also a dictionary expert himself and worked with Oxford’s lexicographers to further develop the content and help train freelance translators in dictionary practice. We are hugely grateful for all that he has done for OGL, and for his unfailing friendship and support. He took every opportunity to promote and spread the word about OGL whenever he presented his other university work at conferences or went to events as a delegate.

Many of us in the marketing team and in the editorial teams never met Dr Kwary directly. In today’s digital age, we used Skype, phone, and email. So it is a tribute to his personality that, despite the shortage of face-to-face contact, we felt we knew him personally as a friend, mentor, and colleague. We have received numerous expressions of sympathy and condolences, from other OGL Language Managers and Language Champions, from the editorial teams, and from the marketing teams. As Simone Bichara-Desecki, Oxford Global Languages Community Manager, puts it: “We may not have met Deny in person, but he was a well esteemed and extremely inspiring colleague to all of us.” We will all miss him and will remember his contribution to the OGL programme with gratitude and pride.

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