Not only is the Cherokee Syllabary available on the iPod and iPhone, it’s now available as an interface language on Google.? Anyone who can read and write Cherokee can freely search the web in their chosen language.
“I believe that efforts like those of Google are essential to keeping our language alive,” said Cherokee Nation Principal Chief Chad Smith in a press release. “We have been working hard to get our young people interested in learning our Native tongue but we cannot be successful unless they can read and write in the medium of their era–all the digital devices that are currently so popular.”
Google employees and Cherokee Nation translators worked together to translate the 85 character syllabary created in the early 1800s by Sequoyah.
“Translators from Cherokee Nation were eager to volunteer to help make this project a reality, including Cherokee speaking staff, community members and youth,” said Cherokee Nation Language Technologist Joseph Erb. “We now have the power and knowledge of the Internet accessible in our own language.”
According to the Official Google Blog, this is the company’s contribution to preserving endangered languages. Google search is now available in 146 interface languages, and that list keeps growing. Google has also created an on-screen Cherokee keyboard making it easier to search in Cherokee without an actual Cherokee keyboard.
“Our user research has shown that many people are more comfortable formulating search queries in their own language but have difficulty typing these queries into Google,” states the Google Blog on “Integrating virtual keyboards in Google search.”
This milestone is just another in a list of language preservation accomplishments for the Cherokee Nation over the last 10 years. The nation started with offering free language classes, a youth choir that sings in Cherokee, student language bowl competitions, a Cherokee degree program at Northeastern State University and a language immersion school.
To get your endangered language supported by Google visit the Google in Your Language website.