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Gmail's 57th Language: Cherokee Gmail's 57th Language: Cherokee

Gmail's 57th Language: Cherokee

by Dave Burdick
November 24, 2012

From the Gmail blog, here's a pretty interesting development: The popular email app's 57th language is Cherokee.

After a 2002 survey of the Oklahoma Cherokee population found that no one under 40 spoke conversational Cherokee, the Cherokee Nation saw an opportunity to use technology to encourage everyday use of the language among the younger generation. Vance connected me with the language technology department at the Cherokee Nation, and the Gmail team worked closely with their highly organized team of volunteers, which ranged from university students to Durbin Feeling--Cherokee living treasure and author of the Cherokee-English Dictionary. Together, we were able to find and implement the right words for hundreds of Gmail terms, from "inbox" (ᎧᏁᏌᎢᏱ) and “sign in” (ᏕᏣᏙᎥ ᎰᏪᎸᎦ) to “spam” (ᎤᏲᎢ).

It's a clever, modern approach to a big, cultural problem—if the younger generation decides to use email, that is. (Anybody know what the Cherokee is for FML?)

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