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(Many Paths)
An Online Newsletter Celebrating Native America
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Cherokee Language Added To Google
by Mary L. Crider
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As of Friday, Google added the Cherokee Syllabary, the written language, to its searchable languages, according to a Cherokee Nation news release and Google's official blog.

The language becomes one of the search engine's 146 interface languages.

The effort was a collaborative one between tribal translators and Google employees, the news release states.

"I believe that efforts like those of Google are essential to keeping our language alive. 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," Principal Chief Chad Smith said.

Sequoyah created the 85-character syllabary in the early 1800s. Some of its characters resemble Greek and Latin letters.

According to the news release, it quickly made most Cherokees literate and was adapted into the first American Indian newspaper, the Cherokee Phoenix, which was written in both Cherokee and English.

According to the Google blog, Cherokee speakers may select Cherokee as their default language by clicking on the Language Tools page link to the right of the Google search box.

Scroll down to the language interface list and click on Cherokee.

That brings up a Cherokee language search page.

Then click on the icon on the right, inside the search box to open an on-screen Cherokee keyboard.

The virtual keyboard allows Cherokee language speakers to search web content in Cherokee without a physical Cherokee language keyboard.

The user can click on the virtual keyboard and drag it to a convenient spot on the search page.

According to the tribe, in the past decade the Cherokee Nation has sought to keep its language vital.

It started by offering free language classes, as well as a youth choir that sings in Cherokee, student language bowl competitions and a Cherokee degree program at Northeastern State University.

Its language immersion school has grown every year and now includes students up to the fifth grade, according to the news release.

Cherokee language technologist Joseph Erb noted that Cherokee speakers now have the power and knowledge of the Internet accessible in their language.


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