Cherokee Nation Language Program Manager Roy Boney writes “Hello everyone!” using the Cherokee keyboard on a Nexus 6 device.
Cherokee translators honored Monday for latest technology feat
TAHLEQUAH, OKLAHOMA — The Cherokee language is now available for download on more than 20 Android devices, making the language even more accessible to millions of Google smartphone and tablet users.
The Cherokee Nation’s Language Program department spent nearly two years working with Google to translate more than 50,000 technology terms into Cherokee. The team developed syllabary font to use on Android, Samsung Galaxy S6, Motorola Moto X and Google Nexus 6, among other devices.
Principal Chief Bill John Baker and the Tribal Council honored the department’s 13 full-time translation specialists for the milestone during May’s Tribal Council meeting Monday.
“Cherokees have always been early adopters of adapting our native language onto the newest device of the time, from one of the first printing presses to manual typewriters and now the Android,” Chief Baker said. “It’s important that tribes preserve and share our language because it’s our identity, such a big part of who we are.”
It’s Google’s intent to support all world languages, including Cherokee syllabary, as fonts on their devices so Cherokee speakers can use their language in email, searches and texts, said Craig Cornelius, software engineer for Google Internationalization in California.
“For more than four years, translators from the Cherokee Nation and the Google Internationalization team have collaborated on Cherokee language support in Google Search, Gmail, Chromebooks and now Android,” Cornelius said. “Cherokee visitors to the Googleplex headquarters have enhanced engineers’ understanding of language change, and Cherokee speakers are now able to use the latest technologies in their daily lives.”
The partnership between the Cherokee Nation and Google is also mentioned in the new book “Work Rules!” by Google’s head of People Operations, Laszlo Bock.
Cherokee Nation Language Program staff began work on the Cherokee font, Noto Sans Cherokee in 2012 for web browsers. Testing to move the font to Android mobile devices began in the spring of 2013, became first available in November 2014 on the Nexus 9 tablet, and rolled out over the past few months on other Google devices.
“With Android devices being used by millions of people around the world, this firmly places the Cherokee language in a league with all the other major languages of the world,” said Cherokee Nation Language Program Manager Roy Boney. “I’m proud of our speakers, the tribe and Google for seeing this latest language technology accomplishment come to fruition.”
To get the Cherokee language on an Android device, the operating system 5.0 Lollipop update is required. To download the update, go to the device setting and check for system update. Add a Cherokee language keyboard by downloading the free MultiLing app and Cherokee plugin from the Google Play store.
The Cherokee Nation also has the Cherokee language on Apple and Microsoft products.