TAHLEQUAH, Okla. — The Cherokee Nation finished its largest translation project to date, adding the Cherokee language to Microsoft Office Web Apps.
Starting this week, people can use Office Web Apps, which include Word, Excel, PowerPoint and OneNote in the Cherokee language. The public can create a free account at www.skydrive.com to access the programs on any computer or mobile device.
“One of my sworn duties as principal chief is to protect the Cherokee Nation’s culture, history and identity. This relationship with Microsoft is another shining example of the critical work we do to preserve our traditional language,” Cherokee Nation Principal Chief Bill John Baker said. “Statistics show that half of the world’s 6,000 languages will be lost by the next century if nothing is done to preserve them. That will not be the fate of the Cherokee language, thanks in part to the hard work and collaboration between our tribal government and Microsoft.”
The Cherokee Nation is among the few tribes with a language immersion school and may be the only to have a designated language translation department working with the largest technology companies to include tribal languages on their latest products. Microsoft Web Apps offers 106 different language options.
“We are delighted to make Office Web Apps available in the Cherokee language,” said James Douglas, general manager of Microsoft Office Localization. “It is a milestone for Microsoft to provide the first U.S. Native American language productivity software. The Cherokee Nation is a testament to indigenous communities everywhere in proving that together we are able to have a big impact through our language efforts.”
The Cherokee language dates back centuries, long before Sequoyah adopted a Cherokee writing system in 1821. Many computing terms did not previously exist in the Cherokee language, so a dozen Cherokee speakers spent last year translating 150,000 modern English terms into their Cherokee equivalents.
At times, the translation project required creativity. For example, fluent speaker John Ross translated ‘antispyware’ into ‘it will be stopped’ and had to find the right phrases for other words, such as bookmark, email and antivirus, in the Cherokee language. Such phrases are necessary with singular words because Cherokee is a polysynthetic language, using many descriptions.
“It required our team to conduct many hours of research and come to a consensus on the best way to say these things in our language. It’s all worth it knowing that we continue to share Cherokee with more people across the world,” Ross said.
Cherokee is also available on Microsoft Windows 8, Google Gmail, and Apple iPhone and iPad. The translation team’s next project is adding Cherokee to the Android.
– Cherokee Nation