In an attempt to preserve the endangered Cherokee language, Google has added it as an interface option.
The addition, announced today, means Cherokee speakers can now make it their default language for searches, and help keep the language alive. Google also introduced an on-screen keyboard option. In practice, this means anyone who can read and write Cherokee can look up anything on Google. Users can change their language setting to Cherokee here.
Cherokee, an Iroquoian language, did not have a written form until the early 19th century, when it got a syllabary (a set of written symbols to represent syllables) writing system. The Cherokee Nation has about 300,000 members, though only about 20,000 people speak the Cherokee language.
“I believe that efforts like those of Google are essential to keeping our language alive,” Cherokee Nation Principal Chief Chad Smith said in a statement. “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.”
With this latest addition, Google now supports 146 interface languages and encourages users to sign up for Google in Your Language to make a case for interfaces in other endangered languages.
Google made similar additions of other North American native languages Maya and Nahuatl last year.