Technology group creates Google Maps in Cherokee
By TESINA JACKSON Reporter TAHLEQUAH, Okla.— After translating English words into Cherokee for many projects in the past few years, the Cherokee Nation language technology group decided to use those translations by creating Google Maps using the Cherokee syllabary. “Other projects that we’ve done we’ve had to do a lot of countries and we figured that one of the reasons we wanted to do this is because we were doing so many different localizations for different projects and we were ending up with a large database of country names,” said Joseph Erb, language technologist. “We wanted to figure out a way to actually put this out there where people could see it and look at things and we wouldn’t just have the data on a couple of computers somewhere. We could actually put it out and the community could go to it and find out different names for things or see a map in the language.” Creating a map on Google Maps allowed the language technology group to add places and points of interests and even upload videos providing information on that location in Cherokee. Cherokee is one of the many languages that Google supports. “It actually utilizes the technology that Google does with their mapping but it also allows us to actually put in our language so that we can add a new site to a certain place and put a little bit of background into it,” Erb said. “So this has been really beneficial so we can do it for our kids so they can see local places and have it be described in Cherokee.” Currently the program is in the testing stages and is being used by the students and teachers at the CN Immersion School to see if they’re able to navigate it. “As of now we’re just trying to put in all the information we have geographically so that we’ll have a spot that will help the immersion kids and staff have access to the material that we already have translated. This was a really easy site for us to utilize for that type of information,” Erb said. So far the language technology group has created Google Maps in Cherokee of local places around Tahlequah and of different states. Plans are underway to expand the maps to include different countries, which will involve the translation of nearly 500 words. “Well we started putting in communities and we’re not completely done. We also put all the states in and we’re going to build this little map where you can put different countries and major spots around the world so that you can just navigate the whole map,” Erb said. The Google Maps in Cherokee are available for anybody to go online and use, he added. Anyone that has a Microsoft Windows Vista, personal computer, an Apple Mac computer, iPhone or iPad since 2003 has the capability to see the Cherokee syllabary displayed on their screens due to Unicode. Unicode allows people around the world to use computers in any language in all major operating systems, search engines, applications and the Web. “It’s really great because our language is now starting to work in almost all the technologies that are starting to be developed and the major computer companies, they use Unicode,” Erb said. Once the program is available to everyone it will continue to evolve and be ongoing as the language technology group adds more information to it. “So I think that it’s important that we actually start building our own maps in the language with people talking about it in the language because it actually starts to get a more Cherokee-centric viewpoint of the world in a very visual sense and a map is just that,” Erb said.Creating a map on Google Maps allowed the language technology group to add places and points of interests and even upload videos providing information on that location in the Cherokee language.
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