Mobile Apps, Crowdsourcing Aim to Save Dying Language

While the masses are hurling birds towards pigs on the the planet Hoth, a small minority in the country of Australia is in danger of losing their language. Lucky for them, a new mobile app has been launched with the aim of saving their Aboriginal language. Here’s with this amazing story:

Its creators say the The Ma! Iwaidja free mobile phone app is the first phone app for an Australian indigenous language and aims to prevent the extinction of the Iwaidja language — one of Australia’s 100 endangered languages. It is spoken by less than 200 people on Croker Island, off the coast of the Northern Territory of Australia.

The app contains a 1,500-entry Iwaidja-English dictionary and a 450-entry phrase book that users can update.

“There has been an enthusiastic uptake of mobile phone technology in indigenous communities in Australia, so the idea is to capitalize on that,” says linguist Bruce Birch, coordinator of the Minjilang Endangered Languages Publication project, which developed the app.

“People have their phones with them most of the time, the app is incredibly easy to use, and this allows data collection to happen spontaneously, opportunistically,” he says.

The school on Croker island has eight iPads with the app installed and the island’s community store sells smartphones.

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