December 20, 2010

Apple apps for British Columbia's languages

Aboriginal apps give old languages modern edge

By Judith LavoieSome of British Columbia's ancient languages are getting an ultra-modern boost in the hopes that cool technology will appeal to young aboriginal people.

New language apps for Apple's iPod, iPad and iPhone devices have been developed for two native languages in the province: Sencoten, spoken on southern Vancouver Island; and Halq'emeylem, spoken in the Fraser Valley.

Six more communities are using archives of recorded words and phrases to build mobile audio dictionaries with funding help from the province.

"Young people today are distracted by a lot of technology. They want to text, be on the web and play games," says Peter Brand, co-ordinator of FirstVoices, which helped develop the apps. "And so we knew that, if we had any hope of keeping the language in front of them, it had to be presented in these ways."

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