Photo: Google Earth

Listen and Discover Indigenous Languages on Google Earth’s New Platform

News Languages
by Eben Diskin Aug 16, 2019

To showcase the linguistic diversity of the world we live in, Google Earth has launched a new feature that will keep language learners and world travelers happy for hours. A new interactive platform on its Voyager feature allows users to listen to audio recordings of 55 Indigenous languages, as voiced by a native speaker, around the world. The project, called Celebrating Indigenous Languages, also provides information on activists pioneering new ways to preserve native languages.

To use it, all you have to do is click on a placemark and you’ll hear someone speaking the Indigenous language and a translation of what they’re saying will be typed out. Speakers were recorded giving greetings and responding to questions like “What is your favorite proverb in your language?” and “Can you share a traditional song in your language?”

In Rapa Nui te reo, the traditional language of Rapa Nui, also known as Easter Island, we learn that “Hello” is said “Iorana” and that in the Northern Sámi language of Arctic Europe, there’s a famous idiom that says, “Moving around is a better way of life than just being still.” From Quechua in Peru to Cherokee in Oklahoma to Kuvi in northwestern India, you can learn a lot about the communities featured by just listening to a few sentences in their traditional tongues.

Out of the 7,000 languages spoken in the world, 2,680 Indigenous languages are at risk of disappearing, UNESCO explained. Furthermore, the United Nations has declared 2019 the “Year of Indigenous Languages.”

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