Google Announces Woolaroo, App to Preserve Indigenous Languages


Google: On Wednesday (5th), Google announced Woolaroo, a tool for the translation and preservation of indigenous languages. The tool is free and uses the Cloud Vision API, allowing people to point the camera at an object and receive information about what it is called in a native language.

Yugambeh was the app’s first language. Spoken by an Aboriginal people in Australia, it is in danger of disappearing. Furthermore, the creation of new technological products was not reflected in the vocabulary of yugambeh, making natural terms for us not to exist for them.

The word “refrigerator”, for example, is called by them by something like “cold place”. “Phones” are called “voice launchers” and shoes are called “toes”.

“Today’s technology can help provide an educational and interactive way to promote language learning and preservation. I am particularly proud that Yugambeh is the first Australian Aboriginal language to be presented at Woolaroo, ”said Rory O’Connor, CEO of the Yugambeh Museum.

The tool

According to Google, historians and people who preserve indigenous cultures around the world can add word lists and audio recording (to help with pronunciation) on Woolaroo.

The tool currently supports 10 global languages: Louisiana’s Creole; the Greek from Calabria; the Maori; nawat (pipil); the tamazight; the Sicilian; the yang zhuang; rapa nui and yiddish, as well as yugambeh.

“Any of these languages ​​is an important aspect of a community’s cultural heritage. Crucial to indigenous communities is that Woolaroo puts the power to add, edit and delete entries completely in their hands, ”said O’Connor.

The application was developed for mobile phones by Google Arts & Culture, an arm of the technology giant that takes care of the dissemination and preservation of artistic and cultural pieces from around the world. For now, indigenous languages ​​are only available to be translated into English, French and Spanish.


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