Native Language iPhone Apps

Two new applications for Sencoten and Halq’emeylem are available for iPhones and iPads. Senconten, also called Saanich, is spoken on Vancouver Island by around 15 people, while Halq’emeylem, also called Halkomelem, is spoken by around 225 in Fraser Valley, both in British Columbia. They are part of the larger Salish language group, spoken in both Canada and the United States in the Pacific Northwest, perhaps the most widely heard of Native language family on the west Coast.

The apps are audio dictionaries, and from what I’ve seen, are pretty useful. They provide not only a definition, but also fairly good audio for each word, as well as a picture and sometimes a video, all of which can apparently be updated. The lexicon is limited to around 1000 each.

The apps were developed by working with the local communities, with lots of volunteer efforts and a grant of $30k from the First Peoples Cultural Foundation. Six more dictionaries are on the way, according to this news story. And the best part is that they are all free. Hopefully, some of these applications will be of use to Salish speakers in the US, as well.

Mathias adds: This is part of a general movement to get Natives speaking their languages in using iPhones and other technology; right before the new year the fact the Cherokee Nation of Oklahoma is working to ensure the Cherokee syllabary is supported on the iPhone, made top headlines. Many elders lament youths are are constantly playing with their phones; if only they could play around wit their phones and learn their languages at the same time. SAIVUS is currently working with fluent signers of PISL to bring PISL to the iPhone, including Blackfoot James Mountain Chief Sanderville (descendant of Richard Sanderville who was influential in preserving PISL in the 1930s).

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About The Author

Richard Littauer
I am a linguistics student interested in evolutionary linguistics, particularly involving Bayesian phylogenetics, typology, and computer simulations. I am also very interested in language endangerment, and what can be done to stop it. I joined SAIVUS to help out where I can, when I can.


6 Responses to “Native Language iPhone Apps”

  1. [...] Wopanaak Recent CommentsSAIVUS Blog » End of Ojibwe in Suttons Bay Public Schools, Minnesota? on Red Lake Ojibwa Language Preservation» Blog Archive » Ok! on Does ‘Okay’ Come from a Native Language?mathias on Lakota Teacher Needed in DenverTashna on Lakota Teacher Needed in DenverTashna on Native Language iPhone AppsArchives [...]

  2. [...] Salish mobile app Mobile statistics Share this:TwitterFacebookLike this:LikeBe the first to like this [...]

  3. I been testing this app and it works fine , I am loving it.

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  5. Thanks for helping out, wonderful info.

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