FirstVoices apps bring B.C. First Nations languages to iPhone
People wanting to learn First Nations languages can now download resources onto their iPhone or iPod Touch.
The First Peoples’ Heritage, Language and Culture Council launched today (December 15) two free FirstVoices mobile applications—one for the Halq’eméylem language of the Sto:lo Nation in the Fraser Valley, and the other for SENĆOŦEN, which is spoken by First Nations on southern Vancouver Island.
Next, six more First Nations communities in B.C. will be given the opportunity to create their own mobile language apps.
The apps, which are tied to the FirstVoices language-archiving website, offer dictionaries and phrase collections, along with audio recordings, images, and videos.
According to Tracey Herbert, the council’s executive director, the apps are aimed at First Nations youth and First Nations people living off-reserve.
“Youth are more likely to incorporate technology into their language learning, which is critical for the survival of our languages,” Herbert said in a press release. “It can also be a challenge for off-reserve First Nations to learn their languages without direct access to fluent Elders or language programs. This app will make language more accessible to both groups.”
The council, which is a provincial Crown corporation, developed the apps with funding from its sister organization, the First Peoples’ Cultural Foundation.
It hopes to optimize the apps for the iPad in the future.
“Based on three variables for measuring language endangerment (speakers, usage and language resources), all of B.C. First Nations languages are severely endangered or nearly extinct,” the Report on the Status of B.C. First Nations Languages 2010 states. “Some are already sleeping.”
The report notes that Halq’eméylem, with only 278 fluent speakers, is “severely endangered”.
SENĆOŦEN is classified as “nearly extinct”, with just 60 fluent speakers.
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