Friday, December 24, 2010

Computers As Humans Xmas Special: Apple Learns to Speak Cherokee

Computers As Humans is home for the holidays this week, up north where the trees are frosty in the mornings and the smell of wood burning fireplaces fills the air at night.

It's been a good year for Apple Computers with Steve Jobs having just been named Person of the Year by the "Financial Times" and been given a shout-out from President Obama (Do Presidents do shout-outs?). The iPad has outsold just about every other new device to be introduced on the tech market and Justin Long (the Mac in the Mac vs. PC commercials) was in three different movies this year.

Apple is capping off its spectacular year by teaching several of its devices to speak Cherokee. The Cupertino-based company was first approached by representatives of the Cherokee nation some three years ago. Tribal reps have actually paid visits to Apple headquarters and this fall they were successful in pleading their case that introducing Cherokee language software into Apple's mobile product platforms would go a long way toward helping to preserve the language and introduce it to a younger generation.

As of now it is estimated that only 8,000 members of the 290,000 Cherokee nation actually speak the language.

Apple has had Cherokee language supported through its operating system for laptops and desktops since 2003. This fall the company has taught the iPod and the iPhone to speak Cherokee and there are plans to introduce the language to the iPad in the coming months. Tribal educators believe that introducing the language to the smaller, mobile devices that are so popular with young people will help to keep the Cherokee language traditions alive.

Currently there are about 50 languages that are supported by Apple's mobile devices. Until now none of them have been Native American tribal languages so this innovation represents a significant coup for the Cherokee tribe.

Computers As Humans would like to applaud Steve Jobs and Apple for taking this step to help preserve endangered Native American languages and traditions.

Here's wishing you all a happy holiday season! Thanks for reading Computers As Humans.

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