Translate Facebook app adds Inuktut on Nunavut Day

by Michele LeTourneau- July 9, 2018

Facebook in Inuktut? Yes, please.

The social media giant joined up with Nunavut Tunngavik Inc. (NTI) and Nunavut’s Inuit language authority Inuit Uqausinginnik Taiguusiliuqtiit (IUT) to launch the new translation app in time for Nunavut Day July 9.

Starting today, Inuktut speakers can contribute translation suggestions for the strings of words and phrases that make up the Facebook interface through the Translate Facebook app on desktop and mobile devices, according to the news release.

“When someone has offered a proposed translation, others in the community can vote the translation ‘up’ or ‘down.’ Once a translation has been voted up enough, it becomes the official proposed translation for that string,” stated Facebook.

“The launch of Facebook in Inuktut is slated for 2019, based on the volume of feedback received from the community.”

NTI president Aluki Kotierk welcomed the app.

“Facebook’s recognition of their role in the promotion and use of Inuktut is very much welcomed, particularly in Nunavut, where it is the public majority language. This is refreshing because Inuit in Nunavut use Facebook to connect,” stated Kotierk.

“We need all sectors to work together to create and expand spaces where we hear, speak and write Inuktut.”

Kevin Chan, head of public policy at Facebook Canada, stated the company has worked closely with Indigenous leaders across Canada to better understand how we can improve Facebook to better serve their communities.

“One key piece of feedback we’ve heard is the strong desire among Indigenous peoples to engage in their own languages on Facebook,’ he stated.

“Language is vital to connection and to building community, which is why we are excited to begin that process today with Inuktut.”

Facebook built the Translate Facebook app in 2007 to enable users to translate the Facebook interface into different languages, and it’s now available in more than 100 languages and is used by over one billion people in languages other than English, according to the release.

Facebook also recently added Inupiaq, an Alaskan Inuit dialect, as a language option thanks to a grassroots project started by Myles Creed of the Inupiaq community of Kotzebue, Alaska.

“IUT is very pleased to be partnering with NTI and Culture and Heritage along with the Facebook team to begin the process of translating Facebook to Inuktut. As we all know social media plays a big role in communications, especially among our young people. Providing an interface and allowing communications in our language is one of the ways we can encourage our people to use our language in all areas including the very widely used social media,” stated IUT chairperson Mary Thompson.

David Joanasie, the Nunavut minister responsible for languages, supported the initiative.

“This is a good example of a company playing a positive leadership role in promoting the use of Inuktut. I applaud this initiative which will help improve access to technologies for our unilingual Inuit elders and help them remain connected with their children and grandchildren living in other communities. It will help strengthen and normalize the use of Inuktut on social media by all Nunavummiut,” he said.

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