On average, a different language goes extinct every 14 days. And of the 7,000 languages currently spoken around the world, more than 3,000 are in danger of disappearing, along with the rich cultures they represent.
“Thanks to a collaboration with our global partners, ranging from language communities to national language institutes, users can now discover the Mayan, Tepehua, Sanskrit, Vurës, Kumeyaay/Digueño, Potawatomi and Serravallese languages spoken throughout Mexico, the South Asia, the South Pacific, the United States and Italy”, points out the technology company.
Built with Google Translate and Cloud Vision, the tool uses machine learning and image recognition to translate photos of objects into indigenous languages in real time. If multiple objects are detected in a photo, users can scroll and select the translation based on each object.
As well as being able to translate, Woolaroo has also been designed to encourage people and communities to contribute new words and audio recordings to help with pronunciation.
Justin Neely of the Potawatomi Tribe is using the web app to promote and preserve the Potawatomi language among students and youth.
“Words, phrases, and verb conjugations show how the Potawatomi see the world, with an emphasis on connection to the land, a great respect for Mother Nature and living things, and a communal lifestyle,” says Neely.
How is Woolarro used?
The app is relatively easy to use, and the interface closely resembles Google’s Lens. The first thing you have to do is go to the web app link and select the language you speak and the one you want to discover.
I have been exploring the web app, Woolaroo, a Google Arts & Culture project that seeks to help preserve endangered indigenous languages. The app has just included the Tepehua and the Maya in its catalog. pic.twitter.com/yE77jw2GOF
– Eréndira RL (@eresinaeresina) July 1, 2022
After selecting to have this step, it will ask you for permission to use your camera, since the idea is that you focus on an element to make the translation into the language you want to know. In my case I decided to use a translation from Spanish to Mayan and selected a plant that he recognized as a tree and translated into Mayan as Che’. In addition to putting the word in writing, it is possible to listen to the pronunciation.