Dictionary Apps for B.C. First Nations Languages Now Available on Android Devices

Brentwood Bay, B.C. – The First Peoples’ Cultural Council is excited to announce that its ground-breaking FirstVoices Dictionary Apps are now available for free download on all Android devices. The apps, which were initially launched in 2011, were previously available only on Apple iOS, due to the limited availability of First Nations language character sets in the Android operating system.

“For the past several years, we have been advocating with our contacts at Google to include the unique First Nations characters on Android devices,” said Tracey Herbert, CEO of the First Peoples’ Cultural Council. “We commend Google for including support for these new characters in its operating system, and by extension – the work of Indigenous people who want to use their mobile devices as a language-learning tool.”

The 13 FirstVoices Dictionary Apps are available in the following B.C. First Nations languages: Ehattesaht, Halq’eméylem, Hlg̲aagilda X̲aayda Kil (Skidegate Haida), Ktunaxa, Kwak̓wala, Nazko-Dakelh, Nisg̲a’a, Northern St̕’át̕’imcets, Secwepemc, SENĆOŦEN, Sliammon, Lı́l̓wat-Ucwalmı́cwts and Xeni Gwet’in.

The apps were developed as a mobile version of the language archives available at FirstVoices.com, where First Nations communities can upload words and phrases in their languages. They were built using open-source software and are not only the largest collection of open-source Indigenous language apps in the world, but the first to be available for both iOS and Android.

Each dictionary app uses customized, language-specific, “approximate-search” algorithms, which improve accessibility for learners and experts alike. For example, in the Nisg̲a’a language, the word for ‘story/legend/history’ is written adaawak̲. The Nisg̲a’a search algorithm has been built to anticipate a search for a word that does not include the special character, so it will still return the result for ‘‘adaawak̲’ even if a user searches for ‘adawak’.

For all iOS and Android dictionary apps, users can now also sort words and phrases by categories, bookmark items for later viewing and use the app to make flashcards to support language learning.

The FirstVoices Dictionary Apps were funded by the New Relationship Trust.

To download the new apps visit: http://www.firstvoices.com/en/apps

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