Gmail Adds 57th Language: Cherokee
Google, the all-inclusive and ubiquitous internet entity, is a many-headed hydra: Search with Google, sheck your mail with Gmail, socialize with Google Plus, and make the trains run on time with Google calendar. Although in terms of raw numbers Microsoft's Hotmail has the most users, there is plenty of anecdotal evidence to suggest that Gmail has far more active users.
In the quest to be everything to everyone, Google has added the Cherokee language to Gmail's capabilities. In the Official Gmail Blog entry announcing the new option, Craig Cornelius writes of a fateful journey:
It was just coincidence that I, a Google engineer working on the internationalization of Google products, ended up carpooling back to San Francisco with Vance Blackfox, member of the Cherokee Nation (CN) from an event we’d both attended. But that coincidence kick-started a collaboration that would result in Google Web Search in Cherokee and, starting today, Gmail in Cherokee. ... Vance connected me with the language technology department at the Cherokee Nation, and the Gmail team worked closely with their highly organized team of volunteers, which ranged from university students to Durbin Feeling--Cherokee living treasure and author of the Cherokee-English Dictionary. Together, we were able to find and implement the right words for hundreds of Gmail terms, from "inbox" (ᎧᏁᏌᎢᏱ) and “sign in” (ᏕᏣᏙᎥ ᎰᏪᎸᎦ) to “spam” (ᎤᏲᎢ).
The post also quotes Joseph Erb, Language Technologist at the Cherokee Nation: “Projects like these give more life to our language in our communities. It is not just about preserving our language and culture. It is about using our language each day and every day and continuing who we are as a people. And this give us that chance each time we check our email.”
On his facebook page, Erb expressed relief about finally being able to publicize the project, which had been kept secret until Google's announcement. Erb also posted an image of his Gmail interface as seen on his iPhone screen: