Rising Voices note: This article is republished here as a collaboration with Indigenous Tweets. Read the original post here.
The Indigenous Tweets project is still going strong, and the number of languages we're tracking on Twitter continues to grow - we added the 138th and 139th languages (Inari and South Saami) to the site a couple of weeks ago. Last week, the team at Twitter was nice enough to feature Indigenous Tweets on their “Twitter Stories” site; you can read that piece here.
Multi-Lingual Facebook Interface
Since January, I've spent a lot of time working on another project aimed at encouraging indigenous language groups to use their languages in social media. What we're trying to do is produce translations of Facebook's interface (the menus, navigation, etc.) into as many languages as possible.
You may be aware that Facebook has a nice system in place that allows volunteers to translate the site into about 100 different languages, including a number of languages that we care about here, like Irish, Cherokee, Northern Sámi, and Aymara. This is about the same as the number of language teams currently translating Mozilla Firefox (105) and somewhat less than the number of languages the Google search interface is available in (150).
No Options for New Languages
The trouble is, neither Facebook nor Google has added any new languages to their translation systems for quite a while. In the case of Google, this is stated explicitly in their translation FAQ:
“Right now, we're unable to support more languages in GIYL”.
We haven't been able to reach anyone at Facebook about this, but we've heard second-hand that they have had problems with spam translations and poor quality from some of the smaller translation teams. Whatever the reason, there are hundreds of language groups out there actively using Facebook to communicate in their language, but who are forced to use the site in English, Spanish, etc. This flies in the face of Facebook's stated aim to “make Facebook available in every language across the world”.
Via Charles Tiayon