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Google in Hawaiian

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Date: Thursday, August 6, 2009
Contact: Alyson Kakugawa-Leong, (808) 974-7642

For Immediate Release

The University of Hawaiʻi at Hilo announces the development of a Hawaiian language interface for Google, the world’s most popular Internet search engine.

The translation project is part of the Google in Your Language program, which encourages advocates of minority and indigenous languages to translate several of Google’s products into their own languages. The translation was completed by Keola Donaghy, an assistant professor at Ka Haka ‘Ula O Ke‘elikōlani College of Hawaiian Language at UH Hilo.

“The addition of a Hawaiian language interface for Google is a tremendous development for Hawaiian speakers,” said Dr. Kalena Silva, director of Ka Haka ‘Ula O Ke‘elikōlani. "Google is the most heavily-used search engine on the Internet, and from a practical and a symbolic standpoint, this interface puts Hawaiian on par with the many other languages that Google currently supports.”

Searchers can select the Hawaiian language interface, see Google’s commands and navigational text in Hawaiian, and conduct searches in Hawaiian. Search results and Web pages found by Google are not translated into Hawaiian. Additional software is not required. Searchers simply select Hawaiian as their language preference on Google.

The Hawaiian language interface is currently visible only to users of Apple’s Safari Web browser who have selected ‘ōlelo Hawai‘i as their first language preference in their Macintosh OS X “International” preferences. The Hawaiian language interface will be available to users of other Web browsers soon.

“Google has become the primary source of the world's information and being able to source this information through the medium of the Hawaiian language indicates that the Hawaiian language has purpose and relevance in today's information society,” noted Te Taka Keegan, a lecturer at the University of Waikato in Aotearoa (New Zealand), indigenous language activist and part-time employee of Google. “It will undoubtedly give a sense of identity, pride, and promise for Hawaiian children (and parents) who are able to search and retrieve information through their indigenous language.”

The staff of Ka Haka ‘Ula O Ke‘elikōlani and its Hale Kuamo‘o Hawaiian Language Center have been the source of many technology innovations, which have benefited speakers of Hawaiian: the translation of Netscape's Navigator Web browser into Hawaiian in 1998; the inclusion of a Hawaiian language keyboard and other Hawaiian language resources in Macintosh OS X in 2002; and the continuous work with technology vendors to strengthen the ability of Hawaiian speakers to use the language with these technologies.

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