Microsoft adds Māori to translator as New Zealand pushes to revitalize the language

TechCrunch | 11/22/2019 | Staff
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The benefits of machine translation are easy to see and experience for ourselves, but those practical applications are only one part of what makes the technology valuable. Microsoft and the government of New Zealand are demonstrating the potential of translation tech to help preserve and hopefully breathe new life into the Māori language.

Te reo Māori, as it is called in full, is of course the language of New Zealand’s largest indigenous community. But as is common elsewhere as well, the tongue has fallen into obscurity as generations of Māori have assimilated into the dominant culture of their colonizers.

People - Percent - Population - Quarter - Language

Māori people make up about 15 percent of the population, and only a quarter of them speak the language, making for a grand total of 3 percent that speak te reo Māori. The country is hoping to reverse the trend by pushing Māori language education broadly and taking steps to keep it relevant.

Microsoft and New Zealand’s Te Taura Whiri i te Reo Māori, or Māori Language Commission, have been working together for years to make sure that the company’s software is inclusive of this vanishing language. The latest event in that partnership is the inclusion of Māori into Microsoft’s Translator service, meaning it can now be automatically translated into any of the other 60 supported languages and vice versa.

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That’s a strong force for inclusion and education, of course, since automatic translation tools are a great...
(Excerpt) Read more at: TechCrunch
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