Home LATEST NEWS HIGH TECH A Facebook interface now available in Inuktitut

A Facebook interface now available in Inuktitut

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Meta worked with Nunavut Tunngavik (NTI), the organization representing the Inuit of Nunavut, to initiate the translation of the interface.

It is a very important step to give a place to Inuktut on social networkssays the president of NTIAluki Kotierk. It sends the message that our language is as important and valid as the other languages ​​available on this social media giant.

Inuktut, which includes several dialects, including Inuktitut and Inuinnaqtun, in 2016 had approximately 40,000 speakers spread across the four Inuit regions of northern Canada. Terminologies from several regions were used, namely those of southern and northern Baffin Island, as well as that of the Kivalliq region in central Nunavut.

Aluki Kotierk believes that the interface now enables bilingual Inuit toactively choose to browse the website in their native language. She even thinks it could motivate unilingual seniors to join the social network.

Aluki Kotierk in front of a street in Iqaluit.

Nunavut Tunngavik (NTI) president Aluki Kotierk has been working with Meta since 2017 to help the social network “find ways to better serve Inuit.”

Photo: CBC/Kieran Oudshoorn

Inuktitut is the second dialect of the Inuit language to appear on the Facebook interface. Since 2018, Inupiaq, mostly spoken in northern Alaska, has been added to the social network’s language choices just as other indigenous languages ​​have since been.

It’s only the beginningbelieves Aluki Kotierk, adding that she hopes to see other dialects of the Inuit language carve out a place there one day.

The interface is offered exclusively to users who consult the site on a computer, but Aluki Kotierk believes that the next step will be to make it accessible on mobile devices.

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It is also the Latin alphabet, rather than the syllabic script, which is used to display news feeds, settings and user profiles in Inuktitut.

A computer screen showing a Facebook interface page in Inuktitut.

A page showing the Facebook interface in Inuktitut.

Photo: Photo courtesy of Megan Schumacher/Meta

Several thousand words translated

The Pirurvik Center in Iqaluit, which offers Inuktut classes, was commissioned to do the translation. A job that was sometimes complex, explains translator Jeela Palluq Cloutier.

“, she explains. “In Inuktut, words written in the Roman alphabet can be very long. Sometimes we had a really good word, but too many characters to fit in the space we had.”,”text”:”Most of the challenges were related to space,” she explains. “In Inuktut, words written in the Roman alphabet can be very long. Sometimes we had a really good word, but too many characters to fit in the space we had.”}}”>Most of the challenges were related to space,” she explains. “In Inuktut, words written in the Roman alphabet can be very long. Sometimes we had a really good word, but too many characters to fit in the space we had.

Other terms, she says, had no equivalent in Inuktitut, which led her to wonder about the context in which it would be used.

It’s great fun to use traditional terminology in modern technology. »

A quote from Jeela Palluq Cloutier, translator

In a context where the Inuit language is declining in favor of English, Jeela Palluq Cloutier believes that the interface will make it possible for those who wish to learn it or simply reinforce it.

Front of the Pirurvik Centre.

The Pirurvik Center offers courses in Inuktut, the Inuit language, in Iqaluit.

Photo: Provided by the Pirurvik Center

The project was supposed to see the light of day in 2019, but its finalization took longer than expected. In 2018, Facebook invited Inuktitut speakers to use the Let’s Translate Facebook app and submit translations of words and phrases to compose the future interface. The most popular translation was retained as the official translation.

However, we wanted to make sure that what appeared on our platform would reflect the language that is most commonly used by Inuit, so [le Centre] Pirurvik […] was asked to orchestrate this pilot project and the translation processspecifies the manager of indigenous policies for Meta, Debbie Reid, by email.

More and more companies are translating into Indigenous languages, as the International Decade of Indigenous Languages ​​begins in 2022. Over the past year and a half, Microsoft has added Inuktitut and Inuinnaqtun to its translation app, which includes over 100 languages.

Inuktut is the mother tongue of fewer and fewer Inuit in Nunavut. In 2016, the last Statistics Canada census noted that it was for 65% of the population, compared to 72% in 2001.

With information from Teresa Qiatsuq and Cindy Alorut

HERE Far North

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