A Facebook interface now available in Inuktitut


A facebook interface Facebook now available in Inuktitut

An interface translated into Inuktitut, a dialect of the Inuit language , appeared on Facebook. It has been accessible since Friday on computers.

It is now possible to put a “piugijara” instead of a “like” on posts on Facebook. The web giant on Friday launched a new interface translated into Inuktitut, a dialect of Inuktut, the Inuit language, four years after announcing it.

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

This is a very important step for to make room for Inuktut on social media, says NTI President Aluki 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, had approximately 40,000 speakers in 2016, 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 of central Nunavut.

Aluki Kotierk believes that the interface now allows bilingual Inuit to actively choose to browse the website in their mother tongue. She even thinks it could motivate unilingual seniors to join the social network.

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

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 beginning, believes 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.

It's by elsewhere the Latin alphabet, rather than the syllabic script, which is used to display Inuktitut news feeds, settings and user profiles.

A page showing the Facebook interface in Inuktitut.

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.

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 said, had no equivalent in Inuktitut, which led her to wonder in particular about the context in which it was going to be used.

“It's a lot of fun to use traditional terminology in modern technology. »

— Jeela Palluq Cloutier, Translator

In a context where the Inuit language is experiencing a decline in favor of English, Jeela Palluq Cloutier believes that the interface will give those who wish to learn it or, simply, reinforce it, the possibility.

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

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 Translating Facebook application and to submit translations of words and phrases to compose the future interface. The most popular translation was taken as the official translation.

However, we wanted to make sure that what was on our platform would reflect the language that is most commonly used by Inuit, so [the] Pirurvik Center […] was asked to orchestrate this pilot project and the translation process, says Meta's Indigenous Policy Manager, Debbie Reid, via email.

More companies are translating into Indigenous languages ​​as 2022 begins the International Decade of Indigenous Languages. 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 native language fewer and fewer Inuit in Nunavut. In 2016, the last Statistics Canada census reported that it was for 65% of the population, compared to 72% in 2001.

With information from Teresa Qiatsuq and Cindy Alorut

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