Google Looks At Maori Language

    July 25, 2007

Google’s Australian branch is quite proud of the country’s culture and origins.  As word spreads about a new project, it seems that Google’s taking a strong interest in New Zealand, as well; the search engine should soon be available in Maori, a language native to the area.

Of course, New Zealand’s only about 1,200 miles off Australia’s coast (“only” in the sense there’s not much nearer), so the project sort of makes sense.  And as Potaua Biasiny-Tule told Yvonne Tahana for an article in The New Zealand Herald, “They had Klingon and the Muppets, even Elmer Fudd.  We asked ourselves, ‘Where was Maori?’”

You’ll note that Mr. Biasiny-Tule referred to Google as “they” – he and his wife, who are developing the Maori version of Google, don’t actually work for the company.  Tahana reports, “Google had provided a template but making sure translations lined up with technology-based Maori words, agreeing on common words across different dialects and relying on a team of volunteers” is all up to the Biasiny-Tules.

Sounds like a quite an undertaking, eh?  There’s no mention of how many volunteers are a part of the team, or when, exactly, a “final result” can be expected.  Tahana does mention, “The project started about five weeks ago and the first of eight pages will be submitted to Google . . . to coincide with the launch of Maori Language Week.”  At this point in time, adjust “will be” to “have been.”

And keep an eye on Google’s language interface options; you never know when Maori could appear between Maltese and Marathi.