Microsoft releases first Windows OS in an original American language

Cherokee Nation translators build Windows 8 language pack


Members of the largest remaining group of Native Americans, the Cherokee, have built the first local language pack for Windows 8, just 27 years after the launch of the original Windows.

"The project started with Tracy Monteith, a Cherokee citizen in North Carolina who worked at Microsoft, who'd wanted it done for a long time but it didn't come together until recently," Cherokee Nation spokeswoman Julie Hubbard told The Register. "Volunteers translated over 180,000 words for the language pack over the last year and a half; it's the biggest project since the [Cherokee] translation of the Bible."

Where words had to be invented for modern features, the translators consulted with elders or ancient texts for reference points. Microsoft also developed a new sans-serif user interface font called Gadugi – the Cherokee word for "working together" – for the Windows 8 build, as well as for a forthcoming version of Office 2013.

Enthusiastic staff also built a phonetic keyboard layout for the language, working with a Cherokee typist named Skasdi (meaning awesome, powerful, or nasty) for his skills on the keyboard, to refine the design.

Cherokee Windows

Windows 8 goes native

Key to the whole project was the extensive tribal efforts to preserve and maintain the Cherokee language, particularly among the group's younger generation. This involves special classes that children can attend, including technology modules, that are taught solely in Cherokee. Native speakers also tour districts maintaining language skills.

Thanks to these efforts, the Cherokee language has gone from being something no one under the age of 40 spoke conversationally a decade ago, to having over 3,000 fluent speakers, with the language increasingly being used in day-to-day conversations.

"Today technology is deeply integrated into our everyday lives – if that technology is not provided in the user's native tongue, then they will use whatever language is accessible to them," blogged Carla Hurd, program manager of Microsoft's local language program.

"That is why Microsoft believed it was important to work with the Cherokee Nation Language Team on creating access to our products in their language."

It's a little unfair to tease Microsoft about it taking this long to get a Native American editon of Windows. Since the launch of Windows XP, Redmond has put a lot of effort into catering for the world's diversity, building translated editions of its software in over 100 languages.

It is, however, lagging somewhat behind Apple in this case. Cupertino built a Cherokee version of iOS two years ago, and Mac OS has supported the language since 2003, again with the help of Cherokee Nation volunteers. ®

Similar topics


Other stories you might like

  • Apple’s M2 chip isn’t a slam dunk, but it does point to the future
    The chip’s GPU and neural engine could overshadow Apple’s concession on CPU performance

    Analysis For all the pomp and circumstance surrounding Apple's move to homegrown silicon for Macs, the tech giant has admitted that the new M2 chip isn't quite the slam dunk that its predecessor was when compared to the latest from Apple's former CPU supplier, Intel.

    During its WWDC 2022 keynote Monday, Apple focused its high-level sales pitch for the M2 on claims that the chip is much more power efficient than Intel's latest laptop CPUs. But while doing so, the iPhone maker admitted that Intel has it beat, at least for now, when it comes to CPU performance.

    Apple laid this out clearly during the presentation when Johny Srouji, Apple's senior vice president of hardware technologies, said the M2's eight-core CPU will provide 87 percent of the peak performance of Intel's 12-core Core i7-1260P while using just a quarter of the rival chip's power.

    Continue reading
  • Workers win vote to form first-ever US Apple Store union
    Results set to be ratified by labor board by end of the week

    Workers at an Apple Store in Towson, Maryland have voted to form a union, making them the first of the iGiant's retail staff to do so in the United States.

    Out of 110 eligible voters, 65 employees voted in support of unionization versus 33 who voted against it. The organizing committee, known as the Coalition of Organized Retail Employees (CORE), has now filed to certify the results with America's National Labor Relations Board. Members joining this first-ever US Apple Store union will be represented by the International Association of Machinists and Aerospace Workers (IAM).

    "I applaud the courage displayed by CORE members at the Apple store in Towson for achieving this historic victory," IAM's international president Robert Martinez Jr said in a statement on Saturday. "They made a huge sacrifice for thousands of Apple employees across the nation who had all eyes on this election."

    Continue reading
  • Apple dev roundup: Weather data meets privacy, and other good stuff
    No AR/VR glasses but at least RoomPlan will let you make rapid 3D room maps

    WWDC Apple this week at its Worldwide Developer Conference delivered software development kits (SDKs) for beta versions of its iOS 16, iPadOS 16, macOS 13, tvOS 16, and watchOS 9 platforms.

    For developers sold on seeking permission from Apple to distribute their software and paying a portion of revenue for the privilege, it's a time to celebrate and harken to the message from the mothership.

    While the consumer-facing features in the company's various operating systems consist largely of incremental improvements like aesthetic and workflow enhancements, the developer APIs in the underlying code should prove more significant because they will allow programmers to build apps and functions that weren't previously possible. Many of the new capabilities are touched on in Apple's Platforms State of the Union presentation.

    Continue reading

Biting the hand that feeds IT © 1998–2022