You may have read a couple of weeks back about our 40-language initiative and our broader goal of making the world’s information accessible in as many languages as possible. For this reason we were extremely pleased last week to take part in an event in Rotorua, New Zealand for the launch of the Google homepage and search interface in the Maori language. I want to emphasize “take part in”, because much of the hard work that made this announcement possible came from a dedicated team of volunteer translators across New Zealand.
In conjunction with our active effort to make all of our products and services available in 40 languages, beginning in 2001 we began a program known as Google in Your Language, which is designed to give anyone the tools to translate Google services into languages in which they are fluent. Thanks to this program, as well as our other efforts to localize our products, the Google homepage itself now appears in more than 100 languages.
Around the time the Google in Your Language program began, I reached out to a former colleague at Waikato University, Dr. Te Taka Keegan, with the idea of translating Google into Maori. While working on his doctorate, Te Taka began the translation effort in his spare time. Over the course of the next six years, with the help of several other volunteers, he had covered 68% of the messages. It was at this point in 2007 that the husband-and-wife team of Potaua and Nikolasa Biasiny-Tule caught wind of the effort, and took it upon themselves to complete the project. Thanks to their passion for the Maori language and technical savvy, they were able to recruit the help of the Maori Language Commission and dozens of volunteers, leading ultimately to all translations being completed within a year—just in time for Maori Language Week 2008. By the end of it all, more than 1,600 phrases, totaling more that 8,500 words, had been translated.
Besides being a fantastic volunteer effort, the Google Maori project is a great example of how the Internet encourages user participation, especially in particular cultural and linguistic communities. I'd like to offer a tremendous thank you and congratulations to the Maori translation team in New Zealand, and to all those who helped make this possible.Posted by Craig Nevill-Manning, Engineering Director