Many Indigenous languages have been lost and they are still disappearing. We spoke to an anthropologist who is an expert in Indigenous languages. He stated that the biggest difficulty in saving the existing languages is young people having no desire to learn them.
How can we work with Indigenous communities promoting languages and culture in a fun, engaging and playful way while being respectful to the culture?
A chat interface to Indigenous languages named Chatabout.
Chatabout has his own facebook page. Chatabout addresses the challenge to engage with indigenous community to promote languages of the first people. We built Chatabout to use the different language samples we found to interact with users.
Chatabout is a chatbot that can be accessed though the Facebook page or directly by going to his messenger account
Chatabout provides a simple translation service to give an understanding of the words it knows. It will translate English words to the indigenous language that you choose. For example
hand to yuwaalaraay will return
hand in yuwaalaraay is Maa and is pronounced Mah.
The more playful skill of Chatabout is the game you can play with the bot. The game is a guessing game where Chatabout will ask you questions about indigenous languages in it's database. The user will then accrue points which Chatabout will track and tell the user if they won the game after 5 questions.
A working prototype was built using Node.js and Chatfuel. It is hosted on the Heroku Cloud Platform.
- Build to work at scale.
- Expand the language database with new languages and new words.
- Add additional text games that Chatabout can play with the user.
Chatabout aims to be a blueprint for linking the worlds oldest culture with some of the worlds newest technology.
The primary data used was from 18 languages and composed mainly of body parts. This data set was compiled by the State Library of Queensland. It came in the form of CSV files which we transformed into JSON to be consumed by our chatbot backend.
We contacted an anthopologist who was an expert in Indigenous languages. He stated that there was once 600 languages across Australia. We find it heartbreaking that such a wealth of cultural knowledge is now so difficult to access. He also stated the this information exist. It is often a challenge to get though as it is often in hardcopy.
Evidence of Work
State Library of Queensland - Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander languages word lists
Indigenous Language for Youth