A new app is now available with the goal of documenting the endangered Aboriginal language of Iwaidja. This indigenous language is primarily now spoken on Croker Island, in the north of Australia, and has just three vowels. There are estimated to be around 150 speakers of the language currently.
The app, named Ma! Iwaidja, features a phrasebook, an English-Iwaidja dictionary with 1500 entries, as well as a feature to enable users to record words or phrases to be submitted to the dictionary.
Linguist Bruce Birch, from the Australian National University, who helped develop the app, said that the software would become the world’s most user friendly language documentation tool.
“With little or no training, users will be able to upload recordings of new dictionary entries and phrases to be moderated and checked for accuracy before being made available for download to all users of the app. With the upload, users will be able to include ‘metadata’ relevant to the recording, such as who the speaker was, or a photo of what they were talking about. That additional functionality means that the app becomes a living, constantly-developing repository and capture device for a language that is otherwise losing ground fast.”
The app is due to be launched in May 2013.