A decade of free Māori Language software

It is hard to believe that a decade ago I nervously released Te Ngutu Kura Māori Spell Checker for Windows: then just last week I released version 3 with over 58,000 words for a wide range of applications and systems. It was about 12 years ago I created Moana Kupu Māori spell checker, which is a smaller version with less features of Te Ngutu Kura, but it is a commercial product sold by my former employer.

I still hold on to the belief that our language should not be turned into commercial products at the expense of anyone who wants to learn to speak, or who have a birth right to speak their mother tounge.

Over a decade ago, I envisioned that Māori proofing tools would be a default with Microsoft Operating systems. While that has not occurred, there are language packs that will translate Office and Windows into Māori Language.

The key difference of Te Ngutu Kura version 3, is that there is now a commercial support option. Several large organisations in the past have made it clear to me that they cannot utilise free software, despite Te Ngutu Kura being the best available. The commercial support option will also have the option of regular and minor tweets and customisations.

I have also declined to add the Microsoft keyboard to the initial release, instead favouring the Microsoft default keyboard which I have promoted over my custom keyboard for several years. The other Māori editing tools that were a part of Te Ngutu Kura will also be offered at a later date as separate resources with several new additions, including: text in double vowels and umlauts to be accurately converted into proper macrons. There are also a number of macron keyboards for various current and older systems.

Historically, Māori spell checkers have been primarily for Windows based Microsoft Office applications resulting in a large part of the population having had no access to Māori language proofing tools. Also, Māori spell checkers were only based on dictionary entries, meaning that some suggestions may not reflect accurately daily spelling.

Te Ngutu Kura begun with a source list of over 125,000 dictionary entries, and then was cross referenced against Māori frequency word lists compiled from online texts and conversations, courtesy of Professor Kevin Scannell. The end result is a list of over 58,000 words that will proof most applications on a computer and the web.

I hope to partner and am in current discussions with other developers in the coming moths to release iPhone, Android and Blackberry spell checkers and related editing tools.

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