The Minister of Māori Affairs, Hon Dr Pita Sharples announced a proposed change in te reo strategy but failed to miss the fact that technology plays a vital role in this area.
For any language to be spoken by the masses it must be normalised and easy to access and widely used in not only the family but also in all aspects of society. There is a myriad of research that proves this to be the only successful solution for a language to survive.
Māori Television and Iwi radio has significantly normalised te reo Māori in the home, as much of the content is in te reo Māori. The next biggest home entertainment or in some areas the primary entertainment service is the Internet. Social media in Aotearoa New Zealand is a primary entertainment service which the te reo strategy has completely ignored.
Māori TV and Iwi radio became possible with the Waitangi Tribunal claim WAI 11 for spectrum allocation to Māori. WAI 776 sought spectrum for Māori on the same grounds to promote te reo Māori and gave Māori an opportunity to invest in spectrum and for the creation of 2Degrees mobile.
The claim for 4G spectrum failed as it was determined that the Crown could more effectively promote te reo Māori me Tiakanga via direct funding. In my opinion the justification for this is reasonable. Te Huarahi Tika Trust who are responsible for representing Māori and their investment in 3G spectrum via 2DegreesMobile and to promote te reo Māori have failed to deliver any significant benefits to Māori, while operating in a cloak and dagger style organisation for over a decade. Two lower end smart phones that are partially translated in te reo Māori were produced, while requests from the Android community to work in partnership to share resources so that anyone could freely use a localised Android phone were ignored, resulting in poor progress of te reo Māori in ICT.
Te Taura Whiri the Crown organisation who are Kaitiaki (Guardian) of te reo Māori have always been technology shy. Despite the high statistics usage in Aotearoa/New Zealand Te Taura Whiri have done little to normalise te reo in this area.
Google, Microsoft Windows, Microsoft Windows 8, Microsoft Office, Microsoft Smart Phone, Mega Upload and Facebook are all available in te reo Māori but none had a great deal of attention or support from Te Taura Whiri. Facebook which is used by 63% of New Zealanders was translated into te reo Māori by a language expert, yet Te Taura Whiri engaged on a knee jerk smear campaign saying the words were transliterations, created in isolation etc., despite the fact many of the words are used in Google and Microsoft products and there were not one transliteration in the system and the fact that a recognised and Te Taura Whiri certified language expert created the translations.
The proposed te reo governance consultation must consider all of the above facts and consider how best to normalise te reo Māori in the new world of technology and the Internet. It should also consider how best to use one taonga (700 MHZ Radio Spectrum) to protect another taonga (te reo Māori). It is time for a radical shift in thought and to invite young leaders who live in the new world to be actively involved in the te reo strategy.
With so much emphasis on te reo Māori being normalised; it looks as though spammers are now using Google Translate to translate spam into te reo Māori according to Robyn Gallagher http://www.robyngallagher.com/2014/01/11/te-reo-Māori-419-spam/ .
Is this a new avenue of normalisation albeit an annoying but normal part of our online lives? I suspect so! and that this is just the beginning of a new era of spam, viruses and phishing attacks that will be conducted in te reo Māori.
On one hand it is encouraging to see that te reo Māori is being recognised by international spammers as a living language but will this provide a negative backlash with speakers of te reo Māori who may be more trusting of a plea of assistance that is written in te reo Māori? Or perhaps we will see more sophisticated phishing attacks aimed at te reo Māori speakers?
In turn, Virus companies, Spam filers, phisinging alerts and web sites will all now need to recognise te reo Māori in order to be useful tools. Likewise, schools and web safelty agencies will also need to become aware of Google Translate when dealing with threats and other abusive correspondence that has been translated into te reo Māori.
It may also make hackers think more about te reo Māori passwords and phrases that many Māori speakers use for passwords as they are not so easily broken by automation attacks such as dictionary attacks.
This of course will provide ammunition for the te reo Māori elitists who will claim that automated te reo Māori tools such as Google Translate will only corrupt te reo Māori , as te reo Māori becomes more accessible and normalised loosing much of its current economic value. But automated translations should be embraced and used as a tool for people to learn to speak Māori and it certainly makes te reo Māori more mainstream and normal. There will always be a need for well written te reo Māori as there is with well written English.
A positive example of Google Translate is my American friend in Los Angeles sent me a Christmas card written in te reo Māori using Google Translate. It is exciting and surreal to read it, but it is nice and is promoting the usage of te reo Māori on a global scene that was once never possible.
In Twitter post, a te reo expert/Public Figure and broadcaster Juilian Wilcox rightly points out that the translation is not the best and he likens part of it to Samoan and Tongan. But Google and Dr Te Taka Keegan have raised the fact that the automated translation now required human suggestions to improve the automated translations. The more speakers of te reo Māori who assist with the improvements the better automation will become.
Te reo Maori in spam is simply an evolution of a once dying language that is now accessible to anyone in the world with access to Google Translate.
Google recently announced its support for several minority languages to translate into and from English with Māori being one of the minority languages.
Background information from my October 15 2009 post is here.
To use the translator visit http://translate.google.com
For years a computer generated system to translate to and from te reo Māori has only been a dream and one that most people never expected to occur.
Google Translate will translate from Māori to English and English to Māori. To translate from English to Māori:
Māori speakers required to improve translations.
The Translator is still in its infancy and does require fluent speakers to rate various translations that will be used to improve the algorithms of the system. Anyone can do this without the need to register or log in. Simply visit http://translate.google.com
The translations are mediocre and often do not have macrons, but nevertheless the system works well for an early system.
The World Internet Project New Zealand released their latest report “World Internet Project, New Zealand; The Internet in New Zealand 2013.” with some interesting statistics based ethnicity and in particular, Māori.
I have extracted the ethnicity statistics and have included commentary.
I am interviewed about my opinions on how 4G Spectrum will benefit te reo Maori and Tikanga. I also briefly discuss my opinion of the allocation of a proposed $30 million Maori ICT fund.