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Microsoft Now Offering Cherokee Language Option

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A student at the Cherokee immersion school works on an Apple laptop. A student at the Cherokee immersion school works on an Apple laptop.
Teacher Chris Holmes can't wait for his kids to get their hands on the program. Teacher Chris Holmes can't wait for his kids to get their hands on the program.
The group has had to improvise in places where Microsoft commands are directly translatable. The group has had to improvise in places where Microsoft commands are directly translatable.
TAHLEQUAH, Oklahoma -

The Cherokee Nation has launched another effort to keep its language alive. The tribe is working with Microsoft to have the Cherokee language available for spreadsheets or Power Point presentations.

The Cherokee language is very important to its people.

"I teach the fourth grade, my name is Chris Holmes," said a Cherokee teacher, speaking that language.

Since 2002 the tribe has offered a Cherokee immersion school for preschoolers to 8th graders. The Cherokee Nation now has a new way to encourage the use of its language.

"To continue this Cherokee language to our youth is tremendously important to me," said John Ross, translation specialist.

John Ross and a team of specialists have spent the last two years translating Cherokee to work with the cloud-based Microsoft Office Web Apps called SkyDrive.

The Cherokee version went public Monday and joins 106 other languages offered by Microsoft. It allows anyone to make spreadsheets, Power Point presentations, or just a basic Word document in Cherokee.

"It shows that we're still here as a people, that our language is still vibrant, and we can still use it," said Roy Boney, a Cherokee Language program manager.

The interface is in Cherokee: words like file, save, or share, all had to be translated.

John Ross says it was a challenge because there is not always a Cherokee word that's a direct match for an English word. Take "Spyware," for example. Ross says they ended up choosing the Cherokee word that's similar to "stop."

11/20/2012 Related Story: Gmail Now Supports Cherokee Language

Ross says he's proud to have worked on a project that's helping spread the language he loves.

"That we preserve forever and that's something that is exciting to me," he said.

This is the first time a Native American language has been supported by Microsoft. The tribe hopes this encourages its citizens to get creative.

"I would like to see people create a lot more original content, start writing books and poetry," Roy Boney said.

Teacher Chris Holmes can't wait for his kids to get their hands on the program.

"It's a resource to where they can actually touch, feel, hear - you can research in Cherokee language," he said.

Anyone can get access to the Cherokee language on the Microsoft office web apps. Just sign up for a free SkyDrive account then look in the lower right hand corner for the language setting.

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