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Google launches app to preserve Louisiana Creole

Updated: May. 12, 2021 at 4:27 PM CDT
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LAKE CHARLES, La. (KPLC) - These days, it’s hard to come across someone who can speak Creole French, and that’s because it’s one of 10 endangered languages across the globe.

To preserve endangered languages, the Google Arts & Culture app launched Woolaroo – an open-source photo-translation experiment powered by machine learning. The app was created in close collaboration with language organizations from five continents and multiple teams across Google.

In Louisiana, Google partnered with the team behind Ti Liv Kreyol, the first book for learning Louisiana Creole. Creole is one of 10 endangered languages that Woolaroo explores.

With so many indigenous languages on the downturn, Google is throwing them a lifeline.

”This app enables people to take a picture of objects around them. And then they can learn what those objects are in many different languages,” said Google Arts & Culture program manager Chance Coughenour.

Coughenour says because Woolaroo is open source, anyone can contribute to help save their own endangered language.

”Not only in Louisiana, but other speakers that live in other parts of the U.S., in the world, can use this as an opportunity to maybe learn how to say a few ingredients from their grandmother’s dish,” Coughenour said.

According to scholars, Louisiana creole originated around 1803. With only 7,000 to 9,000 thousand speakers left spread throughout Louisiana, California, Illinois and Texas, the goal is that the app will cross cultural and age boundaries.

”With Louisiana Creole, this is a language that preserves our history and our heritage. And it’s not something you can touch, which makes it even more challenging and difficult to preserve it. But this is why we need to work together to do it,” Coughenour said.

Woolaroo is a Progressive Web App (PWA) that will enable everyone to take a photo and receive a translated label of the objects in frame in their chosen endangered language, as well as listen to the correct pronunciation. Woolaroo’s Cloud Vision API can recognize common objects such as cups, plants, glasses, bicycles, etc.

The best part? Everyone can participate in expanding the Woolaroo language libraries! If the word translation hasn’t been provided, users can provide the information through the app. The feedback will then be reviewed and approved by the language partners.

Google believes language is an important part of any society, because it enables people to communicate and express themselves. When a language dies out, future generations lose a vital part of the culture that is necessary to completely understand it.

Explore more on the Google Arts & Culture app for iOS and Android and at https://woolaroo-project.appspot.com/intro/about.

Currently, the app supports 10 global languages including Calabrian Greek, Louisiana Creole, Māori, Nawat, Tamazight, Rapa Nui, Sicilian, Yang Zhuang, Yiddish, and Yugambeh.

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