Saving a language … is there an app for that?
There is now, thanks to a project by Rosetta Stone and the Navajo Language Renaissance to help users learn Diné, the Navajo language, according to a news release.
“We’re trying to share with those that don’t know their Navajo language or for those that have an interest in learning a language,” said Clayton Long, director and president of the Navajo Language Renaissance board.
As of 2011, Navajo is the most spoken Native American language, according to the U.S. Census Bureau. However, fewer than 170,000 people speak it, earning it status as an “endangered language.”
More than 100 Navajo people, over a 15-year period, contributed to this language preservation project around the tri-state area of Arizona, New Mexico and Utah, with audio recordings, cultural support, photos and language expertise.
Clayton said he hopes the app will be used in Navajo Nation schools, homes and chapter houses to combat language decline. Clayton said a shift in point of view from the elders helped spur the idea of using an app as the main teaching vessel for learning Navajo.
“They figure the kids are drawn to technology like computers and iPhones, those kinds of things,” Long said. “They realize that’s their culture today. And, because of that, it makes sense that we use technology to be able to teach the language and the culture.”
The app is available on the Android and Apple app stores for smartphones and tablets, and through web browsers on desktops and laptops.
A subscription to the Rosetta Stone Navajo app costs $95 for one year, or $150 for two.
All revenue made from the app will go to the Navajo Language Renaissance, a nonprofit organization dedicated to revitalizing and preserving the Navajo language.