This post is part of our preview of “Using Citizen Media Tools to Promote Under-Represented Languages.”
Say you've always wanted to learn Quechua, an indigenous language spoken in the Andes Region of South America, but you haven't had the time to properly take classroom lessons. Now a new project called Hablemos Quechua (Let's Speak Quechua) has developed a way to provide daily lessons through a series of automated Tweets to help build up an interested learner's vocabulary.
The project describes itself as a “techno-socio-cultural experiment to re-establish connections,” and was developed at Escuela Lab, a “hackspace” located in Lima, Peru. The team includes Kiko Mayorga, developer Mariano Crowe, and Irma Alvarez Ccoscco, a Quechua poet and a translator from the organization Runasimipi. The result of this collaboration is the Twitter account (@hablemosquechua), which currently has nearly 1700 followers. The program draws from a database of Spanish words and their Quechua equivalents to provide vocabulary matches:
It also tweets small quizzes where it asks followers to recall earlier lessons:
The Quechua language has numerous dialects and differs from region to region, producing variations in words and spellings. This is something fully recognized by the project [es], in which they apologize for choosing the Quechua spoken in the Cusco-Collao region of Peru for the dialect used in the program. It is the primary reason why the tweets use the phrasing “the word in Quechua for “flower” could be “t'ika,” as a way of acknowledging that there could be other words for flower.
It is one of the challenges that the project seeks to address in the coming months, as it seeks funding to further develop the program. There are hopes to be able to account for these differences in regional dialects, as well as to make the account much more interactive and responsive to replies from its followers. The program could also be potentially used by other language communities that would like to use Twitter as a way to provide short and quick vocabulary lessons for learners of underrepresented languages.
I do well to properly use english, but happy and pleased to work on it. Rest gently please.
Very nice :) While I understand that there are regional differences and it would mean extra work, maybe the team can add links to small audio files with the pronunciation of Quenchua by the people of the Cusco-Collao region. It would certainly help.
warm regards and best wishes for the continuation of your project :)
The project is similar to what I intend to do in my community, I intend to use the social media to revitalize Igbo Language. This language which is spoken by people that live in the eastern part of Nigeria has become endangered. My utmost goal is to build young people’s interest in learning the language, making it appealing and encouraging them to be proud of their native language. As it is an identity that should not be allowed to go into extinction. So please I will like to collaborate with you. This will enable us to share experiences. I will be very glad to hear from you soon. Thanks