Te reo Māori has been put on a huge global stage after being added to a multinational language learning app, Stuff reports. Drops, named Google Play's best app of 2018, lets users match an image with the Māori translation—just as easy as swiping on Tinder.
The app, which already has 10 million users across 31 languages, has now launched 2000 Māori words. Most linguists agree this vocabulary comprehension level is enough to understand between 80 to 90 percent of a language.
Drops co-founder and chief executive Daniel Farkas said that recently launched languages Icelandic and Hawaiian had become popular, and he was hoping for the same reaction to te reo Māori.
"There are already wonderful initiatives in effect in New Zealand to preserve the Māori language, and we're keen to do our bit in supporting its resurgence with Māori on Drops,” he said. "Helping to preserve and promote smaller languages around the world is a cause very close to my heart, so it's been exciting to see New Zealand's genuine interest in the revitalisation of te reo Māori."
Drops joins similar local apps, Kupu and He aha tēne, in trying to make learning te reo convenient and straightforward. RNZ journalist Te Āniwaniwa Hurihanganui, who did the Māori voiceover, said apps like Drops not only make Māori more accessible to Kiwis, but "they bring our beautiful language to people across the world".
Her brother, Aperahama Hurihanganui, a cultural consultant, said it took him three weeks of working around the clock to translate about 4000 words for the app. Occasionally some words had no Māori translation, in which case there will be a transliteration—a Māori word that sounds like an English word—or an entirely new word. "You have to be quite careful because you need it to be understood. And I think that's also a positive thing because the Māori language is always changing and adapting and developing the inclusion of new words into the vocabulary," he said.