Through Technology, the Osage Seek to Save their Language

Wahzhazhe, an Osage language app for phones and tablets, was launched in late October. [Screenshot]

By Justin Wingerter – Watchdog Federal government reporter

January 2, 2018 – Mogri Lookout had been studying the Osage language for three decades when, in 2004, he was asked to lead the tribe's efforts to preserve it.

“It was what I considered to be a dying language back then,” he said.

But interest in the Osage language — like the Osage people — now stretches far beyond the tribe's reservation in northern Oklahoma to Florida, California, Washington and across the Atlantic Ocean to Britain. Lookout knew he needed a way to teach Osage members their native tongue from a distance.

“Not everyone and their mom is going to come to Pawhuska, Oklahoma,” said Mark Pearson, the Osage Language Department's webmaster.

The solution lied in Unicode, a worldwide computing code for languages. Lookout designed Osage characters for the code and traveled with Pearson to a Unicode conference in California this October. Later that month, the tribe released Wahzhazhe, its language app for phones and tablets.

The free app, written in English, has 500 entries in 33 categories. Click on “greetings” and you'll hear an Osage speaker tell you how to say hello, how to introduce yourself and ask basic questions. Click on “family” and you'll learn how to pronounce family titles, such as son, daughter, mother and father.

READ MORE: Through technology, the Osage seek to save their language | News OK. (n.d.). Retrieved January 29, 2018.

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