What Motorola Is Doing To Keep Endangered Indigenous Languages Alive in Latin America

Lead Photo: Courtesy of Motorola.
Courtesy of Motorola.
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When you hear the word “endangered” you likely think of wildlife. But you may be surprised to know that there are endangered languages too. Much like the World Wildlife Fund (WWF) has a list of endangered species, an organization called The United Nations Educational Scientific and Cultural Organization (UNESCO) has its own list for languages. Cell phone company Motorola is trying to keep two such indigenous languages spoken in the Amazon from going extinct: Kaingang and Nheengatu.

First, a bit about both indigenous languages: Kaingang originates from a community in Southeast Brazil. UNESCO has classified this language as “definitely endangered.” Such a designation means that, for children, it is no longer their first language at home. For adults, only about half of the community speaks the language.

Nheengatu is from the Nheengatu community of about 20,000. They mostly reside in the Amazon and less than a third of its people speak the language. Therefore, the language has been given a “severely endangered” designation. A classification such as this means that older generations likely speak it amongst themselves, but not to their children or grandchildren.

Both regions rely heavily on technology despite not having the most reliable internet access. Teachers use cell phones as part of their classrooms to help students learn. With the addition of these languages, the cell phone company hopes it will allow for more communication as well as helping to keep indigineous languages alive. It’s a win for the community,and one for the cell phone maker as sales are likely to go up in a region where they are second only to Samsung in terms of market share.

The endangered languages are both available on Motorola Android phones. Any Motorola phone with Android 11 can access the two added languages, not just the priciest of the cell phone bunch.