Swampy Cree language app created by Manitoba student looks to bridge cultural gap

A Manitoba student is hoping his new Swampy Cree language app will help bridge cultural gaps and preserve a language that is thousands of years old.

Cameron Adams started working on his app, called nēhinawēwin, in December 2018. After nearly three years, Adams said the app is now available for free for Apple devices and has thousands of words and phrases connected to audio for people to learn the language.

“This app is really for everyone. More specifically, it’s for people who want to learn the language. It’s for people who maybe their grandparent speaks the language but they don’t, so it can be a connector tool that maybe bridges a gap in culture,” Adams said.

“It’s all about accessibility and making sure that people have access to a language that is thousands of years old.”

Adams, an education student at the University of Winnipeg, said he has been working on the app part-time throughout his education. He said the app has given him the opportunity to work with Cree speakers and document the Swampy Cree language.

He said he has noticed an improvement in his own ability to speak the language since he started working on the app.

“It is really a cool thing that when I talk with somebody I can understand some verbs, I can understand the gist of what someone is saying,” He said. “I am far from fluent, but I have gained a working knowledge of Cree as well as I have improved my writing ability.”

Adams said the U of W chipped in some funding for the development of the app and to pay for translators. He said he is already looking to expand the app.

“I am looking to work with a linguist, that would be a dream, so that we could document the language and really make the resource state of the art.”

He said he hopes this will be a good resource for other people looking to learn the language.

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