Bolivia: Group translates Facebook into native language

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The indigenous Aymara play folk music in La PazImage source, AFP
Image caption,
Some Aymara speakers don't speak Spanish, meaning Facebook has so far been inaccessible to them

A group of volunteers in Bolivia has spent more than a year translating Facebook into the indigenous Aymara language, as part of efforts to protect their native tongue, it's reported.

The project is being run by the Jaqi Aru group, which promotes the language's use on the internet, the El Pais newspaper reports. The group says 15 to 20 volunteers have so far translated 24,000 Spanish words into Aymara - the number Facebook requires before launching the site in a new language. The translations are now being reviewed by the US-based company.

The language is spoken by about two million indigenous Aymara people, who live in the Andes and Altiplano regions of Bolivia, Chile and Peru. It is the second-most spoken of Bolivia's 36 indigenous languages - all of which, along with Spanish, are recognised as official under Bolivia's constitution. It is currently categorised as "vulnerable" on Unesco's list of at-risk languages.

"Aymara is alive. It does not need to be revitalised. It needs to be strengthened and that is exactly what we are doing," says Ruben Hilari, a member of Jaqi Aru. He tells El Pais that using Facebook in their native language will boost young people's self-esteem. "If we do not work for our language and culture today, it will be too late tomorrow to remember who we are, and we will always feel insecure about our identity," he says.

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