In a major step forward in promoting and perpetuating the Native Hawaiian language, Microsoft’s recent launch of Windows 8 includes support for the Hawaiian language, thanks to a collaborative effort with University of Hawaii faculty.
The Windows 8 software includes a Hawaiian keyboard layout in the operating system, with many fonts containing the diacritical marks used in the Hawaiian language, and other localized resources such as the ability to show days of the week and months in Hawaiian.
This development was made possible by the joint efforts of staff of Ka Haka
‘Ula O Ke‘elik?lani College of Hawaiian Language at the University of Hawaii at Hilo
Keola Donaghy, formerly of Ka Haka ‘Ula O Ke‘elik?lani and now a faculty member in the music department of University of Hawaii Maui College, collaborated with
programmers in Microsoft’s Local Languages Program for several years to develop these resources and see that they were included in Windows 8.
"We’re getting very close to the day that Hawaiian speakers will be able to take for granted the fact that they can simply type in Hawaiian when they buy a new computer, tablet, or smart phone without installing special software," Donaghy said.
"Providing technology support in a native language is critical to helping people access the tools they need to create better economic opportunities," said Anthony Salcito, Vice President of Worldwide Education for Microsoft. "Language preservation and support also helps preserve cultural identities for the next generation of learners."
Keiki Kawae‘ae‘a, a faculty member of Ka Haka ‘Ula O Ke‘elik?lani added, "We are
thrilled that Microsoft has recognized the significance of the Hawaiian language to its people, and how important it is for us to be able to use it on our computers. Given the high percentage of personal computers that ship with and run the Windows operating system, this is one of the most significant developments that we’ve made."
Language support for computer operating systems and programs has historically
depended on the number of speakers of the language and perceived market.
Major European and Asian languages have been widely supported by software vendors for many years, while speakers of native American, Polynesian, and other indigenous languages have had to depend on customized fonts and keyboards simply to be able to view, type and print the characters used in their languages on personal computers.
However, in recent years major operating system and software vendors such as
Microsoft, Google, and Apple Computer, Inc. have recognized the importance of
supporting a wider array of languages.