Emotikis and new keyboards bring indigenous culture to text messaging A selection of "Emotikis" inspired by Maori culture and traditions. (Courtesy of Te Puia)
Emotikis and new keyboards bring indigenous culture to text messaging
Lexile

Downloading new keyboards and emoji sets are a great way for smartphone users to show off their individuality and play around with cute icons. But it's also a powerful tool for technological inclusivity. Now, indigenous people from around the world are turning to emojis and keyboards to promote their cultural heritage. And in some cases, they are using it to save their languages from extinction.
 
Over the last few years, the cartoon pictograms have become an integral part of how many people communicate. This is through email or text messaging. In recent years, there has been a push to include more diversity in emoticons. For instance, adding new options for a variety of skin tones in smiley faces and including icons depicting same-sex couples.
 
But when people from the Te Puia Maori cultural center in Rotorua, New Zealand, looked at existing emojis, they realized there was an opportunity to create some that reflected their country's indigenous cultures.
 
"We see these as a lighthearted and inclusive way to share the meaning of Maori words and concepts with other cultures and with all New Zealanders," Te Puia spokesperson Kiri Atkinson-Crean said in a statement.
 
Te Puia designed more than 150 emoticons that they have dubbed "Emotikis." The pictograms include traditional objects from Maori culture. These include outrigger canoes, a traditional weapon called a "taiaha," and a tiki making all kinds of faces, Radio New Zealand reports. The set even includes a number of animated emoji gifs. Swinging poi and moving taiaha are two.
 
But while the Maori emojis may be designed with fun in mind, Atkinson-Crean says they give Maori youth a way to engage with each other online. They can use signifiers from their own culture.
 
"All they could use were expressions and symbols from other countries. We wanted to give them another form of this language with Maori culture Emotikis for an opportunity to express themselves," Atkinson-Crean said in a statement.
 
The Emotiki app will be available to download for free on smartphones and tablets.
 
Even so, there is more to texting than emoticons. Many languages are inexpressible. This is because of the limited symbols available for most smartphone keyboards. Many of those languages are at risk of disappearing.
 
In Canada, there are more than 60 different indigenous languages. They are spoken by First Nations people. But many of these languages are at risk of disappearing. During the late 19th century, government policies tore First Nations children from their parents. This was in order to forcibly assimilate them into Euro-Canadian and Christian culture. Raised in state-run schools, they were forbidden to speak their native languages. This is according to Cailynn Klingbeil. She was reporting for Motherboard.
 
Native groups have advocated for years to have their languages officially recognized by Canada. To promote and protect their languages, they're also turning to technology for solutions. For example, the FirstVoices Keyboard is a free app for iPhone and Android smartphones that allows anyone to write in more than 100 indigenous languages from around the world.
 
"The app is another strategy to help revitalize and promote the indigenous languages," Alex Wadsworth, who developed the FirstVoices Keyboard for the First Peoples' Cultural Council, tells Klingbeil.
 
Many indigenous languages require characters that weren't available on smartphones, tablets and the like. So Wadsworth programmed in these characters and then applied his keyboards to use for text messaging and writing emails, Klingbeil reports. Since Wadsworth began working on chat programs in 2012, he has added support for many indigenous languages from around the world. These include Atikamekw, Inuvialuktun, Maori, and Wendat.
 
"You can text an elder now," Wadsworth tells Klingbeil.

Filed Under:  
Assigned 100 times
CRITICAL THINKING QUESTION
Why are many languages inexpressible with the limited symbols available for most smartphone keyboards?
Write your answers in the comments section below


COMMENTS (10)
  • crodger-dav
    9/08/2016 - 07:10 p.m.

    In response to "Emotikis and New Keyboards Bring Indigenous Culture Text Messaging," I agree that this is important. One reason I agree is that with out stuff like this no one would know what their cultures like. Another reason is that it also help reach out to their youth. It says in the article "they give Maori youth a way to engage with each other online. They can use signifies from their own culture.". A third reason is that I just think its cool that they are trying to do this.

  • mariannae1-hei
    9/09/2016 - 02:36 p.m.

    Many languages are inexpressible with the limited symbols available for most smartphone keyboards because, there are lots of different languages around the world and if you from a different country that don't speak the same language as you, you can put an emoji there and they would know what you are talking about.

  • richardm-ech
    9/12/2016 - 09:58 a.m.

    Many languages are inexpressible with the limited symbols available for most smartphone keyboards because, there are lots of different languages around the world and if you from a different country that don't speak the same language as you, you can put an emoji there and they would know what you are talking about.

  • hansiddhs-eat
    9/12/2016 - 10:53 a.m.

    They are just another waste of emojis because the emoji business needs more so by changing the shape and color its just another shameless attempt to make money.

  • mcaitlin-dav
    9/21/2016 - 09:05 p.m.

    In response to 'Emotikis and new keyboards bring indigenous culture to text messaging' I think that all phones should get/have emotikis. The first reason is, "Downloading new keyboards and emojis sets are a great way for smartboards users to show off their individuality," people can show off their personality with emotikis. The second reason is people can share their culture because according to the article, " People from around the world are turning to emojis and keyboards to promote their culture heritage." The third reason is, "They are using it to save their languages from extinction," that is important to save peoples languages. Even though smart phones having emotikis is new and cool, I think it's very powerful for technological indusivity.

  • kanthony-dav
    9/22/2016 - 08:45 p.m.

    In response to "Culture to Text messaging," I agree it is a good idea to have these emoji's. One reason that I agree is that using the emoji's shows your personality. Another reason I agree is that these emoji's will keep languages from extinction. It says in the article that they are using these emoji keyboards to keep there language from extinction which was what I said. A third reason is it allows many more people around the world use emoji's and have a more clear understanding of what they mean. Even though emoji's are over used to some people, I think making different types is a great idea.

  • kaileew-ste
    10/19/2016 - 01:24 p.m.

    Emoticons are the new way to show emotions. People can now show their heritage through emoticons. This is a good idea because now there are even more options for every person.

  • ochristina-dav
    10/20/2016 - 04:25 p.m.


    In response to "Emotikis and new keyboards bring indigenous culture to text messaging," I agree that this new emoji set would benefit other cultures. One reason I agree is that just the emojis right now can not possibly be for every culture, so we should add new ones so that everyone would feel included. Another reason is that the other cultures out there can get a chance and communicate online in their own way. It says in the article, "Many languages are inexpressible. This is because of the limited symbols available for most smartphone keyboards. Many of those languages are at risk of disappearing." So, this proves my point that it would benefit other cultures and their languages as well. A third reason is that as stated in the article, languages have a risk of being wiped out so we should help revive them once again. Even though others would think this would be a waste of time, I think it can be a help.

  • htaylor-dav
    10/20/2016 - 09:56 p.m.

    I think the idea of new Emotikis and new keyboarding is just straight up stupid. We need the speak with words, not random pictures. Canada has a risk of losing its 60 different indigenous languages, these languages were spoken by First Nation people. texting pictures of your culture is a great idea, but think of everything that could cause a problem by doing it, the originals are fine, there is nothing wrong with them, so why are we making more that we don't need. Sure it is cool to text someone a gorilla with glasses on, but what are you saying, what are you talking about. The other person on the other side of that text group might not understand what you are trying to tell them, it is just a picture. To promote and protect their language, they're also turning to technology for a solution. This has just gone WAY OUT OF CONTROL, these aren't as necessary as the forests and people, our water and our food, is a stupid app for gorilla emoji's really more important then those problems?

  • bmeye-wim
    10/21/2016 - 01:02 p.m.

    The languages are inexpressible (hard to explain)with the limited symbols for most smartphone keyboards because, the isn't an emoji for every emotion we feel in our different situations.

Take the Quiz Leave a comment
ADVERTISEMENT