Online dictionary Marayum helps preserve Philippine indigenous languages

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Metro Manila (CNN Philippines, September 9) — For the team behind online dictionary Marayum, their mission could not be any clearer: help the country’s indigenous communities keep their treasured languages. 

The dictionary-making tool, which is financed by the Department of Science and Technology, currently has four languages — Asi, Kinaray-a, Cebuano and Hiligaynon — and the team is in talks with different language communities to widen its reach with 13 additional dictionaries.

Project leader Mario Carreon noted that the Philippines has 186 languages — 34 of which are endangered, 11 are dying, while two have become extinct.

“When a language is lost, you lose the spirit of the culture. It’s really heartbreaking,” Carreon told CNN Philippines.

Carreon, an assistant professor at the Department of Computer Science of the University of the Philippines in Diliman, said the community itself uploads and maintains the Marayum dictionary.

"What the website does, it just simply abstracts the community from the need to have technical knowledge in Information Technology to have an online dictionary of their language," he added.

Native speakers of an indigenous language can serve as contributors, he said, adding that the team recommends individuals with linguistic training to serve as reviewers or editors.

The Marayum team is comprised of UP graduates from various disciplines.