Yugambeh has been selected from thousands of Indigenous languages worldwide to feature on a new Google app.
12 May 2021

Yugambeh, an Aboriginal language of South East Queensland, will be included on the Woolaroo app—built on Google Cloud Vision API to enable people to explore endangered languages from around the globe.

Users simply take a picture of an object and the application shows the word in the nominated language, along with its pronunciation.

For the hardworking team at Yugambeh Museum, which is supported through our Indigenous Languages and Arts program, the Woolaroo open source software provides a new way to share and preserve their language.

'We can include word lists and audio recordings to help with pronunciation, which enhances the work we've been doing for the last 30 years gathering local language and cultural stories,' Yugambeh Museum CEO Rory O'Connor said.

'The app will also allow us to expand our vocabulary because community members can add in newly remembered words and phrases. We can also evolve our language to incorporate modern items and concepts.

'As with many other ancient and Indigenous languages we sometimes lack terms for certain modern items and concepts, so children struggle to learn the language in a contemporary context. For example, Yugambeh has no natural word for 'refrigerator' or 'telephone' so we must substitute terms that describe those items, such as 'cold place' and 'voice thrower'.

Woolaroo itself is a Yugambeh word—meaning 'picture', which is derived from the word for 'shadow'.

You can find out more about the app on the Woolaroo page of the Google Arts & Culture website. It currently supports 10 global languages including Louisiana Creole, Calabrian Greek, Māori, Nawat, Tamazight, Sicilian, Yang Zhuang, Rapa Nui, Yiddish and Yugambeh.