One of the biggest challenges to preserving indigenous languages is changing the social attitudes towards these languages. The youth often associate indigenous languages with being backward and antimodern and their use hinders acceptance in their peer-group. To put it succinctly, indigenous languages not are perceived as being “cool”. Nonetheless, using the computing technology in PCs, tablets, cell phones and the internet is perceived as being progressive and modern among the youth. These negative social attitudes toward indigenous languages can be changed by translating software and games into indigenous languages and by creating electronic dictionaries for indigenous languages.
We created the project Runasimipi Qespisqa Software to translated free/open source software into Quechua and publish Quechua dictionaries online in order to help promote the use Quechua, especially among the youth who are more technically savvy. I explained these ideas in a talk entitled “Using technology to change social attitudes toward indigenous languages in the Andes,” which I gave at the University of the Pacific in Stockholm, California on December 2, 2008. The presentation from my talk is available here: PDF (Acrobat), ODP (LibreOffice/OpenOffice)