On Buwan ng Wika, Google adds Baybayin on GBoard, Cebuano on Word Lens

By: Neil Arwen Mercado of Inquirer.net August 29,2019 - 07:26 PM

MANILA, Philippines — You can now use Baybayin and other indigenous scripts when searching through Gboard, as well as translate Cebuano words using Word Lens.

Google launched these new features Thursday in culmination of the month of August, the country’s National Language Month or Buwan ng Wika.

Gabby Roxas, Marketing Head of Google Philippines, said that the latest features seek to preserve the country’s local languages and indigenous script in view of the continuously growing age of technology.

“At Google, we are committed to helping preserve the country’s local languages and scripts through relevant technology. Adding more Filipino languages and scripts on helpful products like Translate and Board is one of the many ways we show this commitment,” Roxas said at the launch of the new features at the Google Philippines headquarters in Bonifacio Global City, Taguig City.

Native scripts on GBoard

Four indigenous scripts namely Baybayin, Tagbanwa, Buhid, and Hanunuo were added to Google’s Gboard, an application that allows users to use the Google search engine and send results to another person straight from their messaging application’s keyboards.

If Gboard is installed, users no longer have to leave their messaging applications to make a Google search as they can do so by just clicking on the Google icon on their keyboards.

With the latest features, users can use Baybayin and other indigenous scripts to make their search.

“We just announced that our four indigenous scripts are now available on Gboard. It’s our way of showing how technology can be used to honor, to celebrate, and to preserve our local languages and native scripts,” Mervin Wenke, Communications and Public Affairs lead of Google Philippines told INQUIRER.net at the sidelines of the event.

Cebuano now on Word Lens

Picture yourself traveling in the beautiful city of Cebu.

While you are enjoying the good food and sites in the city, you got lost while walking around and all you see are signages written in Cebuano.

With the new Word Lens update, one can easily point their camera on the signage and the feature will translate the Cebuano words or phrases to the language of your choice.

Word Lens is a feature within the Google Translate application that provides instant translation of words or phrases foreign to the user only with the use of their cameras.

Word Lens now allows users to translate 88 languages into 100 languages and these translations may not be necessarily to or from the English language.

Both Gboard and Google Translate are available on Play Store and App Store.

Preservation of culture

Baybayin advocate and calligraphist Ian “Taipan” Lucero underscored the importance of preserving the country’s culture, including keeping indigenous scripts alive.

“Yung mga ninuno natin ang kanilang teknolohiya noon ay pag-uukit sa kawayan at sa dahon at ang teknolohiya naman natin ngayon ay mostly sa ating mga smartphone at ating mga computer. [Kung] bibigyan tayo ng gantong teknolohiya na napakadaling gamitin, ating maii-celebrate or mabibigyang buhay sa modernong panahon ang ating totoong kultura,” Lucero told INQUIRER.net during the sidelines of the launch.

Lucero also said that while it is unavoidable to not use foreign language especially in business set-ups, there are other means to show one’s love and respect for the country’s culture.

“Sana tuloy-tuloy nating bigyan ng pagmamahal at respeto ang ating kultura, hindi lang sa Buwan ng Wika kundi sa araw-araw… May mga paraan din naman ng pagpupugay sa ating kultura at ating wika na pwede nating gawin tulad ng aralin natin ang Baybayin bigyan natin ng pagmamahal ito,” he said.

During the launch, guests were also educated on the history of Baybayin as well as a crash course on Baybayin writing.

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