Hmong elder, Chue Her, came to the Central Valley from Laos about 30 years ago. Hmong is the main language in his household, but he's having a hard time teaching his grandchildren the language.
“I believe when they grow up, they will not speak Hmong. They won't know their culture. They won't know their language they should speak. I think it's very important for them,” said Her.
He and his family are not alone. Fresno State University outreach counselor, Phong Yang, says a number of Hmong families in the U.S. are losing their language.
“Without language, a culture will disappear,” said Yang.
That's why he and several others from the Valley have teamed up with Microsoft. They just launched an online Hmong translator. Yang said, “The translator is just another way of providing that extra support to preserve the language, the culture, in certain aspects.”
Hmong has joined 37 other languages on the website. Words, phrases, even entire documents can be translated on the site. Yang explained, “People can actually use the tool as a widget which will show up on their website, on any website.”
The Hmong translator also powers a new phone application.
They are new tools Her is grateful for. He expressed, “Big help. It will help the younger generation, help the elders.”
Two of the main Hmong dialects are Hmong White and Hmong Green. Hmong White is the language available on the site right now. Yang says they are still working on putting together a translator for the Hmong Green language.
You can access the online translator at www.MicrosoftTranslator.com. We've also put a link on our website. Just click on News Links.