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iOS 4.1 quietly added Cherokee language support

The Associated Press reports that Apple has quietly incorporated Cherokee language support into iOS. Cherokee tribal officials were worried about the demise of the Cherokee language as the tribe aged and its younger members increasingly adopted the English language -- and iPhones. However, instead of seeing technology as a threat, Cherokee tribal leaders opened talks with Apple three years ago about including native support for the Cherokee language in iOS.

This fall, Apple replied to the Cherokees' request and announced that it was adding the Cherokee language to the roughly 50 languages supported by iOS. Apple's announcement was a surprise to Joseph Erb, who works in the Cherokee Nation's language technology division. He told the AP, "There are countries vying to get on these devices for languages, so we are pretty excited we were included."

The written Cherokee language was created over 200 years ago when a blacksmith named Sequoyah converted the spoken Cherokee language into text. Use of the language has diminished in recent decades. Only 8,000 of the 290,000 members of the Cherokee tribe still speak the language -- a number the tribe hopes to increase with a little help from Apple.

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