OHAI Creates Cherokee Software

Houston, Texas, November 11, 2005 – It is now easy to type Cherokee, thanks to OHAI Technologies and the Rice University Linguistics Department.

Georgia, 1809: A Cherokee silversmith named Sequoyah began creating the “Talking Leaves” – a writing system for the Cherokee language.  In 1821, 12 years from the original idea, the Cherokee nation adopted Sequoyah''s alphabet and within months thousands of Cherokee were literate.

Fast-forward 184 years to Houston’s Rice University Linguistics Department where a graduate student and a visiting scholar from a software company create a way to type the Cherokee writing system easily!

The graduate student - Chris Koops - has conducted linguistic research on the Cherokee language for the past 2½ years.  In October, Chris attended a colloquium given by Daniel Mailman, visiting scholar in the department and CEO of OHAI Technologies – a Houston-based software company.

The colloquium was about “Software Technologies that Make Typing Foreign Languages Easier”.  After the colloquium, Chris showed Daniel the difficulties of typing the “Talking Leaves”.  That conversation led to Chris and Daniel collaborating to create oCherokee – software that actually makes it easy to type the written Cherokee language.

According to Chris: “The basic challenge with typing the Cherokee syllabary is that the characters represent syllables – and not sounds, as in the English alphabet.  That means that there are a lot more characters than our 26 letters.  Previous input systems were difficult to use and time-consuming to learn, as they required the user to memorize the position of over 80 keys. OHAI makes it possible to write the Cherokee syllabary without any memorization at all.”

Daniel says: “This was an extremely fun project that shows how fast and easy it is for scholars and software developers to make typing systems for any language.  oCherokee isn’t a commercial language product like oChinese, oVietnamese, and our other language products.  Nevertheless, we feel that there is social merit to the project, and that it is very much in keeping our commitment to “21st Century Literacy”.

OHAI plans to make oCherokee freely available to linguists, scholars, and students of Cherokee.

ABOUT OHAI TECHNOLOGIES:
OHAI’s input tools make it easy to type foreign languages.  OHAI’s products close the productivity gap for many languages including Chinese, Vietnamese, Spanish, and many other European languages.  Our products enable our customers to use their computers in their language their way – quickly, easily and accurately!
OHAI is a Houston Technology Center Client Company.

Houston Technology Center
Houston Technology Center (HTC) is a business accelerator that assists Houston-based emerging technology companies in key sectors such as: Energy, Information Technology, Life Sciences, Nanotechnology and NASA-originated technologies.  See www.houstontech.org for more information.

Author: Tweed Courtney
Phone: (713) 521-1340
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