October 4, 2017 | Visit Faroe Islands
The tiny Faroe Islands – 18 islands in the North Atlantic, located between the Shetlands, Iceland and Norway – are once again taking on giant Google in a bid to have their unique language included on Google Translate. They have created their very own Faroe Islands Translate.
With less than 80,000 people speaking Faroese worldwide, and a growing tourism market, the Faroe Islands realise that not being included on Google Translate has frustrated visitors who can’t fully immerse in their unique traditional culture by learning a few phrases in Faroese.
Creating their very own version of the online translation service, with the help of locals who will translate live by video, Faroe Islands Translate will provide a free online service for those visiting the destination or, in fact, anyone around the world curious to learn a little of this unusual language.
From sheep farmers to school teachers, chefs to social workers, this initiative provides an opportunity to see the friendly Faroese before visiting, and to gain a window on to their magical world.
Lisa í Dali is one local person who has volunteered to help. A student at the University of the Faroe Islands by day, Lisa will be on hand to help translate words and phrases sent in by people all around the world. Lisa’s favourite Faroese phrase is “um tær ikki dámar veðrið, bíða so bara í 5 minuttir” which means “if you don’t like the weather, just wait five minutes”.
By visiting the new website, and typing the words to be translated into the Faroe Islands Translate search box, the translation will be made by a local volunteer like Lisa. A video will be sent back meaning that people will not only be able to learn the words in Faroese but also to see and hear a local speaking the language.
Last year, the Faroese petitioned Google to be featured on Google Street View by creating their own version, using cameras mounted on the backs of sheep. Calling it Sheep View, the campaign gained worldwide interest, reaching the attention of the tech giant and eventually succeeding in its aim.
Now fully on the map, and welcoming a significantly higher number of tourists in the past year, the Faroe Islands are launching another David and Goliath mission. The Faroes’ Prime Minister, Aksel V. Johannesen, has joined the local people to lend his voice to the campaign, recording an open letter to Google in a special video message, delivered directly to Google, petitioning them to consider his nation’s plight.
Faroe Islands Translate Project Manager, Levi Hanssen of Visit Faroe Islands, explains why the islanders took matters into their own hands,
“Whilst most Faroese people speak good English, we have a beautiful language of our own that we would love to share with those who visit, and with the wider world in general. When travelling in most countries, tourists can use Google Translate to help them to communicate with local people and to feel as if they are a true part of the destination that they’re visiting. Sadly, in the Faroe Islands, this isn’t currently possible – and we want to change that.
“We’re taking matters into our own hands and enlisting a whole host of local Faroese people to allow us to help those who want to learn a little Faroese. In doing so, we will also build up a video database that visually and audibly logs the Faroese language, something that’s never been done before. Our dream is to have Google Translate but, in the meantime, we will have our self-made Faroe Islands Translate!”
For more information, and to try Faroe Islands Translate, visit www.faroeislandstranslate.com.