Popular social media website, Facebook is available in over 70 languages, and starting today Facebook is available in one more language – Kakchiquel.
Kakchiquel, also spelled Kaqchikel, is a language strongly related linguistically and culturally to Quiché and Tzutujil, which are two more indigenous Guatemalan Mesoamerican languages in the Mayan language family.
Thanks to a team of software engineers in the United States, and with the blessing of Facebook headquarters, Guatemala's Kakchiquel speakers will now have access to the world's second most visited website behind Google, and the meeting place of over 900 million users around the globe. The application, which cost 100 U.S. dollars to create, is being developed for Wuqu' Kawoq Maya Health Alliance, a Guatemala-based non-governmental organization.
Although Spanish is widely spoken in Guatemala, 700,000 indigenous Guatemalans that live in 23 different communities in the Central American country speak Kakchiquel as their native language.
The ability to use Facebook in Kakchiquel "helps preserve our language and identity," Juan Ajsivinac, a Kakchiquel linguist at Guatemala's Academy of Mayan Languages told Guatemalan newspaper, Prensa Libre.
Those who wish to use Facebook in Kakchiquel are instructed to visit Washwuj.com and to download the free application which works in both Mozilla Firefox and Google Chrome web browsers. The domain name for the download, "Washwuj" -means "Facebook" in Kakchiquel.
Don't speak Kakchiquel ? No worries – Facebook is available in various other interesting languages including Pirate English, Leet Speak, Upside down English, Catalan, Esperanto and Latin, among others. To change the language settings on your Facebook account simply log in, click the down arrow in the upper right corner, select "Account Settings" and then the word "Edit" on Language.
Tracy López is a bilingual writer living outside the Washington DC metro area. She is the founder of Latinaish.com.