ATMs in Hawaii Learn to Say “Aloha Mai”

Back in December we blogged about a project called Ike Kū‘oko‘a which aims to transcribe 60,000 pages of digital Hawaiian language newspaper text into searchable typescript. Some of the newspapers date back as far as 1834, and project organizers see them as a valuable resource for examining the history, culture and language of Hawaii over the past two centuries.

Today I heard about another interesting use for these newspapers: the Bank of Hawaii has mined them to find terminology used in banking ads. Why? The Bank is about to become the first bank ever to include a Hawaii language option at its ATMs. Over the course of the summer, the bank plans to enable more than 400 ATMs to conduct Hawaiian language transactions.

The move has been getting praise from proponents of Hawaiian language and culture. Peter Apo, a trustee of the Office of Hawaiian Affairs was quoted by Maui Now as saying, “It’s a milestone event that recognizes the Hawaiian language as a relevant form of mainstream communication.” Others have made the point that when people include Hawaiian in their day-to-day lives it helps ensure that it remains a living language.

Kudos to the Bank of Hawaii for their efforts!

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