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Promoting the Navajo language, with a little help from an internet megahit

Medical Pharmaceutical Translations • Jan 14, 2020 12:00:00 AM

Many of the world’s languages are endangered. This means that they’re at risk of being replaced by a more dominant language in the area, and have few native speakers still living.

Fortunately, there are a number of ways to help a language thrive and attract new speakers. Here’s an unconventional one that involves a viral children’s song: The Navajo Nation Museum asked language learning platform StudySmart to collaborate on a translation of the earworm “Baby Shark” into the Navajo language. A language with only 150,000 living speakers, surrounded by a more dominant language (English), Navajo is considered “vulnerable” by UNESCO.

The video of “Łóó’ Hashkéii Awéé” (the song’s Navajo title) currently has more than half a million views on YouTube. Whether or not this will popularize learning the language among young members of the Navajo Nation and in other places around the world, remains to be seen. But efforts like this, as well as translating other pop culture icons like “Star Wars IV: A New Hope” into Navajo, may just pay off.

Read on to learn more about creating the Navajo version of “Baby Shark”’.

And if you want to hear it (I’m pretty sure you doo doo doo doo doo), here’s a link to the video.

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