Te Reo Pūtaiao – Tohunga Rorohiko

23 09 2009

Te Reo Pūtaiao: A Māori Language Dictionary of Science came out earlier this month.  It was compiled using the Freelex / Mātāpuna open source dictionary writing system that I wrote.

Te Reo Pūtaiao is an encyclopedic dictionary; nearly all of the info is in Te Reo Māori, and each entry contains an equivalent English gloss and a definition.  Most entries also have information on the derivation of the term, an detailed explanation often including diagrams, and related terms.  The dictionary covers the lexicon used in teaching the New Zealand Science Curriculum through year 11.

It’s simply brilliant.  It’s funny that I never realised how brilliant it was until actually seeing the finished product.  Working through the database and user interface design, I never really saw the big picture.  But opening up the book caused an “aha moment” for me.  This dictionary has huge potential to make science accessible to Māori kids through Te Reo and tikanga Māori.  If this book is responsible for helping Aotearoa produce even one great scientist, it would have been totally worth the effort.

Kia ora to Ian Christiansen and Shirley Mullaney for having the vision to produce this, and the Ministry of Education for funding it.

I’m listed in the credits as the “Tohunga Rorohiko”, or “Computer Shaman”; this is the second dictionary for which I’ve had this honour. I feel humbled to have the opportunity to work with such experienced  and learned teams on these lexicography projects which will have lasting impact on Te Reo Māori.

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