ELL: On software for Basque and other lgs ("support")

Matthew McDaniel akha at loxinfo.co.th
Wed Jul 14 19:06:23 UTC 1999

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		 Date: Wed, 14 Jul 1999 19:06:23 +0000
		 From: Matthew McDaniel <akha at loxinfo.co.th>
		 Organization: The Akha Heritage Foundation
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		 Subject: Re: ELL: On software for Basque and other lgs
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		 Does anyone know how much work it would take to make an auto
		 translator that could
		 take an Akha text and make it into english or english into

		 Matthew McDaniel

		 Trond Trosterud wrote:

> >Marion Gunn wrote:
> >
> >> Scr.bh Trond Trosterud <Trond.Trosterud at hum.uit.no>:
> >> >...
> >> >Seen in this perspective the question of who paid for what is
> >subordinate.
> >> >All other  lgs with small or poor user communities should be glad for
> >the
> >> >achievements of Basque and Icelandic this spring. I would like to see
> >some
> >> >concrete discussion on this list as to #how# this was achieved, and
> >#how#
> >
> >I have nothing against MS or whatever other company. But this is not, in my
> >opinion, the best way to promote the use of endangered languages through
> >the
> >use of telematic means. If all the promotional actions are to subcontract
> >big
> >companies to translate their almost "monopolistic" tools, forget your
> >national
> >lg industries, if ther is any.
> Lgs do not have industries, countries do, and industry owners, gr.ders, etc.
> May I remind you about basic statistics: Lgs, ordered acc to speakers,
> >lg. nr:
> 1-100: more than 6 mill speakers
> 100-1000: more than 90000 speakers
> 1000-2000: more than 15000 sp.
> -4000: more than 1000 sp
> the rest less than 1000 sp
> How many of these speaker communities are able to make #their own software
> industry#? And, if they had had the resources, why on earth should they do
> anything as dull as inventing a word processor, when we already have plenty
> of them? The few resources that are avilable must be used wisely, small lgs
> are fighting an uneven enough battle as it is.
> I do not want to streghten ms.s monopoly situation. But the way ms.s
> products are organised today is good: The natural lg commands are separated
> from the program code, which makes translation easy. Otherwise it is not
> easy. msword is so huge and complex and #expensive# that most poor min lg
> communities probably want to prefer linux-based os-s (or other free
> solutions) and lighter software (provided that lighter, linux-based
> software separated text and code in a more transparent way, thereby making
> translation easier).
> >Minority lgs need a clear strategy to survive developing their own
> >industries
> >with the help, or not, of big companies and with the help, by sure, of
> >their
> >local administrations.
> Countries, counties and communities need develop their industry, that is
> for sure. When it comes to lg-related software industry I would suggest
> that you started producing the following products:
> localisation (characters and keyboards, already present for basque, I guess)
> large computer corpora (text collections) in your own lg
> hyphenation algorithms
> spell checker programs (I will present a report on own work within this
> area shortly)
> synonymy programs, thesauri
> morphology and syntax parsers
> information retrieval programs etc.
> translations of existing programs into your own lg
> (and of course general tools: monolignual dictionaries, grammars, reverse
> dictionaries, etc)
> This should be done in a way that makes it easy (both legally and
> technically) to use these basic tools in different end products (different
> spreadsheets, word processors, etc)
> This is what only the lg community (and partly also outsider linguists) can
> do. Never mind fixing the bugs that makes your word processor interpret rtf
> and gif correctly, and stacking endnotes right. If basque and other people
> want to make money on making word processors for the world marked, that is
> fine with me. But if they want to do work to strengthen their lg, they
> should rather go through the list above (among other things, of course).
> >As far as I know, most of endangered lgs lack of local administrations able
> >to
> >help them, so, are they condemmned to loose their technology train and also
> >their lg?. For, as far as I see, they will not able to subcontract a big
> >company and neither to promote their own industry.
> This is exactly my point. We must thus suggest to vendors of cheaper
> products (and shareware and freeware hackers) that they streamline their
> software for multilingual conversion. Thereafter, even the poorest lg
> community is rich enough to spend the most basic capital: #time#. native
> linguists may translate the shareware into their own lg, and there yor are.
> >Rapid convergence of hitherto separate technologies are already changing
> >the
> >nature of work and organisations. Versatile applications of existing and
> >emerging technologies are being demonstrated in educational and training
> >situation and it is no longer possible to ignore serious consideration of
> >their
> >deployment in the minority languages.
> ???
> One example of this was reported by Jeff: a basque version of an existing
> application of a well-known technology (windows 95) was made. So where is
> the disagreement?
> And again: Although we on this list deal with computers daily, perhaps even
> make programs or use alternative technologies, for min lg administrations
> (like the S.i one here in Norway) it is important to use exactly the same
> programs as the rest. And I do not want the lack of microsoft products to
> be used as an argument against min lgs. Disney videos in min lgs would be a
> good idea, as would pornography magazines, etc.
> >We, in GAIA, based on our experience in this field and according to the
> >lack of
> >beneficial results in the different program implementation for minority
> >languages, have based our strategy in those three different lines:
> >
> >1. Marketing of Minority Languages.
> >2. Concretion of the role of the Education Centres.
> >3. Build up an important industry sector of marketable IT and Multimedia
> >products addressed to minority languages.
> Splendid, all of this.
> But again, when it comes to your third line, there are other "marketable IT
> and Multimedia products" on the marked, and the largest of them are
> precisely the ones that are "adressed to" (i.e. translated into) the
> largest number of languages. Thus, large efforts to conquer parts of this
> marked on an international scale could draw your attention away from your
> primary goal: strenghening the basque lg, making products for basque (or
> even more general: making the lg component of software products).
> >This approach does not mean to  subcontract any tool. That means short
> >term.
> ??
> The best must not be the enemy of the good.
> Personally, I see the advantages of both the short and the long terms. At
> least, I do not want to tell #any# min lg revitalisation administration
> that "unfortunately you must delay the writing of your lg for a couple of
> years, until we have developed a long-term software solution".
> So, for short vs. long, I say: Yes, please, both of them! (Winnie-the-Pooh).
> >Our language has survived to a lot of problems, among them a strong
> >dictatorship, we are taking advantage of  different programmes to finance
> >our
> >activities in that field. And it if is not easy for us, eventhough we can
> >count
> >with our administration, what about other languages?.
> Precisely. Any solution is a good solution. Thereafter, better solutions
> are better than worse.
> >We look forward hearing about other experiences and also about other
> >institutions eager to participate in our different lines of working.
> >Jokin
> As I see it, there is no disagreement when it comes to your strategy.
> Whatever is possible to do should be done, except perhaps from reinventing
> the wheel.
> As I already mentioned, I will present experiences from work on S.i, that
> can be transferred to other lgs as well, shortly.
> Trond.
> -------------------------------------------------------------------
> Trond Trosterud                                     t +47 7764 4763
> Finsk institutt, Det humanistiske fakultet          h +47 7767 3639
> N-9037 Universitetet i Troms. Noreg                f +47 7764 4239
> Trond.Trosterud at hum.uit.no  http://www2.isl.uit.no/trond/index.html
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Matthew McDaniel
The Akha Heritage Foundation
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