2 down how man to go?

Andre Cramblit andrekar at NCIDC.ORG
Mon Sep 29 17:03:53 UTC 2003

Microsoft translates software into African languages

A software tool that will help computer programs to be translated into
six African languages has been developed by Microsoft.

Zulu and Afrikaans programs are ready for demonstration after three
months of work by six members of Microsoft's technical team. The other
languages in development are Setswana, Xhosa, Swahili and Sepedi.

The software makes it easier for people speaking indigenous languages to
get to grips with technology.

"During the last decade, we have seen the impact of technology in
building South Africa into a socioeconomic leader in Africa. We believe
there are no limits to the potential South Africans can reach if
equipped with the information and communication tools in their language
of choice," said Gordon Frazer, managing director of Microsoft South

Khetsi Lehoko, deputy director-general in the national Education
Department, said the development was appreciated particularly because
computers were tools of learning. "It will contribute to the overall
development of indigenous languages and raise their status," he said.

Moss Gondwe, Microsoft's director for the public sector, said: "We
struggled with terminology, like what to call the Internet in Zulu.
Months of the year in Zulu would be difficult for urban kids to
understand. We haven't finalised the terminology yet but we are looking
to the public to make suggestions."

He said the idea started when they looked at certain European countries
that used indigenous languages.

"We looked at France - people there can go into Windows and they are
able to communicate in their own language. We thought it was imperative
that we also develop local languages in order to address the
population's communication needs," said Gondwe.

Government departments and academics at universities were also consulted
during the translation.

"We couldn't develop local languages on our own. We had to involve the
Department of Arts, Culture, Science and Technology and the Department
of Communications. Potchefstroom University was very helpful with
Afrikaans terminology," said Gondwe.

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