Andy, Thanks for posting this. Here are a few quick comments. Though the article
does reflect the increasing interest in African language use in software and
web content, it also seems a little off or incomplete on some aspects.

First, one has the impression that among commercial software interests,
Microsoft, at least, is actually pursuing localization for various major
African languages - for commercial reasons.

On the other hand, there have been ICT4D efforts in Africa that have consciously
ignored African languages. The reasons for this are a little complex (as are
the sociolinguistics of the region and the issues surrounding language
policies), but the matter of extended alphabets (using characters or diacritics
beyond what are provided for in the Western character set) for many languages
especially in West and Central Africa has been given as one.

Third, the orthographies for many languages are not new. See for instance some
of the documents at (esp. 1930, 1966, 1978).
What is new is discussion about how Unicode/ISO-10646 provides for African
character needs, and it is on this as I understand it, that the African Academy
of Languages (ACALAN) is working. Although Unicode is designed to facilitate
all transcription needs of all languages (as daunting as it may seem it makes a
world of sense and it already permits a lot, including for African languages)
just how it handles certain things like tone marks important in some languages
and other diacritics is a concern. 

Finally, the meeting in Accra - or more precisely a workshop on African
languages and OSS - picked up on some themes that were discussed in a workshop
on African languages and the internet at the earlier WSIS prepcom in Bamako in
2002, among them the need for African linguists on one hand and ICT experts on
the other to work together more. The report from the Bamako 2002 workshop and
the agenda (no report yet?) from the one in Accra earlier this month can be
accessed from the same page indicated above.

Don Osborn

Quoting Andy Carvin <[EMAIL PROTECTED]>:

>  From -ac
> Local Languages Demand More Space on the Internet
> A bid to have African languages join the likes of English and French in 
> the Internet is being blocked by information experts from the West as 
> lacking in commercial value.
> A group of African linguistics and technology experts at a recent 
> African Regional Preparatory Conference for the World Summit on 
> Information Society (WSIS) in Accra, Ghana, say they have already 
> developed special characters that can now help these languages be used 
> on the World Wide Web.
> They argue that the use of languages such as English has played a big 
> role in the development of Western countries.
> Another reason the Westerners are opposed to African languages being put 
> on the Web, they say is their structure with some having characters and 
> sounds in their alphabet that are not recognisable in the coding system 
> of the Internet.
> Therefore, the continent should continue expressing itself through 
> appropriate languages in social and economic development.
> <snip>
> -- 
> -----------------------------------
> Andy Carvin
> Program Director
> EDC Center for Media & Community
> acarvin @ edc . org
> Blog:
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