Thanks, Edward. I think we are in agreement in the points you make, and I appreciate the examples.
Just for clarification, the line you respond to was written by Guido Sohne. He also made the interesting attempt to gauge potential interest in ICT localization by the existence or not of newspapers in Ghanaian languages. I brought up an example and in the time since my reply (written in April, though posted to the list earlier this month) found reference to two periodicals that are (or used to be - haven't been able to verify) published in Akan: Nkwantabisa and Akwansosem. It is also useful to consider how localization fares in other parts of the continent. From various contacts in recent years, and the recent PanAfrican Localisation workshop, it is clear that there is popular interest and a generally positive reaction. There are lots of stories and anecdotes. That said, I always try to keep in mind the observations of Russell Bernard (U. Florida cultural & linguistic anthropologist) re attitudes of people in a community to the use of their first language: Basically there is generally a range of opinions. People on the outside - both those favoring localization and those dismissing it - tend to overlook this important fact. In Africa I think that those who are more interested in using their first language may be less likely to actively express this or even to admit it, hence it's easy to get the impression that no one is interested. The languages often have low status, and people are socialized to think of anything new and technological being in English, French, or other tongues originating in Europe, so it might not even occur to some that their first languages might be used in novel, productive, and even high-tech ways. This arguably has a big impact on all spheres of development, not just ICT. In any event, the existence of a diversity of opinions in language communities is not a reason to temper or reduce efforts to localize. It meets a need or desire on the part of some, may awaken an interest in others (the latent interest you mention is here), and provides an option for all. Part of the advantage of localization is to open up new dimensions of use of the technology. Africa is multilingual, with different languages being used in different ways even by the same people. Why shouldn't ICT be the same way? Or put differently, what are the costs to the usefulness and effectiveness of ICT4D in Africa of limiting it to English and French? (No one of course is suggesting that we remove the English or French versions from systems in Africa - the nature of ICT is additive, after all.) I mentioned a range of opinions on language use and utility within a community. There is another level to consider that is vitally important - that of the country (and region) as a whole. In particular, governments have a key role in setting language policy and this has a big impact on education and ICT. One Ghanaian correspondant recently wrote that the Ghanaian government is "anti local language." I'm seeking clarification as to whether this refers to specific legislation or just a reflection of attitudes among the urban elite. But either way it could put a damper (at least) not only on localization but also other endeavors such as, say, newspapers - or even news pages - in the indigenous languages. Localization of course is not done in a vacuum. With a background in environment and development, I tend to look for the interacting elements of a system. One can speak of the language/linguistic ecology of a society (and indeed the term "linguistic ecology" is in use), or even of the social or political - or linguistic - ecology of localization. So, even if one were to undertake localization for its own sake (not the general rule) one would still depend on a range of other factors from technical assistance, coding to translate, language specialists, funding of some sort, leadership/vision towards a sustainable effort, etc. But localization of living languages also has a purpose, a potential community of users, and various potential impacts outside the telecenter, cybercafe or school. When we talk of localization in Africa, therefore, we are talking about a process that needs not only motivated speakers of the languages in question, but also a supportive environment including governments, development organizations, local computer and FOSS groups, universities, etc. (And why not, even big business too.) I guess at this point the burden is still primarily on the localizers to demonstrate what is possible (as they are beginning to already, from keyboards to full software suites). But it's important that the fruit of the "early" efforts be brought into various ICT4D and ICT for education projects for evaluation, demonstration, and feedback. I'll stop here as I'm starting to ramble on, but will leave you and the group with the (not terribly original, but still important) thought that the next several years will see some very interesting developments in the multilingualization of ICT, especially as 1) localization developers become more numerous, 2) hardware miniaturizes and the links among different types of systems (computers, handhelds, even radio) become ever easier and more commonplace, and 3) software for transformation of language(s) becomes more sophisticated and accurate (TTS/STT, MT). Localization in African languages (at least the major ones) is no longer a question of "if" or even really of "when," but more one of "how" and more so of "how well." Thanks again and we look forward to communicating more with you (and others) on this subject. Don Osborn Bisharat.net On 6/24/05, Edward Cherlin <[EMAIL PROTECTED]> wrote: > On Friday, 10 June 2005, Donald Z. Osborn wrote: > > > There is not a huge demand for local language applications right now. > > The claim that there is no demand for a product is quite often wrong, > especially when based on supposition rather than investigation.... > > In every case involving language support in software that I have > investigated, there is huge latent demand, but it is not expressed > openly because everybody knows they can't get it yet. ..snip... ------------ ***GKD is solely supported by EDC, a Non-Profit Organization*** To post a message, send it to: <[EMAIL PROTECTED]> To subscribe or unsubscribe, send a message to: <[EMAIL PROTECTED]>. In the 1st line of the message type: subscribe gkd OR type: unsubscribe gkd Archives of previous GKD messages can be found at: <http://www.edc.org/GLG/gkd/>