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FOSS and Localization: Translate.org.za and Bisharat.net

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  • Janet Feldman
    Dear Folks, An interesting article on FOSS and localization...check out the following urls: http://www.bisharat.net http://www.translate.org.za FYI, an article
    Message 1 of 1 , Mar 13, 2006
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      Dear Folks,
      An interesting article on FOSS and localization...check out the following urls:
       
       
      FYI, an article from Tectonic on Dwayne Bailey's comments at the SangoNet
      conference about FOSS and localization...

      Don Osborn
      Bisharat.net
      PanAfrican Localisation Project
      Projet panafricain sur la localisation



      Changing the world, one word at a time
      By Richard Frank
      http://www.tectonic.co.za/view.php?src=rss&id=911
      10 March, 2006

      Head of Translate.org.za, Dwayne Bailey, called on civil society to help
      localise software, and push proprietary firms to do likewise, at the Sangonet
      "ICTs for Civil Society" conference in Johannesburg this week.

      Translate.org.za recently completed translating OpenOffice.org 2.0 into South
      Africa's eleven official languages ? a major achievement that Bailey believes
      is prompting proprietary firms like Microsoft to look more closely at the needs
      of non-English speakers. "I do believe that helped stimulate the proprietary
      industry to start localising their software," he says.

      Localisation is not only about translation. "It embraces things like making sure
      software in South Africa uses date formats that are not silly? like American
      ones," says Bailey. It can also include special currency formats and calendars.
      (Ethiopians, for instance, use the Julian calendar instead of the Gregorian
      calendar.)

      After hearing Microsoft national technology officer, Potlaki Maine, tell
      delegates that Redmond was training teachers in Africa, Bailey responded: "I
      pray that they will train teachers to use a tool and not a product."

      "When you write a document in a word processor, is it about the word-processing
      software or is it about actually writing a document that you can share?" he
      asks.

      Although still involved in localising software, Translate.org.za is focusing on
      creating tools that help the open source community translate other programs.

      Pootle is a web-based translation tool that enables communities to work together
      to translate an application. Bailey has used it at "translate-athons", where a
      number of translators rally to achieve a common goal. "We translated a
      web-browser in a weekend into Xhosa using this technique," he says.

      Bailey also used Translate.org.za as a case study of how civil society can use
      open source software to achieve their aims.

      "So David triumphed over Goliath with a sling and a stone; without a sword in
      his hand he struck down Goliath and killed him," says Bailey, quoting from the
      Bible.

      "Goliath is not who you think it is. As NGOs we're often fighting formidable
      things, but actually Translate is an example of a small NGO actually achieving
      potentially massive change. And the reason why we've achieved that is through
      open source software."


       

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