Uganda gets indigenous language browser

By   |  September 15, 2004

Uganda is today another of the countries that have made huge strides in making technology more accessible to users that do not have English as their home language. ICT Translations Uganda is today officially releasing the Mozilla Web browser in Luganda, one of the most widely spoken indigenous languages in East Africa.

The browser has been christened \”kayungirizi\” by the translators for its ability to link users to various resources on the Internet.

James Wire, a founder of ICT Translations Uganda, says the translation will \”make it easier for first time Internet users to use the Internet without feeling challenged by the English language. It is going to attract many people who have been shying away from computers because of language barriers.\”

He also says the translation efforts will very likely improve education, particularly through the possibilities now of offering interactive computer-based aids in indigenous languages. He also hopes the translation will spur users to develop more local language content.

In an interview with LinuxPlanet earlier this week Wire said \”Internet access is becoming a key element in the lives of all Ugandans. Just like a mobile phone, an Internet café has become the destination of choice for those that want to communicate internationally.

\”A lot of content is delivered to the locals through the use of interactive CDs that display in Internet browsers. A localised browser reduces the learning curve for that social worker in Kyanamukaka who is supposed to sensitise the wanainchi using a computer.\”

Wire says one of the primary challenges in their translation efforts has been the lack of words for much of the widely used English language computer terminology. \”Since Internet technology is a new phenomenon in Uganda, local languages are short of technological terminology … We looked for nearly-there words or actually formulated new terminology. We blended new generation lingua with the \’academic\’ Luganda,\” he says.

ICT Translations Uganda, is an indigenous organisation that hopes to translate a range of free and open source computer software into indigenous languages. Wire says the vision of the organisation is \”to see that the people within the East Africa region embrace and use information and communication technologies to transact in languages they are most conversant with, for accelerated social, political and economic development.\”

Next on the agenda for ICT Translations Uganda is a number of other indigenous language translations of Mozilla and then work will begin on translating OpenOffice.org into indigenous languages starting with Luganda and Luo. Following this the team hopes to work on translating the X-Windows interface and localise a range of applications.

The translated software is available from www.translate.or.ug

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