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Ugandan students translate Firefox

By   |  August 14, 2008

Students and linguists from Makerere University have translated the open source web browser, Mozilla Firefox, into Luganda at a Translate@thon held on the campus in Kampala, Uganda last week.

The two-day gathering brought together almost 200 students and allowed them to make a practical contribution to their language’s presence in the digital age.

The Translate@thon was a partnership between Makerere University, Rhodes University and, originators of the Translate@thon concept. created the Translate@thon concept and the translation software that allows hundreds of people to translate simultaneously.

Researchers from Rhodes had the idea to run a Translate@thon to coincide with a conference held in Uganda.

The Translate@thon concept has been used in similar events across South Africa. It involves bringing a number of mother tongue speakers together to translate a piece of software into their language.

The students made use of a web-based translation tool called Pootle to make it possible for all 200 students to translate simultaneously. After translating key aspects of the software they spent a large amount of time correcting technical and language errors.

A lot of work remains on the translations, the use of terms needs to be clarified, technical issues need to be resolved but as it stands the product is usable by a Luganda speaker.

A beta test release of the translated software is available from:

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4 Responses to “Ugandan students translate Firefox”

  1. Dwayne Bailey
    August 14th, 2008 @ 1:56 pm

    Seems like we actually had almost 300 people there!

  2. Dwayne Bailey
    August 14th, 2008 @ 2:02 pm

    Also important to mention is that this work started with a migration of the old Mozilla Suite translations to Firefox 3.0. The original translations were spearheaded by Wire Lungabo, who many Tectonic readers will know, manager of Linux Solutions in Uganda.

  3. Ugandan Students Translating Firefox into Local Languages - Appfrica
    August 14th, 2008 @ 2:44 pm

    […] I’ve written quite a few posts on Appfrica in the past on computational linguistics and the potential for using the local languages of African users. Because literacy and multi-lingualism tend to be huge problems in African regions where education standards are poor, using local languages would potentially be a way to increase computer use among local users. At Makerere University in Kampala, Uganda, students have undertaken an impressive project, translating Mozilla Firefox 3 into the local Ugandan language of Luganda. […]

  4. Africans are Doing IT for Themselves « Saucy Sourcing
    August 23rd, 2008 @ 4:18 pm

    […] article on Tectonic reporting the event explained the achievement by saying that the students’ work and […]

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