08 April 2008

The Yakuts Have an Word for IT

Readers of this blog probably take for granted a crucial freedom that open source software makes possible: that of being able to use your own language for computing. If you think this isn't a problem with proprietary software, even for well-known nations, just ask the Icelanders:

When Microsoft refused to produce an Icelandic version of Windows '98, on the grounds that the market was too small, Iceland's Ministry of Education and Culture threatened legal action. Microsoft relented.

Unbelievably, that was just ten years ago, and although Microsoft has improved since then, it's done so largely because open source has forced it to by showing what can be done. And still free software reaches the (linguistic) parts other software cannot.

For example, it's probably not a good idea to hold your breath until Microsoft comes out with a version of its software that can accommodate the Yakut language, but free software is already on the case:

В ходе этих встреч было подписано соглашение между фирмой ALT Linux и ЦНИТ ЯГУ о научно-техническом сотрудничестве и на ЦНИТ ЯГУ была возложена функция представительства ALT Linux в области образования по республике Саха (Якутия). В то же время был обсужден вопрос о внедрении якутских шрифтов в операционную систему ALT Linux с целью продвижения и широкого использования продукции ALT Linux.

[Via Google Translate:

During these meetings, an agreement was signed between the company and ALT Linux TSNIT YAGU on scientific and technical cooperation and on the New YAGU was responsible representation ALT Linux in education in the republic of Sakha (Yakutia). At the same time, discussed the implementation of fonts in the Yakut ALT Linux operating system to promote the production and extensive use of ALT Linux.]

Update: More here.

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