Thursday, May 8, 2008

Supporting languages that do not have localisation

Yesterday I had the privilege to present at a workshop in Milan for the ISO. The workshop discussed how ISO will continue its development in the 21th century. A whole day was filled with a mix of people inside and outside of ISO providing their point of view how the world is changing and many kinds of new technology are becoming available and relevant that have the potential to change the current practices at ISO.

Bob Sutor, the IBM vice president for Standards and Open Source opened and discussed everything from Wikis to Second Life. It was a great speech and it opened up the floor for the presenters that followed really well.

The WLDC is about languages and with Debbie's permission, she had seen my presentation ahead of time, I had included the WLDC as a way to establish that I am truly committed to do good for languages.. What we want to do in the WLDC is making a document languages and make a difference by doing this. To help us realise this, I approached Mr Sutor and asked him if IBM could be interested in giving languages a presence in the user interface provided by GNOME or KDE.

This is of a great practical importance; when you write Neapolitan for instance, you do not want an Italian spell checker telling you that what you have written is spelled is incorrectly. The localisation of software is an expensive and time consuming business, it is not realistic to expect that all languages, linguistic entities will be localised. It is however feasible to make Gnome or KDE aware of the language that is used for a document. This is the first step to ensure that this document will be tagged in its meta data appropriately to the language that is used.

I am sure that you know more great arguments why a practical application like this will be of a much bigger benefit then is immediately apparent. So please pitch in with suggestions so that we will be able to produce the proposal that Mr Sutor and IBM just cannot refuse :)

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