Wednesday, August 27, 2008

The GUM3C conference in Bangor

The GUM3C conference in Bangor has come and gone. Those who were there, were presented with an exquisite set of presentations. The ambiance was lovely and many of the conversations were thought provoking. This conference was in association with the UNESCO and consequently subjects like sign languages, minority languages and support for people who do not speak a dominant language featured prominently.

One of the discussions was a follow on of the presentation by David Crystal, who among other things presented about his work in the advertisement industry. There were a substantial number of people that agreed that advertisments in minority languages give a language an economic underpinning. Consider, the majority of the trade by Welsh companies is in Wales and people respond more favourable to advertisement that target them.

A presentation by Gwerfyl Roberts was thought provoking. As a practioner in this field she told us that people who do not speak and read the dominant language well, will get substandard medical treatment. Gwerfyl is working hard to improve the situation for the people for whom Welsh is their first language, but she agreed that people from the Indian subcontinent suffer from the same problem. Having the inserts for medicines available in as many languages as possible would be one problem to the solution. Providing terminological support as is currently provided by Wikiprofessional is another.

Sign languages and particularly SignWriting is dear to my heart. I could not be more pleased to have a presentation about sign language in India. Michael Morgan presented on how a university for the deaf is being set up, he explained about the problems that exist in India.. One anecdote was about people texting, not coming to a conclusion and in the end, people traveled two days to come to talk for five minutes.. they had to travel back as well. Chris Cox presented about the efforts that have been put into introducing SignWriting into Britain and Ireland.

When you are interested in all the goodies that you missed, you will be pleased to learn that the proceedings of the GUM3C are already published  ISBN No. 978-1-84220-115-2 and that the presentations will be posted on the GUM3C website..

Wednesday, August 13, 2008

Farsi, is it a macro language ?

According to the ISO-639-3, Farsi is a macro language. From my position it is a clear case as the standard says so, it is likely to be so. Farsi is divided in two, Western Farsi and Eastern Farsi. Western Farsi is spoken primarily in Iran and Eastern Farsi in Afghanistan and Pakistan.

The problem I have is that several people I respect, independently inform me that in their opinion this division is wrong. Farsi is said to be understood by all. Raising this question is for me about something practical. In this case it is about a request for a

Let me be clear, I am all in favour of such a project but I do not want to continue an ambiguity about the language. The practical question is, to what extend is it justified to consider Farsi and Dari as separate languages. When they are indeed to be considered separate languages, how different are they. Can it be compared in a similar way as South African and Dutch?

Please share your thoughts ...