Thursday, April 20, 2006

Microsoft launches isiZulu Language Interface Pack for Windows XP

Microsoft South Africa today announced details of the general availability of the isiZulu Language Interface Pack (LIP) for Windows XP, which forms part of Microsoft’s global local language program.

Speaking at the Sibaya Cultural Centre in eThekwini, Gordon Frazer, managing director of Microsoft South Africa said: “Partnership and collaboration are at the centre of how we do business and through our work with the Pan South African Language Board (PanSALB); the isiZulu National Language Body; national Government through the departments of Education; Communication and Science and Technology amongst others, the academic community; the many translators and the Zulu community; we have aimed to deliver a localisation that is linguistically correct for the South African market.”

Before today's announcement Microsoft provided desktop language coverage for approximately 40 languages. Through the technology available in the Local Language Program and collaboration with local and regional governments, Microsoft plans to add an additional 40 languages in the near future.

“We regard Microsoft’s local language programme as groundbreaking - to assist users with an interface in the languages of their choice and regard this as another important step towards actualising multilingualism,” says Professor Cynthia Marivate, CEO of PanSALB.

Adds Frazer: “We hope to encourage participation in the community and the world beyond, by providing South Africans with access to technology in local vernaculars that not only honours cultural distinctions, but facilitates the preservation of language and culture.”

Standardising technical terminology is an important first step to developing a local IT industry and Microsoft South Africa has worked with academia to translate the core terms glossary for each of the languages in development. With a view to maintaining linguistic excellence, the completed glossaries are sent to the Pan South African Language Board (PanSALB), for verification and the sign-off of the final builds.

“Available as free download, users can install the isiZulu LIP as a layer on top of an existing original version of Windows XP.

“We know that we have a long way to go, to translate our eleven official languages, but are looking forward to announcing Setswana and Afrikaans over the next two months, with a further commitment to additional languages for Windows Vista. We are also working on localizing Microsoft Office in the same manner,” concludes Frazer.

“We look forward to a good working relationship with Microsoft and its local language programme – our partners in the development of functional computing and language skills,” concludes Marivate.

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