Tuesday, November 28, 2006

A new language on the Internet ?

I received a mail that was forwarded to me by Martin Benjamin (the Kamusi project). The mail was by a gentleman who wants to promote his mother tongue, the Bangubangu language. This is the first time that written material in this language has been created. The first project is a book in English, French and Swahili called “Teach yourself the Kibangubangou”.

I am thrilled with initiatives like this. The book is there now what to do next. Do you print it with an organisation like Lulu? Do you advise to make it a Wikibook? To what extend are concepts like copyright and licenses relevant and understood ..

It would be great to make this project succeed and have kids learn their mother tongue. There are stumbling blocks. Google does support less languages then the Wikimedia Foundation; Google does some hundred and The WMF some two hundred and fifty. One of the problems is that there is not much material in any but the bigger languages and Google does good by already doing this much.

To make an impact, I think it is crucial for material in particularly the endangered languages, to be tagged correctly. This gives Google and the other search engines a fighting chance to function on little material. For the Bangubangu language, there is no proper tag yet. The question is if the IETF will consider to do something about it. They are religious in their belief that the ISO-639-3 is not approved yet and that the bnx code therefore is not to be used. At issue is that there is a need that presents itself for this language.

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