Friday, November 24, 2006

Whose language is it anyway ?

Much of Microsoft's software has been translated in the Mapuzugun or is it the Mapundugun language. They did this in consultation with the Chilean government.

The Mapuche people have gone to court because they disagree that Microsoft or the Chilean government had the right to do this. The language it is claimed is theirs, and the translation was done without consulting the Mapuche people.

Many people do not understand or know what is behind this. Why would people be opposed against becoming part of the digital world? To me, the key thing to appreciate in the reporting is the accusation of "violating their cultural and collective heritage". There are competing orthographies for this language and one is strongly favoured by the government.

So if I remember things well, this has everything to do about the involvement of the people that use the language. Mapundugun is spoken in both Argentina and Chile and here the government of a nation and the most powerful company of the world seem to be taken on because they do not represent the Mapuche people and are denied the right to decide for them.

In that light it makes perfect sense to go to court and insist that this is very much not wanted.

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