Thursday, December 18, 2008

Supporting Lingala in MediaWiki

Lingala is a language spoken by 200.000 native speakers and 7 million people speak it as a second language according to Ethnologue. It has its own Wikipedia, with a little over a thousand articles. The Lingala language makes use of other characters of the Latin script like the ɔ́. The accent has to be right on top in order to display well. In order to make it so, the CSS on the Lingala Wikipedia has been changed and a specific set of fonts have been ordered and identified.

The problem is that other MediaWiki installations do not provide this change. Consequently Lingala people are unlikely to support their language in Betawiki and, they are unlikely to upload their images to Commons.

In a discussion on Betawiki, browsers have been tested for this problem.
  • Dell WinXP Explorer: squares instead of open e/o (with or with no accents).
  • Dell WinXP Firefox 2.0.0.14: open o/e well; accents well.
  • Mac 10.2.8 Safari 1.0.3: open o/e well; accents not.
  • Mac 10.2.8 Firefox 2.0.9: open o/e well; accents not.
  • Mac 10.2.8 Explorer 5.2: open o/e as "?"; accents not.
  • Mac 10.4.11 Safari 3.1.1: open o/e well; accents not.
  • Mac 10.4.11 Firefox 2.0.0: open o/e well; accents not.
As I understand it, it is a matter for people to use a modern browser. If this is all there is to this, there are two parts to upgrading to a modern browser. How do we get this message out and, how do people get their upgrade?
Thanks,
GerardM

**Update**
It is not only browser related, the ɔ́ shows properly while I am editing this blog entry, but it does not in final form..

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