Saturday, March 23, 2013

#ASL; the most challenging language at #Translatewiki

A #Wikipedia in "our" language is what people are working towards in the incubator. There are many challenges that need to be taken before this dream is fulfilled. Messages need to be localised, articles need to be written and finally the text has to be proven to be in "my" language. Several challenges that take time and effort, all for the big moment when one more Wikipedia is created.

They are challenges but they are dwarfed by the challenges facing the people working towards a Wikipedia in American Sign Language. First of all, their effort cannot be part of the incubator. Their incubator project is in a Wikimedia Labs environment. An environment with experimental software that allows them to write their own language.

The SignWriting script is written from top to bottom as you can see in the screenshot. This is not supported by MediaWiki. The SignWriting script is not yet part of Unicode. MediaWiki only supports scripts that are encoded in Unicode.

Consider what it does to localising the software at Below you find what Wednesday looks like for Adam, who is working on the localisation of the most used messages. It must be copying data from one environment to the next, not even knowing what the effect will be when it finally shows in the labs environment.

If anything I know how much hard work goes into new projects. The effort for the Wikipedia in American Sign Language is probably the most complicated of them all.


Powers said...

How many native ASL signers can actually understand SignWriting, anyway? And of those, how many actually prefer SignWriting to written English?

Gerard Meijssen said...

The first thing to realise is that ASL is not the only sign language used with SignWriting. The second thing is that you do not understand why the ability of writing a mother tongue is vitally important. When a person learns to read and write for the first time in his mother tongue it has a beneficial impact for the whole of the academic career ...

PS It is not only about ASL there are over a hundred sign languages.