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A break through for Irish-speaking computer users

A break through for Irish-speaking computer users

The University of Ulster has teamed up with global software company Microsoft to develop an Irish language version of its Windows XP operating system, and its Office suite of business software.

The project, announced by Eamon O Cuiv - Ireland's Minister for Community, Rural and Gaeltacht Affairs - also involves experts at the National University of Ireland in Maynooth, Foras na Gaeilge, the body responsible for the promotion of the Irish language, and the University of Limerick.

A key element of the programme will be the establishment of a Community Glossary website that will enable the Irish-speaking community to make comments or contributions on the use of this technical terminology.

The glossary of technical terms has been pre-translated by Foras na Gaeilge using their new Dictionary of Computing and Information Technology.

The full translation of the roughly 600,000 words involved will be undertaken by Irish Departments at the University of Ulster and NUI Maynooth and some testing will be carried out at the University of Limerick.

The final version glossary will be used in the translation of the products into Irish and can also be used by the public as a reference source thereafter.

The University of Ulster input into the project is led by senior lecturer Dr Greg Toner, who said: “Irish Studies staff at the University of Ulster are delighted to be able to cooperate with Microsoft in investing in an electronic infrastructure for the Irish language.

"The translation of the Windows interface represents an extremely important advance for the Irish language. It brings the Irish language into the everyday sphere. Electronic media are central to 21st century life and it is vital for lesser-used languages to establish themselves in that arena if they are to survive into the 22nd century.

“Not only do resources such as this increase people's exposure to a more technical vocabulary and higher linguistic register, but it allows them to express themselves more fully and more richly in their preferred language."

Mr Terry Landers, Head of Corporate Affairs, Microsoft Ireland said, "At Microsoft, we are committed to working with governments all over the world on programmes that help address specific challenges and meet the needs of citizens.

“We are proud to be part of an integrated approach bringing together the academic, corporate and government sectors to produce a truly representative product, which will help to increase access to technology in our native tongue.

“In addition to helping Irish speaking families and businesses, we also expect the final product to be widely embraced by teachers and students throughout the island."

Sources: BBC Online, University of Ulster Online

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