A Survey of Localisation in African Languages, and its Prospects: A Background Document

12. Appendices

There are five appendices, each of which is in ongoing evolution on the PanAfrican Localisation project site wiki as "L10n (Localisation) Profiles" at http://www.panafril10n.org/wikidoc/pmwiki.php/PanAfrLoc/Profiles :

  • Appendix I (12.1) Major Languages (93, plus pages on five other lists of major African languages, and a page for adding more language)
  • Appendix II (12.2) Writing Systems (11)
  • Appendix III (12.3) Countries (54)
  • Appendix IV (12.4) Organisations (numerous links and some separate pages on the wiki)
  • Appendix V (12.5) L10n Resources (numerous links and some separate pages on the wiki)

Each of these appendices includes a title page and then a number of subpages (number for the first three indicated in parentheses) that are accessible by link within the wiki from the title page. In this section only the title pages will be reproduced. A link at the end of each Appendix [in the PDF version of the document] will take one to the corresponding wiki page.

In order to more fully understand the levels of usage of African languages and Arabic in ICT, and the kinds of software and content localisation that are being undertaken in the region, it is helpful to attempt a country-by-country survey and to consider what is being done with some of the most widely spoken languages on the continent.

Once the subject of languages is brought up in the context of use of text on computers, the issue of writing systems is also important to consider. Then too, there are language-related issues relevant to localisation which, like so many African languages, cross borders and involve more than one country. Very quickly the large scope of the project becomes apparent.

This undertaking, therefore, is ambitious. If we suppose to do it in a document of this size and in a relatively short period of time, it is because there does not yet seem to be much activity despite the emerging need.

Such a study serves several purposes within (and beyond) this project. First of all it will offer a "clarity through specificity" to discussions of localisation. Second, it will serve as a kind of baseline against which to measure changes. Third, it will inform work on the Website. And fourth, beyond the immediate aims of the project, it will serve to raise awareness on the continent and among people abroad who would help it in matters of ICT about the multilingual applications of the technology, both currently underway and potential.

The first four sections are necessary for reasons related to the history of the region, in particular how colonial borders tended to split language groups, and to the facts that current ICT and language policies tend to be country-specific, but that at the same time there have been since independence inter-African discussions and agencies concerning language. It is helpful thus to be able to frame and reframe questions of localisation to meet these multiple realities in the most appropriate ways.

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