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Today there are nearly 7,000 languages spoken around the world and scientists estimate that three languages become extinct every month and over half of all languages are in danger of becoming extinct before the end of this century. Just think of the knowledge and history that’s lost when a language dies. Today is UNESCO's International Mother Language Day and a great time to celebrate the importance of language to everyone around the world.
There are many economic and cultural reasons why so many languages are at risk of extinction. However, with the ubiquity of computers in our lives, one element that can help preserve language is technology. At Microsoft we’ve committed to enable as many people as possible to work, communicate and collaborate using their native language through our Local Language Program.
While software is localized for the major world languages if you live in a smaller community you are often forced to use technology in a foreign language, adding yet another hurdle to protecting and developing your native tongue. Take Spain as an example. More than 74 percent of the country’s 47 million citizens speak Castilian Spanish, but 26 percent speak Valencian, Basque, Catalan or Galician. Through the technology of Local Interface Packs (LIPS) and Caption Language Interface Packs (CLIPS), which are part of the Microsoft Local Language Program, native speakers of Valencian, Basque, Catalan and Galician can now use technology such as Windows and Office on their own terms.
Today Microsoft offers Windows and Office in nearly 100 languages, reaching more than 90 percent of the global population.
In addition to providing these Local Language Packs, we also provide online dictionaries, translation tools and localized versions of our developer tools.
Ultimately these tools and resources help support language preservation and translation, which can lead to better economic opportunities through giving more people access to technology in their own language.
On International Mother Language Day it’s a good time to celebrate the wonderful diversity around our planet and recognize the importance those languages play in our culture and diversity. You can find a whole set of resources and download instructions for Local Language Packs at the Local Language Program website.
Some of the languages supported today by the Local Language Program.
Azerbaijani (Latin) <Azərbaycan>
Bangla (Bangladesh) <বাংলা (বাংলাদেশ)>
Bengali (India) <বাংলা (ভারত)>
Bosnian (Cyrillic) <босански>
Bosnia and Herzegovina
Bosnian (Latin) <Bosanski>
Chinese Simplified <简体中文>
Chinese Traditional <繁體中文>
Indonesian <Bahasa Indonesia>
Macedonia, Fmr Yugoslav Republic of
Malay (Brunei Darussalam) <Bahasa Melayu (Brunei Darussalam)>
Malay (Malaysia) <Bahasa Melayu (Malaysia)>
Maori <Reo Māori>
Mongolian (Cyrillic) <Монгол хэл>
Norwegian (Nynorsk) <Norsk (Nynorsk)>
Portuguese Brazil <Português (Brasil)>
Punjabi (Gurmukhi, India) <ਪੰਜਾਬੀ>
Scottish Gaelic <Gàidhlig>
Serbian (Cyrillic) <Српски>
Serbian (Latin) <Srpski>
Sesotho sa Leboa
Uzbek (Latin) <O’zbekcha>
Vietnamese <Tiếng Việt>
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