Ugandan Mozilla Highlights Power of OSS Translation - page 2
Facing the Challange
LP: How did you form the team... where did you get the translators?
LP: In total how many people were working on the project?
Wire: Eight people. There were four translators, a supervisor, a technical coordinator who did the compiling of the software, two PR personnel, and I was the overall project overseer.
LP: How was the project financed?
Wire: We, the vision bearers, dug deep into our pockets.
LP: How much would you estimate went into the project?
Wire: (Smiling) We're still balancing the books but at least several million shillings.
LP: What are the key aspects to consider when starting such a project?
Wire: The software to be translated and the team to translate; after that it's public relations.
LP: Can you elaborate on the software aspect?
Wire: Don't take it for granted that you are just going to jump onto any software and translate it. Microsoft for example will not allow you to freely translate Internet Explorer.
LP: It's proprietary, copyrighted so you cannot view or modify the source code?
Wire: Yes. Mozilla on the other hand is Open Source and can be freely modified without legal ramifications.
LP: Is this Luganda browser ready for use by the general public?
Wire: Nearly there. As of today, it is useable; however, there are still a few changes to make.
LP: So can the general public access it?
Wire: The software is still in beta testing phase. A number of individuals are testing it to make sure it's functioning properly. We shall be announcing its release in a few weeks. This will give any Ugandan with access to the Internet an opportunity to download the software.
LP: Does someone have to be very conversant with Luganda to use the browser?
Wire: It's what I call "New Age Luganda." It is easily understandable by the average Ugandan.
LP: What were the most difficult words to translate?
Wire: (Laughing) The team for example had problems with translating "Back." Do we use "e mabega" or "enyuma" ? Eventually we went with "e mabega."
LP: Any others?
Mr Wire : For "Cookie" we simply modified it and called it "Kuki." Domain was translated as "e'kyapa."
LP: Very interesting choices. How did you translate web site?
Wire: Olutimbe. You can now perhaps understand the complexity of translating technology terms into local languages.
LP: What lessons can the rest of us pick from this momentous project?
Wire: The language aspect of the digital divide has finally been demystified. The floodgates are about to open for IT usage by anyone who can read and write a local language.
LP: Please elaborate. Wire: I view this as a landmark in the history of ICT in this country. We have began with Luganda but more will follow in Runyakitara, Lumasaba, Ateso, Luo and many others.
LP: Will you also translate into Kiswahili?
Wire: No. We believe the Tanzanians who have already embarked on it have a greater comparative advantage since it is widely spoken there.
LP: Are you going to translate web pages next?
Wire: We are part of a big jigsaw puzzle. Every one can only put in a piece to form the bigger picture. Our piece is the software translation. Let others borrow from that and translate content. LP: What last words do you have for Ugandans in line with this project?
Wire: We hardly do anything for our selves and have preference for foreign products in all forms; clothing, curricula, technology and even languages. We have over time developed distaste for not only our very own products but also our skills.
LP: Please explain.
Wire: When it comes to IT and software, Uganda has very high potential to regain its glory as the Pearl of Africa. Free and Open Source Software is a saviour within our midst.
LP: You are advocating for the use of Open Source?
Wire: This project is a demonstration of the power that Free Open Source Software puts into our hands; "The freedom to choose."
LP: How can people reach you to support the project?
Wire: They can email firstname.lastname@example.org