Pre-Masters Programme – Spring Semester 2015
Summarise the following text in approximately 100 words.
Swahili speakers wishing to use a “kompyuta” – as computer is rendered in Swahili – have been out of luck when it comes to communicating in their tongue. Computers, no matter how bulky their hard drives or sophisticated their software packages, have not yet mastered Swahili or hundreds of other indigenous African languages.
But that may soon change. Across the continent, linguists are working with experts in information technology to make computers more accessible to Africans who happen not to know English, French or the other major languages that have been programmed into the world’s desktops.
There are economic reasons for the outreach. Microsoft, which is working to incorporate Swahili into Microsoft Windows, Microsoft Office and other popular programs, sees a market for its software among the roughly 100 million Swahili speakers in East Africa. The same goes for Google, which last month launched www.google.co.ke, offering a Kenyan version in Swahili of the popular search engine.
But the campaign to Africanize cyberspace is not all about the bottom line. There are hundreds of languages in Africa – some spoken only by a few dozen elders – and they are dying out at an alarming rate. The continent’s linguists see the computer as one important way of saving them. Unesco estimates that 90 percent of the world’s 6,000 languages are not represented on the Internet, and that one language is disappearing somewhere around the world every two weeks.
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