Friday, 2 January 2009


…de la Wall Street Journal:

Can a language stay relevant if it isn't used to send text messages on a cellphone?

Language advocates worry that the answer is no, and they are pushing to make more written languages available on cellphones…

…Native-language boosters in Ireland and Britain have successfully pushed for development of Gaelic and Welsh languages on cellphones for texting so they remain relevant for young people.

Breandan Mac Craith, marketing director for Dublin-based Foras na Gaeilge, which promotes Gaelic, says, "It's extremely important that language isn't something that's only in books." In 2006, Foras began working to develop texting software for the Irish language with market leader Tegic. He says "texting way surpasses voice calls," but "trying to find the accent marks that we put on some of our vowels is very time consuming. So texts got written in English."

Once the software was available, Foras started pushing carriers and handset makers to install it on their phones. Last year, Samsung Corp., trying to steal a march on market leader Nokia Corp., added an Irish-language handset to its line. "They're fabulous tools for us," says Mr. Mac Craith. "It facilitates the Irish language as a communications tool for every day -- not just in the classroom."

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