Microsoft technology is renowned for its worldwide applications and has funded free Microsoft Office Language Interface Packs (LIPs) for many languages, giving users the opportunity to experience the features of Microsoft Office Excel, Office Outlook, Office PowerPoint, and Office Word in their native language. The Welsh LIP is also available for Windows operating systems, including Windows 7.

Welsh is one of Europe’s oldest languages. Although the number of Welsh speakers has decreased historically, it rose from 509,098 in 1991 to 582,000 in 2001. This is attributed to an increase in the number of speakers among young people, particularly between the ages of five and 15 years. Schools have played a large part in this shift, as has the Welsh Language Act of 1993, which requires public bodies providing a service to people in Wales to implement a Welsh Language Scheme, providing those services in both Welsh and English. The act emphasises that the Welsh language is: “an essential and enduring component in the history, culture, and social fabric of the nation.”

There is a fascinating  new case study from the Microsoft Local Language Program about how localized software helps Welsh students use technology in their own language and help them to perceive that their native language is relevant in their everyday use of technology. 

Here’s a snippet from the article that illustrates why this makes a difference:

While students could create documents in Welsh, and look up Welsh websites, the interface of the applications students used was in English. “The tool bar and menus were in English. I found myself having to use English words to talk about the technology,” says Thomas. “This was interrupting our practice of immersive learning, and giving the impression that Welsh is not a language used within modern technology.”

Read the full story here.

And, if you want to know what you actually call “sign in”, or “recycle bin” or “link” in Welsh, check out the online search Microsoft Language Portal which contains the Welsh translations of Windows 7 and Office 2007 terms. 

Finally, for some light-hearted observations on Welsh pride in their native language take a look at this YouTube excerpt of Michael McIntyre performing in Swansea.

 Posted by Ian