Windows not responding? Sounds like a cow has fallen over, but not died

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As smartphone use increases around the world, ever more diverse language support is needed so that people can use new technology, whatever language they speak. Unfortunately, this isn’t always straightforward.

Pic from The Economist
Pic from The Economist

The Economist reports (by way of BoingBoing) that Ibrahima Sarr, a Senegalese coder is trying to translate Mozilla’s Firefox web browser and operating system into Fulah, a language spoken by 20 million people.

Unfortunately, there’s a problem: The language lacks many technological terms: So what to do. As it turns out, Sarr decided to make them up – based on existing cues from the language. As the Economist reports:

““Crash” became hookii (a cow falling over but not dying); “timeout” became a honaama (your fish has got away). “Aspect ratio” became jeendondiral, a rebuke from elders when a fishing net is wrongly woven. In Malawi’s Chichewa language, which has 10m speakers, “cached pages” became mfutso wa tsamba, or bits of leftover food. The windowless houses of the 440,000 speakers of Zapotec, a family of indigenous languages in Mexico, meant that computer “windows” became “eyes”.”

Brilliant. This also means that next time you manage to avert a crash, you technically don’t have a cow, man.

James O’Malley