Internet Helps Preserve Welsh Language

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<p><strong>New York &mdash; July 18</strong><br />The Welsh language, spoken by just 582,400 people in Wales, is alive and well and moving into a new technological era. </p><p>The internet is &ldquo;y we,&rdquo; a Web site is &ldquo;gwefan,&rdquo; a home page is &ldquo;hafan&rdquo; and the chair of the Welsh-language television channel S4C holds conversations about the channel&rsquo;s service in a live online chat room.<br /><br />Microsoft has joined the Welsh technological revolution, allowing Welsh speakers to download software that allows users to choose Welsh or English as an interface language for Windows XP and Office 2003.&nbsp; </p><p>Additionally, Microsoft has just signed a memorandum of understanding with the Welsh Language Board to develop the Vista and Office 2007 programs in Welsh by the end of the year.&nbsp; </p><p>Mozilla has developed a Welsh Google bar, allowing users to browse Welsh-language Web sites.</p><p>Microsoft also offers a Welsh spelling and grammar checker, as does the commercial specialist language software developer Omega First. </p><p>Welsh company Testico recently made available a free downloadable program to allow Welsh speakers to use &quot;predictive texting&quot; in Welsh on their mobile phones. </p><p>A Welsh-language version of Wikipedia is now available, and April saw the launch of a new Internet television channel,, hosted by Welsh rapper Aneirin Karadog. <br /><br />And for those who don&rsquo;t speak Welsh, Welsh-language lessons are now offered online on BBC Wales&rsquo;s Web site, and programs can be downloaded onto the learner&rsquo;s MP3 for learning on the go.<br /><br />The Welsh technological revolution is part of the Welsh Assembly Government&rsquo;s vision to make Wales wholly bilingual. </p><p>Almost 40 percent of 3- to 15-year-old children in Wales are now fluent in both Welsh and English, and it is young people in particular who are driving the changes.</p><p>Professor David Crystal of Bangor University, Wales, one of the world&rsquo;s leading linguists, recently said the Internet is a savior of the Welsh language. </p><p>&ldquo;It doesn&#39;t matter how much activism you engage in on behalf of a language if you don&#39;t attract the teenagers, the parents of the next generation of children,&quot; he said. &quot;And what turns teenagers on more than the Internet these days? If you can get a language out there, the youngsters are much more likely to think it&#39;s cool.&rdquo;<br /><br />The Welsh Language Board is responsible for devising and carrying out a strategy for the Welsh language in IT and for setting and policing standards. </p><p>The board&rsquo;s Web site is also a one-stop shop to download all kinds of programs &mdash; Microsoft Office XP, Welsh Language spellchecker, Microsoft Office 2003 spellchecker, and Tecstio &mdash; all for free. </p><p>The board also has funded a spellchecker for OpenOffice.<br /><br />The Bedwyr Centre at the University of Wales, Bangor, is working with partners in the United States, Ireland and Japan, including renowned institutions such as Microsoft and Carnegie Mellon University, to develop Welsh in information technology.&nbsp; </p><p>The center is responsible for Cysgliad, a package that contains a Welsh-language spellchecker, a grammar checker and a collection of comprehensive dictionaries. </p><p>The center is also working on standardizing terminology and speech technology, it and has developed electronic dictionaries for both CD and the Web.</p>

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