2008-04-21

Why Native Language is Important for Web

After reading this blog post about blogging Sinhala, I felt like writing my thoughts about the topic.

There are very few "yes" or "no" answers in life, so I don't think it is correct to rule "blogging in Sinhala is a good idea" or vice versa. Most answers can begin with an "it depends", and I think it is true here, too.

In certain circumstances, using in English on the Web is a good idea. When addressing a global audience, or selling to a product on the Web to the global market, not using English will definitely not serve the purpose.

A key argument for using Sinhala is about addressing certain audiences who are not fluent in other languages.

I think there is a more important reason. Certain things can only be done in Sinhala, and this argument holds for any other language.

A blog post is not always a piece of information to be transmitted to a maximum audience. Sometimes it is a work of art. Works of art are diverse, and this diversity is not only limited to language.

Sinhala is not only a communication medium. It also has a very rich literature: poetry, writings and what not. Being a living language, new Sinhala literature is made every day. And if Web is the medium for such literature, obviously, Sinhala has to be the language.

Check out this blog post for example. (You may need to enable Unicode support). It is a collection of Sinhala poetry from an online "hitiwana kavi maduwa", where people used poetry to communicate. I am sure there are lots of readers who appreciate such work. I can hardly imagine how such a blog post can be in English.

So I think the answer to most questions of life applies here as well: it depends. ;-)

4 comments:

Nishadha Silva said...

Very true mate , And looks like the Sinhala blog marathon was a success as well , if you are anyway connected to development of the unicode software consider my suggestions , a simple user friendly tweak can go a long way in a software becoming popular.

Anuradha Ratnaweera said...

Nishadha, where have you posted your suggestions?

Nishadha Silva said...

They are in the blog post
1. It starts with windows , no option to remove it
2. No way of installing only Sinhala or only Tamil fonts
3. Sinhala one don't give a layout of the keyboard

Anuradha Ratnaweera said...

Nishadha: sorry I didn't know it was yoru blog post.

I haven't used Windows for a decade, so I'm afraid I can't comment much about your suggestions... ;-) My involvement was with enabling Sinhala on the GNU/Linux platform.

AFAIK, the Windows pack adds Sinhala rendering support to Uniscribe. It has support for all types of languages and I don't think it's possible to "unload" them.

But if you are talking about the system tray icons, yes, it would be nice to remove them when necessary. I don't know why they are needed anyways, because Uniscribe/Windows supports a great many more languages and they don't have such icons.

I also agree that the package can be divided into Sinhala and Tamil components, or a selection menu in the installation.

This blog post has a nice summary of available keyboard input methods.