by: Abdul-Majid Bhurgri
You all probably already are aware about the consensus of the experts that to take full advantage of computer technology it is imperative that people should be able to use it in their own language. I have been working with this goal in mind since last almost quarter of a century. Today we can use almost any personal computer in the world for Sindhi.
Still, if a person is conversant with Sindhi alone, and cannot read or write English, he even today cannot make effective use of this modern day tool and technology. Thus majority of our people, not having the needed expertise of English language, either cannot use the computer at all or cannot take full advantage it.
Normally the educational, technological and language related institutions, which have the needed resources, are responsible for providing this technology in local language. But based on past experience, left to them it should not come as a surprise if the things remain unchanged even after a lapse of another quarter century.
This unfortunately being the state of affairs, I believe it is left to us Sindhis, the individuals, to come forward and help our own selves instead of relying on organizations or even bemoaning or complaining about their apathy in this regard.
Since Windows and Mac OSX, the leading OS used for personal computers, are proprietary systems of Microsoft and Apple respectively, only they are authorized to make changes to these. That leaves Linux, which is an open source OS, which it is possible to translate for Sindhi. I recently used Ubuntu flavor or distro of Linux and was pleasantly surprised to find it very usable for Sindhi. Those of us who are a little computer savvy, can download this free OS, install it under Windows, download Sindhi Installer from my website, and check it out for yourself. The appearance of Sindhi text on this OS is unmatched by any other.
Being an open source system, it is possible for us Sindhis to translate it into Sindhi. This needs a coordinated effort to translate words, terms, phrases and strings, as are used by the OS, from English into Sindhi. Translation may not necessarily mean literally finding a new word in every case. For example we use words like ‘radio’, ‘TV’ and ‘computer’ in Sindhi without feeling the need to translate these. Anyhow, if we can accomplish this, then in 2 years, when new version of OS is released, a completer Sindhi user interface could be part of it and thus making it the first OS in Sindhi.
With this in view I applied for and set up a Sindhi Translators team for Ubuntu Linux, which has been approved. I now request you all to come forward and be a part of this effort so that we can make Sindhi OS a reality.
You don’t need to be a computer expert or a programmer to be able to take part and contribute in this effort. All we have to do is simply translate all the words, terms, phrases, strings and sentences that are used by the OS into Sindhi. Once we have done this, these can be easily implemented into the OS by the team of experts who maintain the OS. Anyone who has knowledge of English language can help. Those who are related to computer science, their help will inevitably be needed because many words and phrases, which are technology specific, would be difficult to translate without their help. Help of linguists is eagerly sought.
I therefore request you all, in the name of language, to come forward and help as much as you conveniently can. This is your project, so own it and make it your own. I have only set it up, that is set up the platform, but it is for you all to own it, manage it and see to its fruition.
This is an open forum and membership is open to all. Join it and use the mail list for communications. Those who wish to take more active part can formally become co-owners of the group and manage it. You are all welcome and I look forward to your active participation.
In this project my young friend Abdur Rahim Nizamani has already joined me. He is a talented Computer Science Engineer. As result of his help and efforts we have been able to make some headway in this direction. With this message, I attach a screenshot of the desktop of my computer running Ubuntu (Linux). You can see the result of the changes so far made to the system. The names of days and months already appear in Sindhi, some of the menu entries are in Sindhi, an email message in Sindhi and a Sindhi newspaper website are also open on the desktop. If you view the image at normal zoom level, you can see that the quality of Sindhi text on this OS is greatly superior to that on Windows or even Macintosh, thus making it an ideal choice for Sindhi. And above all, the OS as well as applications and programs, being open source are also free and cost absolutely nothing.
This OS can be easily used side by side with Windows as it allows easy installation alongside/under Windows OS without requiring any expertise for disk partitioning etc. That is how I am running it. I have made an installer for Sindhi for Ubuntu and it is available on my website for download.
Please do send this message to Sindhi mailing lists and your Sindhi friends.