OCT
20
2000

Norwegian language movement says: "Boycott Microsoft - use KDE instead"

The organization Norsk Målungdom, which works with promoting the Norwegian (Nynorsk) language, asks Norwegian schools to boycott Microsoft products and use KDE instead. MS Windows and Office only exist in the Norwegian (Bokmål) language, but Norwegian law states that pupils have the right to books and equipment in their own language.

So far, Microsoft has claimed that a translation to Nynorsk will be too expensive. Virtually all schools in Norway use MS software, and that means all applications are in Bokmål.

Since KDE now provides both Bokmål and Nynorsk, Norsk Målungdom wants schools to use KDE instead of MS Windows. This can put pressure on Microsoft to create a Nynorsk version, but more importantly, it can spread Linux and KDE to more users.

Iceland (250 000 people) has got Windows translated, but the Icelandic government had to pay a lot for it. Norwegian governments are so far not willing to subsidise Nynorsk Windows translations the same way. There are twice as many Nynorsk users than Icelanders.

"Small" languages really have their chance with free software. Anybody can translate it, and earning money is unimportant. Even non-technical people can understand the benefits of open-source software when they see the results of translation - a result commercial companies never can achieve. One can't complain about the price, either ;-)

This article (Norwegian) appears today in the Norwegian paper Dagsavisen.

Comments

Er det ikke realativt uinteressant hva bygdefanatikere mener om datasystemer? Det nermeste de kommer en pc er vel uansett skurtreskeren...

Joey


By Joey at Fri, 2000/10/20 - 5:00am

Nobody asked you to care. The affected people care.


By AC at Fri, 2000/10/20 - 5:00am

No-one is affected by this, Neo-Norwegian is an artificial language spoken by no-one. Quite costly and hugely unpopular.


By Anders Moe at Tue, 2000/10/31 - 6:00am

Norway has two official written languages, Norwegian Bokmål and Norwegian Nynorsk. Norwegian Bokmål is the majority language, Norwegian Nynorsk the minority language. Norwegian Nynorsk is used by 15-16 per cent of the pupils in elementary and lower secondary school and by 10-15 per cent of the adult population. One fourth of approx. 200 newspapers are edited in Norwegian Nynorsk, most of them small papers. Their circulation amounts to about 6 per cent of the total newspaper circulation in Norway. About 10 per cent of the Norwegian newspapers, among them some large regional newspapers, are edited in both languages, e.g. some of the articles written by the jounrlists are in Norwegian Nynorsk, some in Norwegian Bokmål. About 10 per cent of the books published in Norway are in Norwegian Nynorsk, this goes for fiction as well as non-fiction.

Both Norwegian Bokmål and Norwegian Nynorsk are "constructed languages", as are all modern written languages.

The localisation of KDE into Norwegian Nynorsk is an important event for the Norwegian language movement and an important contribution to linguistic democracy and linguistic pluralism in Norway.

You will find more information about the Norwegian language situation here: http://www.sprakrad.no/engelsk.htm

Gaute Hvoslef Kvalnes has done a remarkable job!

Jon Grepstad
the Norwegian Language Council


By Jon Grepstad at Wed, 2000/11/01 - 6:00am

"Both Norwegian Bokmål and Norwegian Nynorsk are "constructed languages", as are all modern written languages."

This is the stock response of the Neo-Norwegian movement when told their language is a construct, spoken by none, written by few, liked by fewer; it doesn't work so well here- I'm almost sure the word I used was "artificial", and there is indeed a real difference between politically and ideologically planned languages, such as Neo-Norwegian, and languages that are developed by their users.

It's also interesting to remember that in the heyday of Neo-Norwegian, one of the chief reasons Neo-Norwegian was great was its absolute naturalness- nothing cultured or aristocratic about it; "Mother's own tongue!" It wasn't. A barrage of spelling changes set about to make Neo-Norwegian understandable to "mother" by making it more similar to the Danish she knew, a process in which the Neo-Norwegian language lost all its special features without increasing legibility or diminishing the hatred between the groups who believe in the various Norwegian spellings.


By Anders Moe at Wed, 2000/11/01 - 6:00am

> Neo-Norwegian is an artificial language
> spoken by no-one.

Of course; all written languages are "artificial". Norwegian Nynorsk is a *written* language. When Norwegians speak, they use their dialects, which can be very different (or not) from the written Nynorsk and Bokmål. Nynorsk and Bokmål is only *spoken* in news broadcasts.

There's a very good article at http://library.thinkquest.org/18802/norwlang.htm about the Norwegian language:

“Dialects are used in school (by teachers and students), on TV, on the radio.

To show how the dialects can vary, here are some ways to say ‘I’ in Norwegian dialects (the Norwegian spelling has been kept): ‘Jeg’ (standard Dano-Norwegian), ‘Eg’ (standard New-Norwegian), ‘Je’, ‘I’, ‘Æ’ and ‘E’. That’s six different ways of just saying ‘I’!”


By Karl Ove Hufthammer at Wed, 2000/11/01 - 6:00am

Er det ikke realativt uinteressant hva bygdefanatikere mener om datasystemer? Det nermeste de kommer en pc er vel uansett skurtreskeren...

De fleste bønder kan stave riktig.


By Tommy at Fri, 2000/10/20 - 5:00am

Actually we should also concentrate on making KDE accessible to blind (language/sound/braille) or other handicapped people. It`s no longer just a matter of how kewl we can make it(although every addition is surely welcome), it is that already. Now let`s concentrate and focus upon making it available to all.

Mikael Helbo Kjær (a dane not a norseman)


By Icebear at Sat, 2000/10/21 - 5:00am

I've noticed the two Norwegian translations for KDE but didn't know what the difference was. I assume they're regional variants? How different are they in practice?


By Otter at Fri, 2000/10/20 - 5:00am

Norway has two official written "languages" (both being equally Norwegian). They're not very different in practice (both are plain easy to understand for any Norwegian), but Bokmål is seen more often than Nynorsk (having little to do with regioning).

Gaute is the Nynorsk translator, and IMO he deserves a lot of credit for the effort :) It's a powerful display of how free software can fill needs that corporations and even governments aren't willing to take care of.


By Haakon Nilsen at Fri, 2000/10/20 - 5:00am

The difference is historical. For 400 years, until 1814, Norway was a part of Denmark. The only written language during this period was Danish. The old Norse language didn't survive (Icelandic, for example, has evolved much less, and remains quite close to the old "viking" language).

When Norway no longer was Danish, the need for a Norwegian language arose. Two directions emerged - either "Norwegianise" the Danish language, or create a language from scratch, based on Norwegian dialects.

Simply put, Bokmål ("Book language") is evolved from Danish, while Nynorsk ("New Norwegian") is based on spoken Norwegian dialects. Since 1870 or so, both languages has had equal official status as Norwegian languages. They are mutually understandable, and pupils learn both in school.

Today, Bokmål is used by the majority of Norwegians. Nynorsk is mostly used in the western parts of Norway, but nation-wide television, radio, etc. uses both.


By Gaute Hvoslef K... at Fri, 2000/10/20 - 5:00am

Ha! Sort of like the GNOME and KDE of Norwegian languages. :) I bet you have flamewars between the supporters of the two, just like we have too! Anyway, thanks for the interesting historical background.


By Alfhiem at Sat, 2000/10/21 - 5:00am

Ha! Sort of like the GNOME and KDE of Norwegian languages. :) I bet you have flamewars between the supporters of the two, just like we have too! Anyway, thanks for the interesting historical background
Never happend :-)


By Tommy at Sat, 2000/10/21 - 5:00am

I bet you have flamewars between the supporters of the two, just like we have too!

Yes. :-)

But the norwegian vs farmer-language(nynorsk) is a bit more bitter than gnome vs kde, i think. (Read: I don't want it to be compulsory to be able to write both "nynorsk" and "bokmål" in norway, but it is, and that sucks).


By arcade at Mon, 2000/10/23 - 5:00am

No you suck


By Tommy at Mon, 2000/10/23 - 5:00am

1814
Jan 14. Denmark signs the peace-treaty of Kiel, and gives Norway to Sweden.
Nov 4. King Karl II (King Karl XIII of Sweden) and Karl Johan (Crown Prince of Sweden) is formally elected King and Crown Prince of Norway

1905
The union with Sweden falls apart and Norway becomes an independent kingdom. The Danish prince Karl becomes king Haakon VII of Norway.


By Anders Andersson at Sat, 2000/10/21 - 5:00am

Some people (esp separatists at one point in the past) - think "joual" is more "authentic" than namby-pamby French. But (dons flamesuit) really it's just poorly pronounced French with bad grammar and a lot of anglicisms thrown in :-) heh heh ... (BTW "joual" was the cool Quebecois way of pronouncing "cheval" - har har)

Thankfully joual appears to be on the decline and a sort of "mid atlantic" standard sort of French is accepted as every bit as "authentic" in Quebec (there's even immigrants who speak French now). As an *Anglo* who speaks French the number of times I got asked whether I was from Europe (because of my less slangy sounding accent) used to irritate me - now it makes me laugh.


By couard anonyme at Sun, 2000/10/22 - 5:00am

No actual "need" arose, it's purely national romanticism; Danish being even closer to "bokmaal" than Neo-Norwegian is, and all three readily understandable to everyone.
But Danes don't buy Norwegian books, and that's why the Norwegian language can only survive on government subsidies. It won't be missed. We've had a painful hundred years of pointless messing about with the spelling.


By Anders Moe at Tue, 2000/10/31 - 6:00am

The difference isn't much bigger than the difference between American English and British English. And that is probably the reason why there is a great oppostion in Norwegian schools against learning Nynorsk. The reason why it is still around is that some believe that it is important for norwegian cultural inheritance.

The nynorsk people are probably going to flame me for this.


By Erik at Sat, 2000/10/21 - 5:00am

Nynorsken er eit vidunderlig språk.

Lengje leve Ivar Aasen

New norwegian is A wonderfull language

Long live Ivar Aasen


By Tommy at Sun, 2000/10/22 - 5:00am

True, the difference is not great.

As a Swede I can inform our non-Scandianvian readers that the high form of Swedish and Norwegian may be more similar to each other than some spoken dialects in each country.

In fact, some dialect words found in southern Sweden, can also be found in western Norway, yet lost in both the Stockholm and Oslo areas.

The Danish influence in Norway and on _written_ Norwegian is probably the main reason why Swedish and Norwegian differ at all today. Had Sweden historically dominated Norway the same way as Denmark (or the other way around, of course), Norwegian would most probable have been regarded as one of many dialects.

[This could have been true, for example through the historically only legal heir to Sweden (incl current Finland), Norway, and Denmark (incl Iceland, Greenland, Faroe Islands, and Shetland Islands). That was the prince born in the 1400-hundreds by the crown prince of and crown princess. As his great(?) paternal grandfather also was the king of Sweden made him legally eligible for the Swedish crown as well. Unfortunately his father died and his mother became Queen Margareta of Norway of Denmark. Then he himself died at the age of 14, I believe, in Skåne (then part of Denmark). Subsequently, Margaretha gained power in Sweden, but never on legal grounds, and she was formally never recognized as Queen of Sweden.

THAT would have been the superpower of Europe.


By weiuds kfj at Mon, 2000/10/23 - 5:00am

Norwegian would most probable have been regarded as one of many dialects.

[This could have been true, for example through the historically only legal heir to Sweden (incl current Finland) ...

Sorry to be a little bit pedantic, but while the poulations of Denmark, Norway, Sweden and Iceland come from similar Norse roots, Finns don't. I know this wasn't the meaning of your comment - but like I say I'm being pedantic!

A large minority of Finnish citizens come from Swedish origins, thanks to Swedish overlordship, but true Finns are from different racial stock. This is reflected in the Finnish language, which is unlike any of the Norse languages. In fact the only languages closely related to Finnish are Estonian and various Karelian dialects. In the dim and distant past (around the time of the migration westwards of the Ural basin tribes), Finns had a similar dialect to Hungarians, but the similarity faded into obscurity centuries ago.

Other dialects related to Finnish include Ingrian(sp?) but I understand the last true Ingrian speakers disappeared earlier this century. Most had already disappeared during the construction of St. Petersburg on Ingrian land many years before, or migrated to the Karelian Isthmus where they were absorbed into the Finnish population.


By chris at Mon, 2000/10/23 - 5:00am

In fact the only languages closely related to Finnish are Estonian and various Karelian dialects.

If you check more carefully you will find a dozen languages (each with several dialects) more close related to Finnish and Estonian than either of these to Hungarian. Included in this branch you will also find the Sami language. These languages are, however, subdued by Russian along the northern interior of Russia and Siberia.

What makes Finnish and Estonian particular, is that these two areas became the neutral zone between Russia and the Western powers and therefore received a country of their own. Ethnic identity for the fenno-ugrians is a lot tougher to the East.

On the topic, I wonder how a Kurdish KDE will flourish in Turkey? Or, a Basque in Spain, or a Catalan in France, or Friesean in the Netherlands, etc.

The rebellian power of KDE may be too strong for some governments to tolerate?! Just a thought.


By weipruhfuds at Mon, 2000/10/23 - 5:00am

You wrote:

"On the topic, I wonder how a Kurdish KDE will flourish in Turkey? Or, a Basque
in Spain, or a Catalan in France, or Friesean in the Netherlands, etc."

I doubt the Dutch government would have a problem with a Friesian language version, as most other things are in Friesian too, including radio, TV, newspapers and even www.google.com


By Alex Koster at Wed, 2003/02/26 - 6:00am

There is no one-to-one relationship with language and race in Finland. Finnish spaking finn has the very same genes as swedish speaking finn.

Finland was part of Sweden up to 1809, so official language was swedish and swedish was spoken in "big" towns like Turku and Helsinki where goverment had it's officials. Therefor people living in those towns had to speak Swedish to communicate. Swedish speaking upperclass was still mostly finnish, they just had to adapt speaking swedish.


By jannek at Mon, 2000/10/23 - 5:00am

"Finnish spaking finn has the very same genes as swedish speaking finn."

and

"Swedish speaking upperclass was still mostly finnish, they just had to adapt speaking swedish."

Ooops... Those were a bold, but unfortunately untrue statements. Svante Pääbo (Estonian guy, raised in Sweden, and professor in Germany) claimed the opposite... That the Finnish/Estonian "stock" had become so Indo-european by intermarriage with surrounding Germanic and Slavic groups so there are very few genetic markers left to trace a person as from Finland/Estonia. The language had remained intact but the genetics not.

Nonetheless, the Swedish dictionary used by Microsoft doesn't come from Sweden, but from Finland! Apparently, Finns know Swedish grammar and computer dictionaries better than Swedes.


By weipruhfuds at Mon, 2000/10/23 - 5:00am

Nonetheless, the Swedish dictionary used by Microsoft doesn't come from Sweden, but from Finland! Apparently, Finns know Swedish grammar and computer dictionaries better than Swedes.

This is also the case with the Norwegian dictionaries. These new dictionaries (MS Office 2000) have caused many laughs in Norwegian offices. The spelling checker tries to be smart and accept compound words that are not in the dictionary. The result can be seen at Harry Hurt's page in the Norwegian magazine PC World. Those who know Norwegian can just browse the archive - there are lots of Word 2000 entries!

Anyway, the new spell checker might be better, since it accepts more compound words than before. The risk of writing something wrong that gets accepted anyway is quite low.

Note for non-Scandinavians: The Scandinavian languages (and others, I'm sure) compose words differently from English. In English, you can have web site, which becomes nettstad in Nynorsk. Needless to say, the amount of compound words is quite large - no spell checker can include them all.


By Gaute Hvoslef K... at Mon, 2000/10/23 - 5:00am

The same with compound-words is in german.
anyway: for example there is also a little difference between Germany-german and Austrian-German (I'm from Austria, btw.). so, why don't make a special Austrian KDE?


By christian at Tue, 2000/10/24 - 5:00am

Can you get the MS Swedish Dictionary from US resalers? If so, where from?
Thanks, tack


By rogue at Fri, 2001/03/23 - 6:00am

I'm not sure I understand your reasoning. Why do you think this prince, had he lived, would have been more succesfull at keeping the union together than his mother? Please bear in mind that such things as legality and fairness didn't always play the decisive role in medival powerpolitics. Also Margareta was the Scandinavian Elizabeth.

Birger


By Birger at Mon, 2000/10/23 - 5:00am

Simply because Swedes never accepted Margareta as their queen. To become the king or queen of Sweden at that time you had to have Swedish ancestry, which she didn't.

The legal alternative at the time was Albrecht von Mecklenburg who had already been thrown out, and the mother of the dead heir seemed better option at that time, despite not being done the legally correct way; a minor detail which may have helped at the time was that she was half-way to Stockholm with her army to re-inforce negotiations ;)

My overall point, however, is that Norwegian, Swedish, and Danish are so similar that by any language's standard they would be dialects and not separate languages.


By weipruhfuds at Mon, 2000/10/23 - 5:00am

I like your overall point, it is a pity how many stupid and useless nationalism is alive today


By muzaraque at Tue, 2005/09/13 - 5:00am

Sorry,

The text

"That was the prince born in the 1400-hundreds by the crown prince of and crown princess."

should have been

"That was the prince born in the 1400-hundreds by the crown prince of Norway and crown princess of Denmark."


By weipruhfuds at Mon, 2000/10/23 - 5:00am

are u talking about greenland and iceland


By suzzi at Tue, 2006/09/12 - 5:00am

Great article - very eye opening. Thank you for translating it. I hope KDE/Linux's support for languages gets better and better.


By KDE User at Fri, 2000/10/20 - 5:00am

Let all to join in Microsoft Boycott!!!!!!
:)))))))))
Bulgarian open source community supports the suggestion!


By Alexander Marinov at Fri, 2000/10/20 - 5:00am

Ok, first step: dont use hotmail.


By Lenny at Sat, 2000/10/21 - 5:00am

right in his face :)


By AC at Sat, 2000/10/21 - 5:00am

Small correction.

The Icelandic government did not pay for the translation. It entered into an agreement though that it would actively eliminate the use of pirated copies of Microsoft software in government institutions and encorage the use of them in educational institutions. Only Win98 was covered by the contract.

The funny thing though is that they managed to screw up networking in Win98 while translating it (how that is possible god only knows) so nobody uses it on LANs in schools. Its just not possible :)


By hrafnkell at Fri, 2000/10/20 - 5:00am

Thanks for the correction. From what I've heard, the Icelandic deal with Microsoft was so strict that the Norwegian government wanted to avoid the same situation. I just assumed Iceland had to pay ;-)


By Gaute Hvoslef K... at Fri, 2000/10/20 - 5:00am

Have always hated nynorsk as a written language, but this almost makes up for it!

I really believe they have a good case here. :)


By Christian A Strømmen at Fri, 2000/10/20 - 5:00am

The rest of the country hate people from Oslo, they have a dialect from hell.


By Knut Hamsun at Mon, 2000/10/23 - 5:00am

Yeah, let the world boycott Micr$oft :)

(actually I prefer Gnome but I would never wind this fight here 8)


By Anonymous at Fri, 2000/10/20 - 5:00am

Let's boycott Gnome!


By Anonymous coward at Sat, 2000/10/21 - 5:00am

hmmm....
Has anybody asked you for advice ?
I don't think so...


By Somebody at Sat, 2000/10/21 - 5:00am

Loosen up would ya! It’s called humour, and its good to have a laugh once in a while.


By Just Some Guy at Sat, 2000/10/21 - 5:00am

I dont know latin myself, but i think that would be very cool. No commercial vendor could ever afford that.

Dont know though, if there are untranslatable words (internet, file manager,...).


By Lenny at Sat, 2000/10/21 - 5:00am

That would be cool! Any priests around?

--
Andreas Joseph Krogh


By Andreas Joseph Krogh at Sat, 2000/10/21 - 5:00am

I think a franconian translation is more important :-)


By Michael Häckel at Sat, 2000/10/21 - 5:00am

I'm supporting this very interesting option. We could avoid this pretty complicated German which every Franconian pupil has to learn. *g*


By Christian Selig at Sat, 2000/10/21 - 5:00am

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