[LINK] NSW Election Multilingual information is not accessible - now OT

Ash Nallawalla ash at melbpc.org.au
Wed Mar 9 20:51:00 AEDT 2011

> -----Original Message-----
> From: Marghanita da Cruz [mailto:marghanita at ramin.com.au]

> > I wouldn't mind knowing how many Indians on the electoral roll in
> > Australia can't read English.
> <snip>

I wrote to the NSW elections website about their accessibility statement and got an autoresponder but no human reply so far.

> There may be some dependents, who have an obligation to vote, who may
> not speak english. However, the next question is whether they can read the
> devanagri script or Hindi.

True, but how many dependents are young enough for the compulsory vote and citizens to boot?  I hope they survey some migrant associations to find that out. When I sponsored my parents, they were too old to vote and never became citizens. Given the exam they have to pass these days, I suspect the number would be very low.

> Isn't Urdu written in Arabic?

No. "Marghanita" (assuming silent h) can't be written in Arabic (مارجانيتا) with enough precision compared to Urdu (مارگانیتا), so the next Arabic reader will not be able to render it correctly if they see it written down. 

Urdu is closer to Farsi but with many unique glyphs to render Urdu sounds more accurately. While both Farsi and Urdu are based on Arabic, they contain sounds that don't exist in Arabic e.g. ch, p, g etc.  This is why you hear random Arabs on TV say "beace" instead of "peace". Anyway, Urdu can be transliterated in other scripts; therefore, the Hindi used by the Govt of India elections website includes Urdu words. 

> Tamil and a few other Indian languages have their own script.
> Under the Arabs it was probably written in Arabic, under the Portuguese,
> Konkani was written in the Roman Script, and it is now written in the
> DevanA"?garA"? script and apparently several others...
> <http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Konkani_Script>

Konkani is a dialect rather than a language - a common point of debate - http://www.omniglot.com/language/articles/konkani.php - my mother's Konkani from Karwar sounds different from the one spoken by Goans. As a child I didn't see written Konkani (in Devanagari) other than the Goan newspapers and books.

> With the "Chinese" there is also the issue of the simplified vs the complex
> character set and then the language - cantonese, hokien, mandarin....

The spoken dialects use the same written logograms, so it is a delight to watch (say, Malaysian) Chinese conversing in English and reverting to the Chinese script when the other person speaks a different dialect. I used to know a group with Hokkein and Hakka speakers who did this when they had to explain something that they could not in English.

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