[LINK] Still marginally OT: Re: NSW Election Multilingual information is not accessible

Roger Clarke Roger.Clarke at xamax.com.au
Wed Mar 9 21:49:42 AEDT 2011

I'm loving this thread about the all-but-intractability of language 

I'm nowhere near Ash or Marg(h)anita's levels, but I do have a 
half-second language (German), and a one-tenth-third language 

German-speakers call Swiss German a Halskrankheit - throat disease. 
They have a point.  Oh and by the way, Swiss German has only become a 
written language in the last 50 years.  Think through the 
implications of that.

Added to that, I delighted in my struggle to teach Hong Kong Masters 
students why the representation of Chinese characters requires 2-byte 
Unicode, and how it does it, and why glyphs are significant, even in 
e-communications.  They nodded their approval that I'd more-or-less 
got the point that needed to be made.  (But they're polite people, so 
can I be *sure* I'd got it??).

I can even recognise a Chinese character.

Precisely one.

But a significant one.

It's the doughnut with a vertical line through the middle of it.

It's the single-character-rarity that represents the location on Hong 
Kong Island called in English, but well, I guess also in Cantonese, 

It's also 'central' to the notion of Chung man / Zhong wen or 'Middle 
[Kingdom] Writing' (or mother tongue) - which is one of the crude 
devices that was used to subjugate Chinese for the odd millennium or 

And until then I thought 'Crouching Tiger, Hidden Dragon' was romantic??

I was delighted to get on top of the notion of 'glyph', because it's 
very difficult to grasp, and to convey, when you and they are English 
readers/writers.  The 'Goedel / Escher / Bach' page on 'The Quality 
of A-Ness' is the only time I've ever seen the job done properly.

... And yes, I acknolwedge that I'm a hold-out for 7-bit ASCII email. 
But who ever promised to not be a hypocrite  (%-)}

At 20:51 +1100 9/3/11, Ash Nallawalla wrote:
>>  -----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 
>(«-ëÊÍ «) with enough precision compared to Urdu («-¯«Ê? «), 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.
>Link mailing list
>Link at mailman.anu.edu.au

Roger Clarke                                 http://www.rogerclarke.com/
Xamax Consultancy Pty Ltd      78 Sidaway St, Chapman ACT 2611 AUSTRALIA
                    Tel: +61 2 6288 1472, and 6288 6916
mailto:Roger.Clarke at xamax.com.au                http://www.xamax.com.au/

Visiting Professor in the Cyberspace Law & Policy Centre      Uni of NSW
Visiting Professor in Computer Science    Australian National University

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