Bangla in GNU/Linux : making the Penguin speak in Bengali.3

Ankur (the Gnome Translation Project has been named as such by Dr K Ghosh) is working toward supporting Bangla(Bengali) language on GNU/Linux operating system. A majority of the projects are focused on XFree86.org’s Xserver, however some are also platform independent and adds supports of other operating systems. Ankur project has as its primary goals the following:

1. Translate popular and major XServer applications
2. Providing Bangla support for some major XServer applications such as office suites, database, development tools and desktop environments like GNOME,KDE. The aim/intention is to help develop and maintain open source/free software targeted towards the Bangla speaking users.
3. Create awareness among Bangla speaking computer users .
4. Content creation with the aim of educating people about GNU/Linux and FLOSS movement.

On 02/02/2003, the project team released bspeller-0.4 Ankur is also involved in the Bengali Dictionary Project. Kaushik Ghose outlines the aims of this project as:

1. Bangla dictionary
2. Webpage interface to bangla dictionary
3. CD version or an offline version of web interface
4. Various converters to turn bangla dictionary into say ISCII, higher ASCII for display in other fonts
5. Various interface programs a) a dictionary GUI, b) a command-line version of the GUI (can act as spellchecker for other programs)

‘Progga’ states that the project is in need of volunteers so as to attain the deadline of August, 2003 (when Gnome v2.4 is scheduled to be released). Till date, approximately 30% of the project has been completed. The translation project is one of the first ‘team-oriented’ project of Ankur and is based on the Open Source Software development model. The current volunteer strength is around 10, with profiles varied across all levels. The project allows volunteers to download files, after duly notifying others using the mailing list. After completing either partially or fully, the files are posted for peer review. These are generally reviewed once and then committed to the CVS. However, in Progga’s opinion one of the major constraints to a successful completion of such a distributed project is the lack of publicity as well as the low level of motivation of the volunteers, especially Bengalis. And he states that more often than not there have been cases of people who after exhibiting initial interest have just disappeared. While this in some cases can be rationalized as to the cutting-edge technology used, in others it can be attributed to being daunted by the task at hand. Conclusions

Localization projects must follow the bazaar model of distributed development. While the robustness and the stability of this model is well established in various successful implementations, the localization and more specifically the Translation project suffers form the lack of a firmly established command and control structure. The project, till recently, was lacking a common ‘word pool’ for words that need to be part of translated strings on a regular basis. The peer review cycle along with the existing model needs to be modified and re-structured so as to ensure that the translations are consistent in quality. As is the need to create a localized set that is encapsulates the dialects and semantics of the common populace. However, these difficulties are the part of any such project. Given that within a span of 2 months more than 25% of the translation has been completed, it might not be too much ambitious to say that we can be sure to see this group meet their deadline. Till then we will be wishing them all the best. References & Links:

* Bangla Penguin Project: www.banglapenguin.org
* Bangla Gnome Translation Project - Ankur: www.bengalinux.org
* BIOS: banglalinux@yahoo.com
* Deepayan Sarkar’s page on archive of Bengali Documents on the Internet: www.stat.wisc.edu/~deepayan/Bengali/WebPage/bengali.html
* Free Banglafonts Project: http://savannah.nongnu.org/projects/freebangfont/
* Kaushik Ghose: kghose@wam.umd.edu
* Progga: abulfazl@juniv.edu
* Sayamindu DasGupta’s homepage: www.peacefulaction.org/sayamindu/
* Indian Linux Users Group - Kolkata Chapter: www.ilug-cal.org
* Prof.Venkatesh Hariharan is with the Indian Institute of Information Technology, Bangalore. He can be reached venky@indlinux.org

Sankarshan Mukhopadhyay is a Free Software enthusiast and a member of the Indian Linux Users Group-Kolkata Chapter http://www.ilug-cal.org/. His blog ‘Random Thoughts’ is at http://sankarshan.blogspot.com/ He can be reached at sankarshanm@softhome.net.

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