Press Release: Afghan language

From: Michael Everson (
Date: Mon May 05 2003 - 17:51:33 EDT

  • Next message: Marion Gunn: "RE: OS X 10.2.4: erroneous language tagging"


    4 May 2003 (1382/2/13) Kabul, Afghanistan -- Afghanistan takes a
    major leap toward entering the age of digital communication with the
    release of an important report on Tuesday by a team of Afghan,
    Iranian and Irish computer experts and linguists. The document
    provides, for the first time, the comprehensive information needed by
    software programmers and vendors in order to bring this country's
    languages to life on computer keyboards and screens.

    "This means that Afghan culture, ideas, innovations and thought can
    now be communicated via computer, unfiltered, in local Afghan
    languages," says Ercan Murat, UNDP Country Director for Afghanistan.
    "Afghanistan will benefit, but so will the world."

    Until now, there has been virtually no way for the people of
    Afghanistan to communicate digitally in their own tongue. With no
    existing software to support the official languages, Pashto and Dari,
    the use of computers for communication has been effectively blocked,
    forcing most government and business offices to rely on typewriters.

    The report, Computer Locale Requirements for Afghanistan, was
    commissioned by the United Nations Development Programme (UNDP) and
    funded by the EU. It focuses on an esoteric but important area of
    information technology: the multilingual character encoding and
    keyboard drivers.

    "Unfortunately the big computer software providers who make fonts and
    software applications that, for instance, support Arabic, do not
    support the Afghan languages. This causes serious constraints and
    problems for all aspects of information technology for the entire
    country," says Michael Everson, project leader and consultant from
    Everson Typography of Dublin, Ireland. "This study will also help
    save existing information resources, to be shared and exchanged in
    the future. We will be urging software companies to ensure that
    Afghanistan's computing needs are met," Mr. Everson says.

    "Language support includes inputting characters on a keyboard,
    displaying them on a screen, and printing the information. The
    alphabetical order in which data is expected to be sorted, date and
    time formatting, calendars, and other cultural-specific locale
    elements are also involved," explains Roozbeh Pournader, the study's
    specialist in Arabic-script implementations, from the FarsiWeb
    Project of Tehran, Iran.

    Today less than three per cent of Kabul's population knows how to use
    a computer. In other regions the computer skills are close to zero.
    As Pashto and Dari are used by more than 80 per cent (19 million) of
    the Afghan population, computer software in these languages will help
    increase the computer skills of the Afghan people considerably, and
    be an important tool for human development in the country.

    The study offers more information about Pashto and Dari than is
    currently available for other languages in the region such as Urdu
    and Persian, the official languages of Pakistan and Iran. The study
    will be presented to members of the Unicode Consortium and to
    relevant companies such as Apple, HP, IBM, Microsoft, Red Hat, and
    Sun. It will also be available online at

    A press conference will be held at The Ministry of Communications in
    Kabul at 10:00 am on 6 May 2003.

    For more information contact in Kabul: +93 70
    280 871; in Kabul: +93 70 27 95 20 or in Bangkok: +662 288 2133.

    Michael Everson * * Everson Typography *  *

    This archive was generated by hypermail 2.1.5 : Mon May 05 2003 - 18:28:50 EDT