moyogo's little blog

Blogging about Open Source, fonts, language technology, maps and random stuff happening wherever I am.


Why “except Quebec”?

Have you ever read the rules of a contest available on the Web or other medium that was available to “any resident of the USA or Canada (except Quebec)”? If you haven't… you haven't read many rules of North American contests. Almost all contest I've seen in English have that silly, but annoying, rule.

The reasons are few. Quebec has specific legislation regarding advertising contest, for example contests must be registered just like lottery or other gambling activities. According to Natalie Gauthier’s blog (fr), there is a registration fee if the total value of the prizes exceeds 100$ CAD. It gets more complicated if the total value is more than 2 000$ CAD. There are other requirements, including the necessity for the rules to be understandable, this means, with French being the official language of Quebec, rules must be available in French.

For more informations about the details of registration see Rules respecting publicity contests from the Régie des alcools, des courses et des jeux.


Machine translation

A few blogs I read this week talk about machine translation: Pascal Grousselle (fr) echoes what Professor Veronis (fr or the english translation), this is a good one to read! They talk about the major player in automated natural languague translation, Systran and its challenger, which seems to be better for English<->French or French<->German translation. Systran is the most popular around major web portals (Altavista, Google, etc.), but recently chose Reverso for it's French portal. Pascal adds that sometimes googling expressions is a good way to find translations, I totally agree. I also find that the multilingual interwiki links between articles in Wikipedia is also useful, many articles are translations of other, if not they talk about the same topic so a lot of vocabulary can be learned that way.

Patrick Hall reminds us that translators won't be out of works for a long time. Mostly because building an automatic translation system is too much work to get bad results anyway.

If automated translation is this hard to get for major languages where we have tons of parallel and annotated corpus of texts, where is it going to be at for minor languages? Translators still have a lot of job in that regard. There is a lot of work that needs to be done to translate from and to minor languages. Why translate from English to French, which will be done by machine to a reasonable level pretty soon, when you can translate from English to Zulu or Quechua.

MT sites:
Sweet Ajax translator


Pular learner's guide

I stumbled upon this Fula learner's guide. 130 pages downloadable for free, with funny illustrations, lessons and exercices. It is also using an orthography with special characters. For a dictionary, there is the French-Pulaar lexicon, unfortunately it's not using the same orthography :(. Fula/Fulfude/Pulaar o Peul is a whole range of languages, it's a language continuum from Senegal to Cameroon really, a bit like German would be with high German, Low German, Swiss German, Saxon, (Dutch according to some), etc. Fula can also be written in N’ko, which will be in the upcoming version of Unicode (the standard for computer characters). This means Fula speakers will be able to write in N’ko, once fonts and applications catch up with Unicode.

I wasn't able to find any spellchecker or even less so any grammar checker for Fula. This is a language you should know about, it might be useful next time you play trivial pursuit™ ;-) Where are the Fula webpages?


things to do in 2006

1 Go towards the Equator, no matter how far

Just go South (or North if you're South already), live there a little, get to know people, get to know the culture first hand and share your culture, they need that too.

2 Learn an African language

This is an interesting one: Learn about an African language. Learn a bit of it. Then try to find actual stuff in the language (i.e. no translation dictionary or description of that language). Can't find much? Imagine how it is for speakers/readers of that language. Bonus: Find stuff about History in that language. Extra Bonus: Find something about Science in that language.

3 African writing systems

Learn an African writing system like N'ko, Mandombe or any other. Bonus: Find didactive material written in that script. Extra bonus: Find non religious material in that script.

To be continued...


Happy New Year Natasha!

Happy New Year Natasha... and everybody who might wonder around here ;-)

2006 has lots ahead... I'm not really sure what but from past experience I know it does ;-) I hope it balances out to be more good than bad to y'all.

Fizzylight has an interesting post about finding old friends on the Internet, as well as how to let old friends find you. I've realised that I'm gradually losing touch with old friends because I'm doing less effort everyday to keep in touch the old ways (even the new ways in fact). I guess this period of the year is a good time to get back in touch with friends you communicate with often and those with whom you do not.