Microsoft technology preserving local languages and cultures

As I travel around the world meeting people that dedicate their life to teaching and bringing 21st skills to lifelong learners...I find it incredibly rewarding when I am in a country where they are preserving their native language with the help of technology.

Microsoft is committed to helping people worldwide benefit from technology while striving to uphold local language and cultural identity. Representing this commitment, our Local Language Program is a global initiative that provides people access to technology in a familiar language while respecting linguistic and cultural distinctions. With 4 billion speakers and more than 100 languages supported, the Local Language Program bridges the gap to technology through language and culture as well as empowers individuals in local communities to create economic opportunities, build IT skills, enhance education outcomes, enhance education outcomes and sustain their local language and culture for future generations.

As we celebrate UNESCO’s International Mother Language Day this week, the Windows team has disclosed new local language features that will be supported in Windows 8. Currently, Microsoft provides translation tools in 46 languages, and Windows and Office in nearly 100 languages…reaching more than 90 percent of the global population. Coming up on February 28th, we will release the Microsoft Translator Hub, a tool that enables the development of custom community built translation models.

Additionally, our Local Language Program offers:

  • Nearly 100 languages are supported by Language Interface Packs through free downloads for Windows, Office and Visual Studio.
  • The Microsoft Terminology Collection provides uniformity of meaning to IT terms translated to the local language.
  • Microsoft Translator as an added feature throughout many Microsoft properties translating web pages and text into a familiar language, as well as available to consumers for translating text and website content. (See my earlier blog post here.)
  • Speech recognition services called Microsoft TellMe that simplify everyday tasks through the power of natural language.
  • The Microsoft Language Development Center works on many services, such as speech synthesis technology for under-resourced languages. In addition, through extensive research and development, it creates language opportunities for people worldwide with disabilities.

There are more than 7,000 languages around the world, and half of those are projected to be in danger of being lost forever over the next century. Through Microsoft technologies represented via the Local Language Program, we hope these languages and cultures can be around for future generations to come.