The autonomous government of Catalonia, the Generalitat, has launched an extensive advertising campaign to encourage the use of Catalan in the computing world. It has earmarked $435,000 to persuade multinationals such as IBM Corp, Ing C Olivetti & Co SpA, Apple Computer Inc and Fujitsu Espana SA to produce their computer programs in Catalan; and […]
The autonomous government of Catalonia, the Generalitat, has launched an extensive advertising campaign to encourage the use of Catalan in the computing world. It has earmarked $435,000 to persuade multinationals such as IBM Corp, Ing C Olivetti & Co SpA, Apple Computer Inc and Fujitsu Espana SA to produce their computer programs in Catalan; and it has started a scheme where users can change their programs from Castilian or English to Catalan free of charge. Ami Pro 3.01, Windows 3.1. and WordPerfect 6.0 have already been produced in Catalan. In order to do this, the government’s Departments of Industry & Energy, and Culture had previously signed agreements with both Microsoft Corp and Apple. A spokesman from the Deptartment of Industry said around 100 applications are being converted every day. Over the last two years, the Generalitat has given around $441,000 in translation subsidies to companies, which have themselves invested around $2m in the initiative. The importance of Catalonia in the Spanish computing market has not gone unnoticed and the leading companies in the sector appear to be bending over backwards to help the government’s campaign. The government uses Apple’s Catalonian operating system which was made available in 1992. Microsoft has also jumped at the opportunity to go Catalan, since some 35% of its Windows sales are made in the province. The Generalitat has seen Windows as a foundation stone on which to build, since if users have the operating system in Catalan, they will also want word processing programs, databases and spreadsheet packages in the same language. Microsoft has been working on the development of Catalan products for two years now, and Windows 3.1. follows on the heels of MS-DOS 5.0 in Catalan, launched in 1992. Within a few months Excel 5.0 for Windows and Word 6.0, the latter complete with dictionary and thesaurus, will also be available, as will Chicago when it appears in 1995. Meanwhile, Unix is not being left behind.
Hewlett-Packard Co, Fujitsu and Compagnie des Machines Bull SA have joined the list of companies including IBM Corp and Data General Corp that are translating their Unix versions into Catalan. Oracle System Corp and Informix Software Inc are also busy on their databases, and WordPerfect 6.0 for Windows is already out. As a special offer, WordPerfect Corp is exchanging WordPerfect 6.0 for Windows in Castilian for the Catalan version for just $55. For another $36 users can get a Catalan grammar corrector, WordVer, developed by Digec SA. The Generalitat sees the spellers, syntactic and grammar checkers as playing a fundamental role in the normalisation of the language which was once outlawed, accounting for the relatively few people can now write good Catalan. And as an indication of how seriously Catalan is taken in Catalonia, some Castilian-speaking parents have complained that their children receive only two hours’ tuition a week in Castilian when they study it as a subject only as much time as they would get studying French, English or German.