[Fsf-friends] Tamil translation for "free software" - from the roots

Ramanraj K ramanraj@md4.vsnl.net.in
Sun Jan 4 16:57:28 IST 2004

Raghavendra Bhat wrote:

>I think we should not go by what people say about word sounding. 
It is not merely that, but also the meaning it conveys.  'Sudandira 
menporul' conveys exactly the same meaning as "Freedom Software" and 
that is why I suggested 'kattatra menporul'- software that is free 
without restrictions.

I am sure you agree that Tamil is a very precise language with very deep 
roots. In English, when we don't want to budge from our position, we may 
say, "I won't budge an inch".  In Tamil, we could say something like, "I 
won't budge an immi" where immi is a fraction precisely equal to 
1/1075200.  Were ancient Tamils using some kind of octal system? 
 Consider this: kal = 1/4; araikkal=1/8; veesam=1/16; kani=1/80; 
mundhiri=1/320;  keelarai=1/640; keelveesam= 1/5120; 
keelairaikal=1/2560; keelmundhiri=1/102400 etc. I am sure there ought to 
be a precise expression in Tamil, that already exists, and elegantly 
conveys the substance of free software.

Tamil writer Sujatha openly advocates free software, and uses the 
expression 'open source' literally in Tamil.  The zha Tamil PC team 
working on Tamil i10n for those who want to use *only* Tamil, prefix the 
unique Tamil zha to OpenOffice, KDE etc and are making it freely 
available to the Tamil world. visit: http://www.zhakanini.org/   As long 
as people understand that it is free software, any reference that picks 
up popularity is fine.  But, do we want free software to be known as 
'open source' in Tamil? A more elegant expression than 'sudanthira 
menporul' or 'kattatra menporul' may be possible and available in Tamil 
for 'free software'.  I am only requesting if there are better options. 
 For all I know, computers running on free software may eventually be 
called as 'zha kanini' by a majority of Tamils.

Tamil is more suitable language from an AI point of view because of very 
strong root words, and once l18n projects mature, we may have very 
interesting programs in Tamil.  Machine translations and machine 
'understanding' of Tamil text ought to be easier than with any other 
language.  The strength lies in the careful evolution of words from 
strong root words.  That is why, more attention need to be paid when new 
concepts are taken to the Tamil world.

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