Localisation of Ubuntu in Piedmontese language

Matthew East mdke at ubuntu.com
Sun Oct 19 11:28:28 BST 2008


I'm copying in the ubuntu-translators mailing list, and the Italian
translators mailing list which are the most appropriate places to have
this discussion. I'm also copying in the Italian Community Council for
their thoughts. Please see my reponse below.

On Sun, Oct 19, 2008 at 8:07 AM, Sabine Emmy Eller
<s.eller at voxhumanitatis.org> wrote:
> Hi Matt,
> Burgundavia in the LoCo chat told me that probably you are the best
> person to talk to right now.
> Bèrto, who is copied in this e-mail, has already localized some bit of
> Ubuntu into Piedmontese language using Launchpad. Now once we have some
> files ready how can they be committed? How can we get them integrated
> into the Ubuntu distro?
> Piedmontese is one of the languages we work with - others will include
> Neapolitan, Sicilian, Mainfränkisch, Diola, Serrer and step by step
> further less resourced languages.
> While we, over time, will hopefully get contacts to people who can help
> with many of the less resourced languages, we need someone who can help
> on the technical end to get the translations into the distro.
> Of course it is obvious that we start to do things step by step,
> initially ourselves, to see where there could be problems for other
> people and to be able to explain.
> We really hope that you can help us with Piedmontese.

The starting point for information about translation of Ubuntu is here:


In particular, information about setting up a new language can be found here:


However, I think we should have a careful discussion about whether it
is genuinely appropriate to localise Ubuntu in Piedmontese, Sicilian,
Neapolitan and so on, which are essentially dialects.

I know that there are plenty of linguistic arguments why these
dialects are important and why some (from a linguistic point of view)
may be considered languages in their own right. I'm also a passionate
believer that the dialects form a vital part of Italy's culture.

However, the Italian state classifies these languages as dialects, and
not languages. Italian is the language which is taught in schools. All
Italians who learn how to read, are taught standard Italian. As far as
I'm aware, the number of Italians who could read a dialect but *not*
standard Italian is either zero, or else incredibly few. Road signs
are not translated into dialect.

For that reason, I don't think that it's appropriate to localise
Ubuntu into Italian dialects. The number of people it would benefit is
minimal and I don't think it would benefit education at all because
dialects are generally not part of Italian education. They reflect a
different part of Italian culture.

We could easily have a long and interesting discussion about the
importance and role of dialects in culture and society, and the lack
of a genuine distinction between dialects and languages, but in the
end I don't think that is relevant to this question. The important
point is that Italian is the language taught in schools all over
Italy, and that the Italian state does not recognise dialects as
official languages [1].

[1] Although the Italian state does recognise Friulano, Ladino and
Sardo as minority languages, they are also not taught in schools to
the best of my knowledge.

Matthew East
gnupg pub 1024D/0E6B06FF

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