Mozilla Firefox, now in Gujarati and Punjabi

Sunday, 22 June 2008 - 10:41pm IST
Gujarati and Punjabi have become India’s representative languages on the internet. At least, that’s what one can conclude after the release of Mozilla’s latest upgrade of its popular browser.

Firefox 3 was released in 46 languages. However, Hindi was unable to make the cut

Gujarati and Punjabi have become India’s representative languages on the internet. At least, that’s what one can conclude after the release of Mozilla’s latest upgrade of its popular browser.

Firefox 3, an open-source browser, is a competitor to Microsoft’s Internet Explorer and Apple’s Safari. It was released on Tuesday in 46 languages.
However, the absence of Hindi as one of the languages is most surprising considering that Gujarati and Punjabi have made the cut.

The release in different languages is the latest weapon used by Mozilla in its fight against Microsoft’s Internet Explorer, by far the most popular browser. However, if Firefox 3’s downloads is anything to go by, Microsoft can’t afford to rest on its laurels. Within four days of its release, a staggering 14 million downloads of Firefox 3 were registered.

There have been a phenomenal 6000 add-ons (tools for customising the browser) and 2000 more add-ons on the cards.

Speaking about the absence of Hindi, and more surprisingly the presence of Gujarati and Punjabi versions, Chris Hofmann, a Mozilla spokesperson said that there were no selection criteria for the languages for Firefox. “All of our localisation efforts are purely volunteer-driven. Volunteer translate the software into their native languages,” Hoffman said.

It’s not that Mozilla hasn’t given Hindi a chance. In fact, if you visit the addons.mozilla.org website, you will find language packs for Hindi and Tamil. However, these packs need to be developed by ‘motivated’ individuals into the respective Firefox languages.

“They (Gujarati and Punjabi) were not given any preference. As a free software project, anyone can access our source code and localize it in the language they choose. We have active community members working on Hindi and Tamil. They are not officially shipped as a version of Firefox yet, but these volunteers are working hard to get their translations ready for distribution.”

As far as Marathi is concerned, it doesn’t even have any language packs. “A group of volunteers are working on developing Marathi tools,” Hoffman added.

Mozilla though admits that compared to other regions, its growth has lagged in India.
However, Mozilla wants it to change. “We will work as much as possible with our Indian community members to make sure all of their needs are met as they prepare their translations for inclusion in our official release process. We are also actively reaching out to recruit people to work on localisations for Indian users,” Hoffman said.


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