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Do You Own Your Native Language? 472

Posted by Zonk
from the they-don't-like-power-point-presentations-either dept.
l2718 writes "In a new take on the reach of 'Intellectual Property,' the Mapuche Indians of Chile are accusing Microsoft of linguistic piracy. Their lawsuit alleges that Microsoft needed permission from the tribal elders before translating its software into Mapuzugun, a project which was co-ordinated with the Chilean Ministry of Education." From the CNN Money article: "The Mapuche took their case to a court in the southern city of Temuco earlier this month but a judge ruled it should be considered in Santiago. A judge in the capital is due to decide in the next two weeks whether Microsoft has a case to answer. 'If they rule against us we will go to the Supreme Court and if they rule against us there we will take our case to a court of human rights,' said Lautaro Loncon, a Mapuche activist and coordinator of the Indigenous Network, an umbrella group for several ethnic groups in Chile."
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Do You Own Your Native Language?

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  • by Codename46 (889058) on Thursday November 23, 2006 @05:43PM (#16967376)
    Be right back, about to file a language patent for "English"
  • by Ziwcam (766621)
    I'm not sure what to think of this. On one hand, any large, common language can reasonably expect to be used by any corporation or person world wide.

    On the other hand, though, if this is a small tribe and they only teach the language to other tribe members, and Microsoft intends to make a profit off using this language, then maybe it is some sort of "human rights" issue.
    • by Lord Kano (13027) on Thursday November 23, 2006 @05:49PM (#16967458) Homepage Journal
      On the other hand, though, if this is a small tribe and they only teach the language to other tribe members, and Microsoft intends to make a profit off using this language, then maybe it is some sort of "human rights" issue.

      I'm usually quick to join any group bashing of Microsoft, but this one strikes me as more than a bit stupid. By making their software available in more languages, Microsoft is performing a service. They can choose not to buy it if they don't want it. It's not like native speakers of other languages will be lining up to purchase Office in some obscure language like this.

      LK
      • by dj961 (660026) on Thursday November 23, 2006 @06:04PM (#16967638) Journal
        Lots of nations standardize their own native language and regulate its use, so I don't see why a group of people cannot regulate the use of their own language.
        • by Lord Kano (13027) on Thursday November 23, 2006 @06:19PM (#16967788) Homepage Journal
          Does Microsoft pay the government of France a licensinge fee for producing a French language version of their products?

          LK
        • by MrHanky (141717)
          But most of the nations that standardise and regulate language do it to protect the language. Most of the time, that means they enforce use of the language, for instance so that schoolchildren can get books in their particular language. Why else would the Chilean Ministry of Education be involved in the translation in the first place? What the Mapuche are doing here seems downright stupid if they actually want their language to survive.

          Then again, they might just be greedy. Or perhaps they have some weird r
        • Re: (Score:3, Funny)

          by StikyPad (445176)
          But nations are much more than just groups of people. They're groups of people with semi-arbitrary geopolitical borders.
      • Re: (Score:3, Insightful)

        by mysticgoat (582871) *

        This appears to be the equivalent of Microsoft joining forces with the US Bureau of Indian Affairs to attempt to assimilate the Navaho by messing with their language. The Navaho Nation would not approve. It seems the Mapuche do not approve, either.

        The Mapuche (People of the Land) Nation successfully resisted incursions by the Incas and then the Spanish for well over 500 years, and whether they have finally been subjugated by the current governments of Chile and Argentina remains an open question. At the m

    • by NichG (62224) on Thursday November 23, 2006 @05:49PM (#16967462)
      If the tribe only teaches the language to other tribe members, then the only profit Microsoft can make is by selling the version in that language to the tribe. Which means that if the tribe wished to deny them that profit they could simply boycott that version of the product.
      • Re: (Score:2, Interesting)

        by toetagger1 (795806)
        I beg to differ!

        The first and best source for a lot of people to learn English around the world, is through English software. That happens to be a Microsoft product more often than not. From there, people start playing games, read web pages, or interact with other communication tools, usually in the same language as the operating system.

        While I agree that this applies more to English than in many other cases, I still think that having a friend with an OS in a different language might intrigue me into learni
    • by Jeff DeMaagd (2015) on Thursday November 23, 2006 @05:56PM (#16967562) Homepage Journal
      I think this is stupid if they wish to preserve the language. If tribe members have to use a different language in order to use a computer, then those that decide to use computers may simply drop the language that the computer doesn't support.

      I don't think Microsoft has wronged anyone by supporting more languages. I don't think it makes any sense to object to Microsoft making money on a translated product. They shouldn't be expected to support the language for free, as in no charge for the software, so the alternative is to not support it at all.
      • Do we mean stupid like Muslim clerics being upset that their holy book is put in ringtones which they consider disrespectful?

        Who says they want to preserve their language? Seems like an issue of respect, or lack there of... much like calling an entire tribe's beliefs stupid. If MS is going to "support" a language, they should have some concept of that culture, who would be the primary users of that language.

        Wait, we did this before, didn't we? Taking things from native tribes that didn't belong to us jus
        • Re: (Score:3, Insightful)

          by AK Marc (707885)
          Ask permission from whom? They had permission from a government agency. How many people need to approve it? And wouldn't a language be in the public domain? Certainly everyone that inveted it is long dead. So, they took something that is not copyrighted, not trademarked, not patented, and had governmental approval, and you are telling them they did it wrong?
    • by rvw (755107)
      I think it's rather stupid. Any support for the language should be encouraged. MS did this free of charge I suppose. Only if they did a really bad job and messed up the language, then it's a problem.
    • Profit is the word. (Score:5, Informative)

      by camperdave (969942) on Thursday November 23, 2006 @06:16PM (#16967760) Journal
      They're going after Microsoft because Uncle Billy has deep pockets. There's no mention that they're also going after these:
    • Re: (Score:3, Insightful)

      by FFFish (7567)
      I'm curious as to how MS can actually profit by this translation. Sales of Mapuzugun-language software seem unlikely to be such that they'll recoup their investment.
      • by Ironsides (739422)
        Here's the basic idea. By making the software available in so many languages, they widen their user base. At some point, it becomes suicide for someone not to support a large enough user base. By keeping their user base as large as possible, they ensure that people will always be supporting windows and hence ensuring that people are buying windows.

        Basically, sell to A, sell to B at a slight loss, ensure that A continues to buy.
      • Re: (Score:3, Insightful)

        by Coryoth (254751)

        I'm curious as to how MS can actually profit by this translation. Sales of Mapuzugun-language software seem unlikely to be such that they'll recoup their investment.

        Given that even the article summary states that the work was done in conjunction with the Chilean Ministry of Education, I think you'll find that "support for all local languages" was simply a checkbox requirement the Chilean government placed on software. It doesn't matter if no one ever uses the Mapuzugun-language version: being able to check

    • by PopeRatzo (965947)
      There's something a little fishy about this story. I wish I could put my finger on it, but I'm stuffed to the gills at the moment. Today was my non-American-born wife's first attempt at a traditional Thanksgiving dinner and she tore the roof off the sucker.

      I'm trying to think about what damages the tribe could claim. Let's say they do only teach the lingo to each other. Does that make it somehow "protected"? Do they make their kids sign a license agreement when they start teaching them saying they must
    • by lagartoflojo (998588) on Thursday November 23, 2006 @09:21PM (#16969346)
      How small is small? There are 604.349 Mapuches (2002, http://es.wikipedia.org/wiki/Mapuche [wikipedia.org]) in Chile, which translates to 4% of the population. There are quite a few Mapudungun dictionaries (I own one) and many, many places in Chile have Mapudungun names (Puyehue, Llanquihue, etc.). It is only spoken by the Mapuches (I don't remember the last time I heard someone speaking Mapudungun), but it is widespread, even if us chileans don't realize it. From reading local newspapers, the reason that this "tribe" (as many people here are calling it) does not like that Microsoft has invented a written version of a language that is originally only spoken. The way it is currently written is by a "spanishization", meaning that latin letters are arranged so that when you read the word in spanish it sounds like the original word in Mapudungun (there are some Mapudungun sounds that don't exist in spanish, thus they had to "invent" letters like the umlaut). Anyway, I digress. The point is that Microsoft had to invent a way of writing Mapudungun, and since this language isn't modern, they also had to invent new words (email, configuration, etc). I think that they are complaining that this was not done in a public manner.
  • by Anonymous Coward on Thursday November 23, 2006 @05:46PM (#16967412)
    Kllskjlf KJkJLFKJG L S jksldjl!! ; lkj flkjLk!: JF; kj
    • I, for one, WELCOME our new NgeMimbwa Overlords.

      In Soviet Russia, the Language Manag'hwhabwa's YOU!
  • by Anonymous Coward on Thursday November 23, 2006 @05:48PM (#16967438)
    The actual name of the language is Mapudungun.
    • by Petersko (564140) on Thursday November 23, 2006 @05:49PM (#16967460)
      The actual name of the language is Mapudungun.

      Clearly they got it wrong to avoid being dragged into court. You, on the other hand, have opened yourself to a lawsuit!
    • by locoluis (69948)
      That depends on the alphabet you're using, since the language didn't have a writing of its own before the Spanish invasion, and there's no consensus yet on the alphabet to use. The difference between Mapudungun and Mapuzugun are the graphemes you're using to express certain consonants.

      It actually sounds: m-a-p-u-th-(*)-ng-U-n

      m, p, and n have the usual sounds. a and u like in Spanish. U is just a stressed u.

      th is like the th in "thing" or like the th in this. Voicing is irrelevant. It's usually spelled as ei
  • Human rights? (Score:2, Insightful)

    by Peden (753161)
    This seems to be the order of the day. No matter how weird a case you have, if it gets turned down in the supreme court, take it to a human rights court instead.
    • This seems to be the order of the day. No matter how weird a case you have, if it gets turned down in the supreme court, take it to a human rights court instead.

      Note sure what human rights [un.org] has to do with this. Certainly can't see anything related to human language copyright, or IP, in there.
  • by Cheapy (809643) on Thursday November 23, 2006 @05:48PM (#16967444)
    Can Jim Henson sue Google over their option to translate to Swedish Chef?

    Bork bork bork!
    • by McDutchie (151611)

      Can Jim Henson sue Google over their option to translate to Swedish Chef?

      Bork bork bork!

      No no no! That should be like this:

      Cun Jeem Hensun sooe-a Guugle-a oofer zeeur oopshun tu trunslete-a tu Svedeesh Cheff?

      Bork bork bork!

  • This shows ... (Score:4, Interesting)

    by foobsr (693224) on Thursday November 23, 2006 @05:48PM (#16967456) Homepage Journal
    the absurdity of the contemporary take on IP, and perhaps the idea behind is to demonstrate this.

    To me, a language clearly is in the public domain.

    CC.
  • Someone should sue them for using English. What the hell is their problem ?
  • Interesting... (Score:5, Interesting)

    by hahafaha (844574) * <lgrinberg@gmail.com> on Thursday November 23, 2006 @05:50PM (#16967476)
    My initial reflex would be to say that you cannot own a language. Then again, however, what if you invented a language? What if I wrote a book claiming that I invented Elvish? Could whoever holds the copyright for Tolkien's work sue me?

    And what about accents? If I start using an accent on a show, and it begins to be associated with me. Then, someone else uses it. Can I sue them?

    I am not sure, but I think that the answer is this:

    A language is a way for people to communicate. That is, it is a system known to both of them, using which they can send each other messages. One can patent such a system to prevent others from using it. I am not sure, but I do not think that the tribe patented their language. Therefore, I doubt that they have any grounds on which to sue.

    The iffy area, of course, is when does one have to pay royalties? If I create a language, patent it and teach it to you, and then, you teach it to your friend, do you or he have to pay me royalties? Here, I am not sure.
    • Re: (Score:3, Interesting)

      by tepples (727027)

      What if I wrote a book claiming that I invented Elvish? Could whoever holds the copyright for Tolkien's work sue me?

      For defamation and/or passing-off, probably. But claiming that Tolkien invented Sindarin and then writing and publishing your own Sindarin dictionary probably won't get you in trouble. As I understand it, a language is a "system" of communication, and "systems" are ineligible for copyright under United States law and the laws of other countries that have more-or-less harmonized their copyrig

      • by McFadden (809368)
        Possibly. Bette Midler v. Ford Motor Co.

        Now that's a Celebrity Deathmatch I'd like to see.

    • Artificial languages are considered property. Paramount owns klingon, for instance.
    • by a.d.trick (894813)
      If you create your own language, than you can claim ownership of it as long as no one (besides you) ever uses it. The issue is that a language is essentially created by the people who use it. So if the Mapuche leaders get the agreement of everyone who has ever spoken or written Mapuche (including those who have been dead for less than 75 years) they might have a case. Even if the leaders can resurrect the dead and get their permission, I think Microsoft's use of the language falls under Fair Use, so yeah, t
    • Re:Interesting... (Score:5, Insightful)

      by AhtirTano (638534) on Thursday November 23, 2006 @07:17PM (#16968364)

      A language is a way for people to communicate. That is, it is a system known to both of them, using which they can send each other messages. One can patent such a system to prevent others from using it. I am not sure, but I do not think that the tribe patented their language. Therefore, I doubt that they have any grounds on which to sue.

      As a linguist who works closely with native communities, let me try to offer some insight into this issue.

      Copyright law was not designed with oral traditions in mind. Therefore, a lot of previously unwritten languages face strange legal problems. For example, a person records elders telling a traditional story and publishes them as recordings or a transcribed text. The person who did the publishing has the copyright for those recordings, not the original storyteller. Thus, if the storyteller performs that same story in public, he is violating the law. Central texts of a society's religion are now the intellectual property of an outsider. There has been some work to fix this issue, but things are not perfect yet.

      Concrete example (with all distinguishing features withheld for obvious reasons): The last knowledgeable elder of a tribe died. A linguist who could not get a job in academia has many hours of recordings of this elder, but won't release them to the tribe, unless they pay him lots and lots of money. The tribe is trying to recover its religious stories, fables, tribal history, and revitalize its language, but it is all held hostage by one man who is not affiliated with the tribe in any way. The tribe's position is that they should have some rights to the material, since it has been in the tribe forever. But the law says the material belongs to the man who made the recordings. (Oh, and the tribe is reluctant to take it to court until all other options are exhausted, because they are afraid of possible precedents.)

      Also, many native religions have a different relationship between people and language. In the Judeo-Christian approach, we speak a variety of languages because we angered God and he confounded our languages, losing the original one He gave us. Now, most people here regard Babel as a metaphor; but it is a metaphor that has shaped the way we view language--as something not inherently sacred. Lots of tribes still speak the language their God gave them (from their perspective), which makes it a religious artifact. For a company like Microsoft to come in and use their language without permissions would be an intrusion on their religious rights.

      What many tribes are doing, then, is asserting intellectual property over everything related to their language (stories, words, grammar, etc.) in the hopes that they can exert some control over the outsiders who want to come in and take advantage of them. (And many times an outsider's best intentions are actually harmful to the native community, we just don't understand all the issues.)

      • Re:Interesting... (Score:5, Insightful)

        by Aladrin (926209) on Thursday November 23, 2006 @07:42PM (#16968594)

        Concrete example (with all distinguishing features withheld for obvious reasons): The last knowledgeable elder of a tribe died. A linguist who could not get a job in academia has many hours of recordings of this elder, but won't release them to the tribe, unless they pay him lots and lots of money. The tribe is trying to recover its religious stories, fables, tribal history, and revitalize its language, but it is all held hostage by one man who is not affiliated with the tribe in any way. The tribe's position is that they should have some rights to the material, since it has been in the tribe forever. But the law says the material belongs to the man who made the recordings. (Oh, and the tribe is reluctant to take it to court until all other options are exhausted, because they are afraid of possible precedents.)



        I hope that some details were changed there, or this is pretty doggone clear. That man is under NO obligation to provide them with a record of their knowledge unless he has directly committed himself to such a thing, by mouth or writing. It was the tribe to remember that knowledge. They failed. They are now trying to blame their failure on an outside source simply because that outside source could help them recover from their failure.

        Is he morally and ethically wrong to withhold that information from them? Heck yeah! Is it perfectly legal? Absolutely. Even if it the law said that he was NOT the copyright holder (as it now says) he would still be under NO obligation to help them relearn their stories. He merely couldn't profit from them without their consent. He could, however, profit from the tapes they are stored on and his services in recording and playing them back.
        • Re:Interesting... (Score:5, Insightful)

          by Mateito (746185) on Thursday November 23, 2006 @08:40PM (#16969070) Homepage
          Is he morally and ethically wrong to withhold that information from them? Heck yeah! Is it perfectly legal? Absolutely.

          The original idea behind the Law and the Legal System is to formalize the moral and ethical beliefs of the society in which they operate, and remove ambiguities to assist in the resolution of disputes. Ergo, if something is morally and ethically wrong, then it should be against the law. That something is legal, but would be regarded by "the society" and immoral and unethical, then the law is wrong and should be changed.

          Most of the legal issues we see today is because the letter of the law has become more powerful than the spirit of the law (or the intended spirit of the law). ie: the law is now pre-scriptive rather than de-scriptive.

          • Re: (Score:3, Insightful)

            Ergo, if something is morally and ethically wrong, then it should be against the law.

            Adultery? I think there are things that most people would consider morally and ethically wrong, but that aren't the state's (or the people's) concern.
  • by antifoidulus (807088) on Thursday November 23, 2006 @05:52PM (#16967494) Homepage Journal
    called "human female", please, please, PLEASE release it into the public domain so the rest of us can maybe hope to understand it!
    • by argoff (142580) * on Thursday November 23, 2006 @08:40PM (#16969068)
      OK, well...

      "lets just be friends" translates to "jump off a cliff and commit suicide"
      "I seek a man who is kind with a big heart" translates to "I seek a man who is rich with a big wallet"
      "can we talk" translates to "you're in deep shit and you're gonna get it"
      "this is cute" translates to "give me the dough, now!"
      "we feel..." translates to "I'm gonna make you feel..."
      "marrage" translates to "on a tight leash" ... hope that helps.
  • At least this puts the arguments over "freedom of speech" into perspective.

    If a company were to break a law simply by using a (albeit rare) language in their product than we know that something just isn't right with how patents, intellectual property and free speech are handled.

    Not that we'd need this trial to confirm this hunch.
  • by rubberbando (784342) on Thursday November 23, 2006 @05:54PM (#16967514)
    To me, language is just as intangable as thoughts, ideas, and concepts.

    Perhaps it would fall under the guise of 'Trade Secret' rather than be copyrighted...
  • This could be a real blow to the pig latin version.
  • Let's think for a moment. What if I sit down to write a utterly new language, and create dictionaries, an alphabet, a syntax and everything, and publishes it... I've been doing a creative task, which I should be able to claim copyright for. Can I then stop others from using that language without paying me royalties? I guess so, since I've used my creativity, which is essential to be able to claim copyright in the us... In europe, the mere 'sweat of the brow' is enough...
    • Take the example of Esperanto [wikipedia.org] - a constructed language. Although most of its words and grammar come from other international languages, building a correct sentence in it will require you to adhere to its rules. If Esperanto were a patented/IP'd concept, would any company willing to deal in it be forced to pay licensing fees to its creator?

      Or take sign language as another example. Would it be OK to ask people for a fee to use sign language, even though nobody told them about this when they learned it?

      It
    • Re: (Score:2, Insightful)

      by PainBot (844233)
      But the question was "can you own your NATIVE language ?". Obviously you didn't invent it. People taught it to you. Why should you have any rights to it, other than the right to use it ?
  • by jcr (53032) <jcr@nOspAm.mac.com> on Thursday November 23, 2006 @06:16PM (#16967764) Journal
    Sorry, but that's the first thing that sprung to mind. If I were running MS and some "tribal elders" pitched a fit about us supporting their language, I'd say "Ok, have it your way. We'll see if your language stlll exists in another fifty years."

    -jcr
    • Exactly. The tragedy of this whole issue is that other rare and endangered languages won't be used for software localizations if this makes such translations expensive.
    • by SoTuA (683507)
      "Ok, have it your way. We'll see if your language stlll exists in another fifty years."


      It has already lasted about five hundred or so years that we know of.

      (that aside, it sure is one of the most asinine lawsuits I've ever heard of)
  • by Gunark (227527)
    If the Mapuche "win", Microsoft will promptly remove their language from Office, and it will be the end of that. Arguably the value of a language is largely proportional to how widely it is used. By having it removed from the software, the Mapuche are hurting only themselves, limiting their language's potential user base.
  • C'mon (Score:2, Insightful)

    by HerrEkberg (971000)
    What is the very essence of human civilization? What is our culture? I would say that the spoken and written language is at the very heart of things, if not the most important aspect. As such it should be free for anyone to use for any purpose.

    Sure, small tribe stand up against the shade business practitioners that is Microsoft. You really *want* to be on the side of the tribe, but this time I think they are wrong. Besides, I don't think they would really care if someone else used their language, someone wh
  • by rmckeethen (130580) on Thursday November 23, 2006 @06:28PM (#16967868)

    So let me see if I get this straight -- the Mapuche tribal leaders are making the claim that Microsoft needs their permission to use a language because, well, they say they own this language? OK... later on in the article, a Mapuche leader makes the claim that he's afraid that their language might become like Latin, i.e. spoken and read only in universities, but that the solution to the problem is to make Mapuche an official state-sponsored language, alongside Spanish. Pardon me, but that objective seems diametrically opposed with the current legal action against Microsoft. Preventing Microsoft from incorporating Mapuche into Windows does nothing but retard the usefulness of the language, or am I missing something? It certainly opens up a whole can of questions about a state's sponsoring a language, but only to a select group of people, with control held by a tiny group of non-state leaders. Where's the sense in that idea? Where's the logic? Are these guys simply smoking some kind of native herb that I've never heard of, because that's the only 'logic' I can see in this whole silly situation

    I suspect that the tribal leaders have another agenda here, namely fleecing Microsoft out of a few bucks for the right to incorporate the Mapuche language into Windows. That idea I can understand, even if I don't support it. It will be interesting to see what the Chilean courts decide. On one hand, there's a cash-cow opportunity for them to make a ruling that will benefit a group of Chileans by thumbing their noses at one of the richest companies in the world. On the other hand, it sets a bad precedent for businesses, and I wouldn't even want to think about the lost economic opportunities a ruling for the Mapuche might have.

    One thing's for sure -- remind me not to go to Chile with my camera. God forbid I should snap a photo and deprive these people of their right to control their cultural heritage or something. Hell; they they sound like the kind of people who might believe that I'm stealing their souls when I take a picture. I guess those beautiful llama photos will just have to wait till next year.

    • The root cause of all of this is that the indigenous people of North and South America were so thoroughly conquered by Western societies that they now desperately try to take control over whatever they can. Trying to make their language a state language and trying to stop Microsoft from using their language are both attempts at controlling the West, and stem from the West's centuries-long control of them.
    • Re: (Score:3, Insightful)

      So let me see if I get this straight -- the Mapuche tribal leaders are making the claim that Microsoft needs their permission to use a language because, well, they say they own this language?

      I'm inclined to believe you haven't gotten it straight, because (a) the article is short in details, (b) it's a popular press article, and of course the popular press is well-known for not being extremely accurate.

      Presumably we can believe the article that the Mapuche tribal leaders are suing Microsoft. What I'm n

  • Do we side with the Mapuche because they are against microsoft, or against the Mapuche because they are attempting to protect their intellectual property?

    Seriously though, while it seems absurd that a people claim to "own" their language, many non-western cultures have a much stronger sense of intellectual property. Many cultures recognize dances, songs, stories and even names as property, to extend this to their language is not much of a stretch. That said, it doesn't cost Microsoft anything to pull suppor
  • by espilce (105654) on Thursday November 23, 2006 @06:58PM (#16968182)

    On the surface, it may seem quite absurd. However in TFA, I couldn't find any specific mention of the motives behind the Mapuche council's objection. Note that Mapuche leaders do not necessarily represent the will of every member of the tribe. However if we assume that there is support from the general populace, my guess would be that:

    1. The Mapuche and Andean people have a history of being lied to and manipulated by the Chilean government, usually in the interest of integrating them more within the European society and economy, often resulting in people being forcibly removed from their ancestral home territory so the land can be exploited for corporate gain. As a result there could be a general distrust for any type of corporation, especially those from the US. Mining and logging companies, for example, have been a major cause of displacement and environmental destruction, which has deeply affected the sentiments of native peoples toward capitalistic enterprise.

    2. There is a fear of the bastardization of their language by Microsoft incorporating and "standardizing" it. It could be that many are satisfied using Spanish language software from Microsoft.

    3. Remember that traditionally the native people of South America have a completely different world view from those of European descent. Society, religion, economy, technology are all perceived differently. It may be that the people actually don't want the opportunity of being exposed to this software in their native language. We may think it's "what's best for them," but really how can you or I decide that? The history of doing what we think is best for an indigenous culture of the Americas has been that of moving them into our world without really understanding that they may really want to keep their way of life, and "progress" as we often define it (e.g. technology) is really not beneficial from their perspective.

    To many, this may seem arrogant, or a grab for money. Without hearing a proper explanation of the motives behind this resistance, I feel nothing can be concluded. I think it's important to realize that other cultures view the predominant society from a different perspective and may see further integration as a threat to their way of living.

  • by shanec (130923) on Thursday November 23, 2006 @06:59PM (#16968192)

    What if Micky$oft hadn't included Mapudungun as a language option?

    What repercussions of anti-Mapudungun fudd would we be seeing? Would the story read, "Microsoft sued for racial profiling against the Mapuche?" Would we also see quotes from the Mapuche tribe saying, "Microsoft is nothing more than language bigots for not recognizing our people, and their language as part of the human race?"

    Either way, I'm not surprised this story came about, and I won't be surprised if it happens again in the future. One way or another, I can't help but think this all boils down to...money.

    Shane

  • So who did the translation for Microsoft? Did this native speaker get a "license" from the Tribal Elders to speak and write the language in the first place?

    Seems to me that if one even buys into the idea of IP around a long-spoken language, any native speaker has just as much right to "license" it as these Tribal Elders.

  • I do not like microsoft, but in this case the "client" is being worse.
    If they would have any clue and some morals they would use the energy and money they are putting into sueing Microsoft into making a Mapuche version of OpenOffice (or Koffice i'm easy).
    Suing ANYBODY because they want to learn/implement your language is xenophobic.
    Of course the "learner" might be wanting to learn your language only in order to con you, and in the case of Microsoft it is certainly in order to get some "public money".
    After a
  • Spiritual Concern (Score:2, Interesting)

    by ShadowC_ar (1017138)
    I guess we might me loosing the spiritual side of this story. These people might very well take as a sacrilege that fact that an "evil" company will profane their sacred language for an "evil" computer program. They're testing the legal way first.
  • For once, Microsoft does something right and adds internationalization for some little two-bit language. What does MS get in return? A lawsuit. Brilliant, absolutely brilliant.

    I suppose the natives believe that foreigners who write software in their language steal their souls, much like cameras.
  • by rollingcalf (605357) on Thursday November 23, 2006 @08:31PM (#16968978)
    Even if the language was copyrighted or patented, it would have expired already. The court should tell them to STFU.
  • by Budenny (888916) on Friday November 24, 2006 @03:41AM (#16971510)
    The UK Language Ministry admitted in response to questioning that it was investigating the possibility that pirated copies of English may have been exported to the US, Canada and New Zealand in previous centuries. 'All we are interested in doing' said a spokesperson 'is making sure our citizens get the proper returns on their intellectual property' She went on to explain that the UK had devoted millions of man years of development into raising English to its present expressive levels from its Germanic, Anglo Saxon and Norman roots.

    She agreed that what was probably needed was a test case to clarify the matter. 'We would pick some arbitrary person, like a mother in Kalamazoo, who has been observed and recorded teaching her child an illegally copied version of our language. Then we will sue the hell out of her. Win or lose, that will encourage others to pay proper royalties to the UK, and ensure that further development of our language can be properly funded'.

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