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EDITIONS
 Monday, 30 December, 2002, 16:11 GMT
Microsoft embraces Nynorsk language
Home Edition of Windows XP
Microsoft software available in more than 30 languages

The software giant Microsoft has agreed to translate their popular Office software into a language very few people know exists.

A cafe in Oslo
Nynorsk has less than 400,000 everyday users
It is called New Norwegian, or Nynorsk, and it is Norway's second official language.

But the new language version did not come about without a fight.

The world's most used office software is already available in more than 30 languages.

Alternative language

Nynorsk was created in the late 1800s as an alternative to the Danish-influenced official written Norwegian language.

It remains obligatory to learn in schools, and it must be used by a certain number of government employees.

But with less than 400,000 everyday users, the Microsoft company did not initially respond to calls for making their Office software available in New Norwegian.

After all around six million Catalan speakers in Spain and France are still fighting for their own version of the software.

Boycott threat

In both instances, Microsoft pointed to the large cost of translating computer programs.

But the Norwegians had an ace up their sleeve.

The main organisation working for the Nynorsk language got most of Norway's high schools to threaten to boycott all Microsoft software if they didn't come up with a New Norwegian version of Office.

Many more users of minority languages will no doubt be inspired to fight a renewed battle for their own version of the computer software.

And with more than 1000 different languages in use in the world today, that could have quite an impact.


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