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Last Updated: Saturday, 24 May, 2003, 10:48 GMT 11:48 UK
Software could spell success
School pupils
A spell checker would aid Gaelic learners
Software giant Microsoft is being asked to help stop the decline in Scottish Gaelic.

The number of people speaking the language in Scotland has fallen by more than 10% in the past decade.

Microsoft is being asked to provide a spell checker in Gaelic so that people can become more confident about using the language.

The Gaelic association Comunn na Gaidhlig believes it would be an important development.

It would be a rite of passage for what is a lovely, lyrical, delicate language
Leo McNeir,
European Language Institute

Chief Executive Donald Martin said: "It is going to give Gaelic status, it will have parity with English in terms of a tool that is being used in IT.

"It is also going to help people who are learning the language."

The last census in 2001 showed that 58,500 people could read, speak and write Gaelic, down from 66,000 in 1991.

A team from the European Language Institute, which specializes in writing dictionaries for all languages used by local governments in Europe, has already started developing a database of 65,000 Scottish Gaelic words for a trial version.

Leo McNeir, who is leading the language team, will need to build the lexicon up to 250,000 words for the final version.

Coimpiutar - computer
An t-eadar-lýon - the internet
LÓrach-lýn - website
Post-dealain - email

Microsoft would then have to test it to make sure it does not clash with any of its software packages, a process which could take up to two years.

"This would be a real coming of age for Scottish Gaelic," said Mr McNeir.

"It would be a rite of passage for what is a lovely, lyrical, delicate language."

Surfers can already access the internet using a Gaelic browser released by Opera software.

Gaelic welcome in store
17 Mar 03  |  England
MSPs approve Gaelic bill
06 Mar 03  |  Scotland
The mother tongue lives on
13 Feb 03  |  Scotland
Gael warning over language
04 Sep 02  |  Scotland


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