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Last Updated:  Tuesday, 25 February, 2003, 17:58 GMT
Lrn Welsh by txt msg

By Robert Andrews
BBC News Online staff

Woman using mobile phone
Welsh learners are now set to take to text
How's this for a handier way to learn Welsh?- phrases sent in the old tongue to your new mobile via text message, three times weekly.

BBC Wales' LrnWelsh service is a club and community in short message system (SMS) form, beaming regular revision sessions to the palm of your hand.

The broadcaster is using the mobile technology in addition to a new learners' website which includes an innovative translation feature and spell-check.

Launched on Wednesday and welcomed by the Welsh Language Board, it is the latest in a new line of technologies aimed at putting the language on a par with English.

Lunchtime lessons

Latest census results show a 2% rise in the number of Welsh speakers - but there are fears bilingual families are not passing the language on to their children.

BBC Wales LearnWelsh
Woman uses mobile at lunch
LrnWelsh text message club
English/Welsh dictionary
Spelling/mutation/grammar check
'Jonesville' virtual town

That crucial mobile-savvy youth age band could therefore be the biggest target for LrnWelsh, set to be joined by an SMS dictionary.

Mobiles enjoy 69% penetration in UK adults and 87% in those aged 15 to 24.

But, with "txt msgs" coming at 12pm on Mondays, Wednesdays and Fridays, the 10-week course could also be a welcome lunchtime distraction for many office workers.

Welsh Language Board Chairman Rhodri Williams said: "LrnWelsh is an important resource because of its modern and imaginative way of presenting the language to people... either looking for an introduction to Welsh or already learning the language."

Talking technology

Panasonic's new KX-TCD755 cordless phone, assembled at Newport, boasts predictive text-messaging in Welsh and 150 other languages. The system could figure on future devices.

Some new Welsh technologies
Microsoft Office spell check
Google search engine
Netscape web browser
Text-to-speech synthesis

Welsh-speaking teenagers are even using shortened words, acronyms and slang to text their friends, developing a short-hand new cultural language.

After the board exerted pressure on Microsoft in the 90s, there is now a Welsh-language spelling and grammar checker for Office XP, free of charge from the company's website.

Google, the top-rated search engine, is also available in Welsh.

Other website projects include Welsh versions of the Netscape browser, a Welsh-Catalonian translator and a text-to-speech synthesiser.

Climber saved by text message
21 May 01 |  Wales
Hppy bthdy txt!
03 Dec 02 |  UK News
Mobile spam on the rise
08 Jul 02 |  Science/Nature
Mystery of missing text messages
25 Mar 02 |  dot life

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