I was charmed to learn yesterday that Google has added Irish (Gaeilge) to the list of supported languages for Gmail (the local news report is here). Not that I speak much Irish, even after having it drummed into my skull for 14 years at primary and secondary school (teaching techniques were primitive in the 1960s and 70s). But a small bit of grá (love) for the language lingers like it does for many other Irish people, even if we are only ever moved to attempt to use the language when the need arises to confuse foreigners (and ourselves, if the truth be known), mostly in bars and similar settings abroad. So off I went to select Irish as the language of choice for Gmail…
After saving the selection, Gmail reinitialized and I was back in my school days, figuring out what all the translated terms meant. As you can see, it’s only the dates and text strings in the user interface that are translated – no attempt is made to translate the content of messages as they arrive, but perhaps that’s the next trick for Google. Some interesting things can be learned from the translation. For instance, what do you think this means?
Iontach, níl turscar ar bith anseo!
Well, we discover here that “turscar” is the Irish for “spam” because the equivalent in English is “Hurray. No spam found here!”
I’ve been down this path before. Microsoft launched an Irish language pack for Windows XP in 2005. I downloaded it and upgraded the computer that our kids used at the time (no one had individual laptops or iPads then) and said nothing. Cries of anguish erupted when they found that Windows had been given an Irish makeover! It’s actually very interesting to see how long it takes to locate common user interface components when new labels are applied. After a few days the cries of pain were too much to endure and I removed the Windows language pack to revert to English.
A Windows 7 language pack is available for Irish and one is also listed in the set available for Windows 8.1. Somehow I don’t think I will repeat my previous experiment, but I will leave Gmail in Irish to see how I get on, at least for a little while.
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