I ran into an interesting article
today about struggles keeping the Romansch language alive in Switzerland. Romansch is one of the four official languages of that country but the population of native speakers is on a decline. One of the problems is that there are several written dialects and that causes educational problems. For example which dialect do you write your textbook in?
The solution is to standardize the language and in fact that is what is happening. They are standardizing around the version that is built into Microsoft Office. What? Yes, that's right. Microsoft has worked with linguists from Switzerland to incorporate a stardard dialect of Romansch into the spellchecker and dictionary for Office.
Microsoft CEO Steve Balmer is the son of a man born and raised in Switzerland and no doubt family tied feed into this process. But what ever the reason it is clear that having computer tools in a language can go a long way towards reductingthe need to move away from a language with a rich cultural history. The article notes that Google has a Romansch translation for their search engine as well. Large companies have the resources to make this kind of support available in their products even though there is not money to be made doing so. Sometimes contributing to the culture in which they operate is just the right thing to do.