03 November 2005

Microsoft outlaws Dzongkha

Ain’t politics grand?

Microsoft has barred the use of the Bhutanese government’s official term for the Bhutanese language, Dzongkha, in any of its products, citing that the term had affiliations with the Dalai Lama.


What adds insult to injury is that, according to the Bhutanese news site Kuenselonline, the government of Bhutan, with the assistance of the Swiss Development Corporation, paid US$523,000 to add support for Dzongkha. It didn’t cost Microsoft a penny. Bhutan should have spent its money on free software [e.g. KDE had both Icelandic and Dzongkha support before MS-Windows did — no half-a-million bucks involved — and currently supports 102 languages and variants]. It would probably have been much cheaper, and they would have control over it.


The word rDzong has nothing to do with the name Tsong-kha-pa, literally “man from the onion district,” who founded the dGe-lugs-pa school of Tibetan Buddhism currently headed by the Dalai Lama. Such confusion could only arise in the minds of speakers of Mandarin Chinese or Tibetan who are not literate in either Tibetan or Dzongkha.

Any Open Source project which fell prey to this kind of politicking would either fork, or be forever haunted by “the Dzongkha patches”.

Thanks to Boudewijn Rempt for the link.

No comments: