Instant messaging now in Afrikaans

Published on Tectonic

The open source instant messaging (IM) program Pidgin is now available in Afrikaans, thanks to the efforts of

The translation was carried out by, winner of the 2006 ICT Achiever’s Award for the top NGO to bridge the digital divide (see story). According to Dwayne Bailey, director of, it is his company’s belief that computer programs are tools that should be adapted to users – not the other way around.

The localised version of Pidgin gives users access to all of the program’s features, so that South Africans can chat in Afrikaans without having to use the software in English.

Pidgin is a next-generation instant messenger which can communicate over multiple networks and through multiple IM services. Pidgin can interact with Google Talk, MSN, Jabber, AIM, Yahoo, and many other protocols.

Bailey explained that the translation of the software took about three months, including the checking and reviewing process. Efforts to localise the instant messenger into all of South Africa’s eleven official languages are under way., which has been translating open-source computer software into South Africa’s eleven official languages since 2001, has established a patron programme to allow companies and individuals who are passionate about language to support and increase the scope of this work.

Particular areas where help is needed is in the other nine official languages, where volunteers are lacking. With eleven official languages there is much work to be done and Pidgin needs to be translated into at least nine other languages. welcomes volunteer translators to contribute online at

Pidgin is free software and can be downloaded from:

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