Google Search now in Setswana

Staff Writer
Linguist Dr Thapelo Otlogetswe together with some professionals has created a Google Search interface tool that allows a user to access Google in Setswana.

In an interview with Mmegi yesterday, Dr Otlogetswe said working together with Pontsho Puoesele, who works for an IT company in Botswana, Gao Mosweu, an employee of the Innovation Hub, they created the Setswana version of Google search.  They also worked with 10 University of Botswana (UB) final year students, it has been revealed.

For every user in Botswana, the home page that comes out when you open the Google search engine website,, you will be met by the Setswana-written homepage.

"It's like a window that you use to look into the internet.  It opens a door for you to go inside the net to search for whatever you are looking for.  But also for those who might want to the usual Setswana version, you can click somewhere at the bottom where it guides you to the normal English homepage.  Other pages (besides home page) are in Setswana though," said Dr Otlogetswe.

The linguist who teaches language at UB said in his view, there is a general guiding principle, which determines a lot of what he does to strengthen and equip the Setswana language. 

The Google Setswana project, he said, gives the language dignity and relevance, especially that it has a technological function.

"To stretch it to areas where it has

not been used before like internet and e-mail; to internationalise it, to have anyone accessing wherever they are. 

It also empowers Setswana.  Botswana is not only used in Botswana, where it is a national language. It is one of the eleven official languages in South Africa, taught in Namibia and a minority language in Zimbabwe," he said.He said that they intend to translate other Google software like G-mail so people can access it using Setswana.

Explaining the importance of the Setswana Google interface tool project, Dr Otlogetswe said the Academy of African Languages (ACALAN), an African Union arm tasked to develop regional cross-border languages, has chosen Setswana.  He added that besides Setswana, Chichewa spoken in Malawi, Zambia and Mozambique has also been chosen by ACALAN as languages to be developed to the level of official languages of AU.  At the moment AU official languages are English and French.

"This Google translation supports that kind of work.  So for me it has a much critical, regional and broader African relevance," he said.

The idea, he said, is part of Google's (the company) idea and plan to have its services in regional and local languages, something that gives pride to people (whose languages are used in Google) all over the globe.



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