Wednesday, August 23, 2006

Microsoft slays a very small, peaceful dragon

The following events happened almost a year ago, however I first became aware of them last night while doing research for an upcoming trip to Bhutan, hence the lateness.

Bhutan, home of the yeti, is a small isolated kingdom nestled in the mountains south of Tibet and is often described as the last surviving refuge of traditional Himalayan Buddhist culture.

The Bhutanese national language, Dzongkha (literally, "language of the dzongs"), has a total of 130,000 speakers and shares a linguistic relationship with modern Tibetan. Though known as Bhutan to the outside world, in Dzongkha the country is called Druk Yul, "land of the thunder dragon." Alas, Bhutan's thunder has been stolen by a much larger dragon, China, and China's toady, Microsoft.

As Wikipedia notes:
In October 2005, an internal Microsoft memorandum barred the term "Dzongkha" from all company software and promotional material, substituting the term "Tibetan - Bhutan" instead. This was done at the request of the mainland Chinese government, who insisted the name "Dzongkha" implied an affiliation with the Dalai Lama, and hence, with Tibetan independentism. The Bhutanese, who have never been under the rule of the Dalai Lama, nor revered him especially, were dismayed by the decision. Linguists have pointed out that the word "Dzongkha" has no particular association with the Dalai Lama. The Bhutanese, leaving their dread unspoken, are no doubt more concerned by what it portends, as the PRC government periodically states that the entire Tibetan cultural region, and thus Bhutan, is Chinese territory.
According to the International Campaign for Tibet (granted, not the most objective of sources),
The use of the word Dzongkha was graded by Microsoft as a 'ship-stopper', which means that a product may not be produced in any form until the problem is resolved. Microsoft has four levels of error severity, ship-stopper being the most severe.
This may be a good time to bring up an old Bhutanese proverb:
Sampa zang na sa dang lam yang zang; sampa nyen na sa dang lam yang nyen
If the thought is good, your place and path are good; if the thought is bad, your place and path are bad.
Maybe Microsoft should heed these Dzongkha words.

Dzongkha language [Wikipedia]
Microsoft Sensitive to Chinese Pressure on Bhutan Tibet Link [International Campaign for Tibet]

Labels: , ,

:: posted by David, 2:06 PM


Add a comment