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NEW ELECTRONIC LANGUAGE FOR THE INTERNET

The UNUís Institute of Advanced Studies (UNU/IAS) will hold a press briefing and demonstration of its Universal Networking Language (UNL) project on 10 April 1998 at 15.00 hours in UNU Headquarters Committee Room 1.

UNL is an Internet plug-in that will facilitate communication between peoples with different languages. Along with its companion software, it will allow anyone with Internet access to "enconvert" text from a UN Member State language into UNL, or "deconvert" text from UNL into another language.

Developing this plug-in is important because most of the Internetís key resources - not only software but things like directories and information libraries - are in English. And e-mail, newsgroups and other text areas are generally limited to roman characters, forcing many parts of the world to use complicated phonetic versions of their languages. While the Internetís reach might be global, in practice the bulk of its vast resources are limited to use by people who can read and write English. The UNU/IAS believes that the Internet needs to become multilingual and capable of reconfiguring more of the worldís alphabets if it is to be a true facilitator of worldwide communication.

Most software programmes now available on the market can only translate one language into another, such as Japanese into Russian. UNU/IASí UNL project is taking this concept a step further by designing a truly multilingual software in which a person can include an Arabic quotation in a Chinese text that will be properly displayed on the readerís computer in Mexico City.

The project will take 10 years to complete. The first three years are being devoted to creating conversion modules for Arabic, Chinese, English, French, German, Hindi, Indonesian, Italian, Japanese, Latvian, Mongolian, Portuguese, Russian, Spanish, and Swahili. The remaining Member State language modules will be developed in the following years. The UNU/IAS is creating the prototype software, while international research institutes and industry partners will develop individual modules for their native languages.

Media representatives are cordially invited to attend. English-Japanese interpretation will be provided.

For more information about UNL, please visit the homepage of UNU/IAS at http://www.ias.unu.edu, under Science & Technology research programme.

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Additional information is also available by contacting the UNUís Public Affairs Section at:
Tel.: (03) 5467-1243 or -1246
Fax: (03)3406-7346

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