The implications of reading en writing language preference with regard to internet access for users in South Africa

  • Pieter Blignaut Departement Rekenaarwetenskap en Informatika, Universiteit van die Vrystaat
  • Theo Mcdonald Departement Rekenaarwetenskap en Informatika, Universiteit van die Vrystaat

Abstract

For historical reasons, English is the language of the internet. Currently, e-commerce attracts customers from all over the world. In order to do good business, websites must be accessible to clients from a variety of cultures and languages. To achieve usability for a global audience, websites must be internationalized as well as localized. Given the many cultures and idiosyncrasies of those cultures, both of these tasks are extremely complex and it is virtually impossible to do both at the same time. It could be helpful if some cultures do not object to the fact that the language of the internet is not the same as their home language. In this study the preferred language of reading and writing of various groupings of African users was determined. It was found that, whereas the Afrikaans-speaking subjects preferred to have written material in their home language, speakers of other African languages preferred English. This has enormous implications for website development as developers can focus on the usability and functionality of a site without having to spend time translating the content into a variety of languages.

Published
2006-09-22
Section
Original Research