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Author Topic: Intellectual Property ... in a Language?
Dagonee
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I can't even begin to wrap my mind around this.

quote:
SANTIAGO (Reuters) -- Mapuche Indians in Chile are trying to take Microsoft to court in a legal battle that raises the question of whether anyone can ever "own" the language they speak.

The row was sparked by Microsoft's decision last month to launch its Windows software package in Mapuzugun, a Mapuche tongue spoken by around 400,000 indigenous Chileans, mostly in the south of the country.

...

The Mapuche took their case to a court in the southern city of Temuco earlier this month but a judge ruled it should be considered in Santiago. A judge in the capital is due to decide in the next two weeks whether Microsoft has a case to answer.

"If they rule against us we will go to the Supreme Court and if they rule against us there we will take our case to a court of human rights," said Lautaro Loncon, a Mapuche activist and coordinator of the Indigenous Network, an umbrella group for several ethnic groups in Chile.

Can anyone make sense of this for me? What human right are they speaking of?
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Euripides
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Well, I think we all know that intellectual property violation is a sketchy case to make, but the tribe has ulterior motives. Namely, to preserve their culture by slowing the influx of technology. They see it as an attack on their way of life.

This quote:

quote:
If not, we fear it runs the risk of following the same destiny as Latin, spoken only in universities
probably gets more to the point of what they are fighting for.
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Dagonee
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But that quote is about their goal to make the language an official language of Chile, not about why Microsoft shouldn't translate Windows.
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Shawshank
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Wow....

I don't know how anyone could consider language to be intellectual property. Property must be owned (I'm just assuming here- you are the legal expert here Dag- so tell me if I'm wrong)

Kanguage is created when formerly unrelated languages start to collide and combine into something a little bit different (something that I wouldn't be surprised to see happen if the US spoke another language combination of Spanish and English; or maybe Chinese like in Firefly within a few centuries)

But... um... yeah.

Yeah.

Wow. J...Just wow.

...Yeah. Yeah.

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Shawshank
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I also don't understand why they think that a language that about $% of the population speaks needs to be made an official state language.

I would think it would have to be at least 30% before that made any sense at all.

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Dagonee
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It's not so much the legal aspect (it's going to be a novel theory no matter what, but I can wrap my head around that). I don't get the motivation. Do they just want some money? Is there a religious taboo against others learning it (which would fly in the face of it being an official language)?

What?

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Euripides
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quote:
Originally posted by Dagonee:

But that quote is about their goal to make the language an official language of Chile, not about why Microsoft shouldn't translate Windows.

Sure, but I think it's more telling of the way the Mapuche tribe sees things, and by extension their rationale for bringing Microsoft to court. I think they would have used any other law of statute to fight Microsoft, if they thought it applied.
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Euripides
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quote:
Originally posted by Dagonee:

It's not so much the legal aspect (it's going to be a novel theory no matter what, but I can wrap my head around that). I don't get the motivation. Do they just want some money? Is there a religious taboo against others learning it (which would fly in the face of it being an official language)?

What?

I'm guessing the Mapuche Indians are afraid that the accessibility of computers will turn their young away from their traditional culture. It's the story of every technologically 'primitive' (for lack of a better word) culture where modern Western technology is present.
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Shawshank
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Yeah- I tend to think the only reason they want to do this is because they are extreme cultural isolationists. And while they might have been able to fend off the Incas and Spanish conquerors- it's probably a foregone conclusion that their tribe cannot stand up to the uber power of mega multinational that is Microsoft. Oh and of course the instant globalizing power that computers and the internet offer people from around the world.
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Dagonee
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But the goal of making it an official language seems incompatible with making it available on windows, doesn't it?

What I can't wrap my head around is the incompatibility between the two things they claim to want.

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Euripides
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I'm not sure they are incompatible - how would making their language the official language of the nation undermine their culture?
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mr_porteiro_head
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Wanting their language the official language of the country runs contrary to their supposed cultral isolationistic motivations.
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Euripides
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I don't think they are cultural isolationists. They want their culture preserved, and avoid adopting technology which would undermine it. So how would Chile recognising their language as official undermine their culture?
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Shawshank
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Maybe they just want to make their culture stronger and less diluted. Making it a state language would seem to place it above other languages (I'm assuming there are other "native" languages of Chile) while the influx of technology in their own language would be in a way diluting it.
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Dagonee
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quote:
They want their culture preserved, and avoid adopting technology which would undermine it.
I can't find any support in the article for this being a means to further an anti-technology agenda. In fact, I don't see any indication for their motives at all, other than their wanting to be consulted. It's not even clear they don't want a native-language version of Windows.

In fact, if it became an official language, then there would almost have to be native-language support in any computer systems used by the government.

Also, according to wiki, only half of the 400,000 speakers use the language regularly.

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Euripides
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That was my best guess as to their motive, based on the article and my knowledge of similar cultures. I didn't claim that they had a neo-luddite agenda, only that they seemed to wish to avoid technology which might undermine the potency of their culture.

Initially I saw their indignation at not being consulted as a defence of their intellectual property position (i.e. to help portray their language as their property).

As for official language and computer support, you certainly have a point. Only then, they would be initiating the change, and presumably this would help Mapuche Indians enter government. But you're right in that this would also dilute their culture, considering they are a 4% minority, according to the article.

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Euripides
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Yes, it would have harrowing implications. God help us (metaphor) when the only publicly owned language left is Newspeak!
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Shawshank
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I only just read 1984 this past summer and I think it was Newspeak that scared me the most in that book. That more than anything else was the most frightening.
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littlemissattitude
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The part of me that was educated as an anthropologist can see why the Mapuche would want to have control of their culture, including what is done with their language. Although, unless they are trying to remain traditional and not dependent on technology (and, as you said Dag, there doesn't seem to be any indication of that in the article you linked to), I can't quite see the point in not wanting computer access in their native language.

The cynic in me, however, suspects that they see deep pockets in the form of Microsoft and have an idea that if they win their case they can collect a lot of money.

As far as establishing "ownership" of a language...I can only see bad things coming out of any precedent supporting that principle.

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Sterling
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Could this be nothing more than a play for publicity? It's certainly gotten them onto at least one news service...
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Teshi
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As an English person, I demand Microsoft reimburse me for publishing in English. In fact, I demand that every person not a british citizen pay me royalties when they speak.

"... and that's how I earned my first million."
"Wow, really grandma?"
"Ohoho! That's three words there, Betty, now you owe me twenty five cents!"

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Dagonee
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quote:
The part of me that was educated as an anthropologist can see why the Mapuche would want to have control of their culture, including what is done with their language. Although, unless they are trying to remain traditional and not dependent on technology (and, as you said Dag, there doesn't seem to be any indication of that in the article you linked to), I can't quite see the point in not wanting computer access in their native language.
Maybe they're concerned about the dialect that will be used.

quote:
The cynic in me, however, suspects that they see deep pockets in the form of Microsoft and have an idea that if they win their case they can collect a lot of money.
Well, this is my first thought as well, but I'm trying not to be such a cynic. [Smile]

I don't doubt that they've put out a more coherent message. I wish CNN had covered more of it.

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