Friday, April 22, 2011
Here's a somewhat lengthy (eight screens or so) article in Portuguese on a project to send books to East Timor, where Portuguese is one of the official languages and continues to ever so slightly increase as a spoken language there since independence. I often speculate here that choosing Portuguese as an official language (though not the only one) was a particularly good idea for the country, given that Portuguese is uniquely positioned in that it is both a widely spoken language, yet still small enough that choosing it as an official language is bound to bring a great deal of attention from other countries (notably Portugal and Brazil) that support the idea and are willing to back this up financially as well. Languages like English and Spanish are generally too widespread for this, as choosing one of these as an official language is nothing special and few would notice.
As for the article on Livros para Timor: according to that, 13,000 books have been sent through the project so far (over a year and a half) of which 3,000 have arrived in the country, which are then registered and sent to locations all over East Timor. The initiative began with a teacher named Joana Alves dos Santos from Portugal, who in 2009 taught at the National University of East Timor and found that it was difficult for people there to find books in Portuguese - either difficult to find or far too expensive. Fast forward a year and a half and there's a flood of books coming in...and the rest of the article is too long to summarize here. Google Translate will do a fairly good job but remember that it almost always gets units and place names wrong - Português becomes English, quilo becomes pound, and so on, so be sure to compare with the original text if something seems amiss.