In November 2010, YouTube announced it was adding African vernaculars Kiswahili and Amharic to its repertoire of languages. And today, it announced that it’s throwing another two African tongues into the mix – IsiZulu and Afrikaans.
Ian Parsons & Mthokozisi Dlalisa – Afrikaans & IsiZulu specialists, Google South Africa, said in the blog post:
“For many Africans online, the Internet is something created by other people which we simply consume. We see this with many African languages that have a dominant presence offline (on radio, TV, newspapers), yet are underrepresented on the web today. Seeing your language appear on global services like Google Search, YouTube, or Gmail can help change that. Suddenly, you become part of the conversation.”
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This now means YouTube is available in 51 languages, and YouTube hopes the latest additions will help it tap into many more millions of users who aren’t fluent in English and, thus far, have not been able to use the video-streaming service. If you want to check out the site in Afrikaans or IsiZulu, you can visit Youtube.co.za, and at the bottom of the page, click on language and select Afrikaans or Zulu.
IsiZulu, or simply ‘Zulu’, is spoken natively by about 10m people, most of whom are in South Africa, though there are some speakers elsewhere such as in Zimbabwe, Lesotho and Swaziland. And Afrikaans is spoken natively by about 7m people, mainly in South Africa and Namibia.
YouTube launched in South Africa in May 2010, and it says views have increased by 175% in the past year, so it will be interesting to see how the traffic goes after this.