Perl Helps Save Endangered Languages

To those bloggers that may have received a similar email, I have been told that it may have seemed spammy, and I apologize if so. I'm just very excited about this project and would like to see it help as many people as possible. –Michael

My name is Michael Schade, I'm a nineteen-year-old entrepreneur, student, and frequenter of the St. Louis Perl Mongers. I have been collaborating with Dr. Kevin Scannell on the free, open-source, and Perl-based, a web service that is a new method of input for over 100 languages. It allows users to type text in plain ASCII and, using statistics, it will add the diacritics, which have special meaning in many languages, automatically. Improving computer input is crucial to saving endangered languages, and we have chosen Perl to aid us with this task.

Currently, there are Mozilla Firefox, Perl, Python, and vim implementations released with more under development. We are very excited about this project and am trying to spread the word. Those that have used it already have been very happy with how it has helped them, so we want to make more people aware so that these speakers of endangered languages can be able to use and enjoy computers as we do everyday.

Read more for the press release, or visit us at for a PDF copy of the release as well as more information.


Are You the Right Type?

As of today, about 7,000 languages are spoken in the world. More than 90% of these are expected to disappear before year 2100, leaving a best case of only 700 languages. Language death is an irrevocable loss akin to animal or plant extinction–it is the loss of a repository of culture, tradition, and world view.

Nineteen-year-old entrepreneur Michael Schade, of Spearhead Development, has teamed up with Dr. Kevin Scannell, of Saint Louis University, to revolutionize computer input and help save endangered languages.

Due to inadequate keyboards, or clumsy input methods, speakers of hundreds of languages often simply leave out the accents and other special characters when typing, which leads to ambiguities and confusion. We believe strongly that speakers of all languages have the right to type their languages quickly, easily, and correctly.

We are proud to announce the free and open-source, a new method of input for over 100 languages that uses statistical reasoning so that users can type effortlessly in plain ASCII while ultimately producing accurate text. This allows Vietnamese users, for example, to simply type “Moi nguoi deu co quyen tu do ngon luan va bay to quan diem,” which will be automatically corrected to “Mọi người đều có quyền tự do ngôn luận và bầy tỏ quan điểm” after Accentuation.

To date, we support four clients: Mozilla Firefox, Perl, Python, and Vim, with more to be added shortly.

Mozilla Firefox Available today at through Mozilla AMO, the Firefox add-on brings the power of the service to anywhere on the web: blogs, web mail, social networking, and anywhere else where users input text. Please check out the short demonstration video at

Perl and Python The Perl and Python clients available on are command-line utilities that work either with argument flags or through stdin. This versatility has proven powerful, allowing to be easily integrated into any program that can operate through such inputs, such as vim.

Vim Provided by Bill Odom, co-founder of vim-geeks and previous President of The Perl Foundation, and available today on, the vim plugin implements user-customizable maps to Accentuate over visual, motions, and ranges. It harnesses the Perl or Python clients, exemplifying just how easy it is to plug in to the API.

Plans are currently underway for extending the service, including enhancements to the Firefox add-on and support for all 114 languages.  Support is needed especially for African languages, many of which use special characters. There are, for example, over a million words of Lingála on the web: blogs, news articles, Wikipedia entries, etc., but well over 95% of this content is typed in plain ASCII, despite the fact that the standard spelling system makes heavy use of diacritics to mark tone and special “open” vowels such as ɛ and ɔ.

We appreciate any assistance that we receive to improve service and keep it free, including translating the interface, hosting a server, or donating to help us maintain existing servers. Find out how to help at


After looking at the code for their perl client, I can understand why they didn't upload it to CPAN.

I just downloaded the Perl client, and --list only shows to languages (Italian and Dutch). Is that normal? If not, where can I submit a bug report?

I would have preferred to not be spammed with a similar announcement to my CPAN address.

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