Looks like Google are now redirecting South African’s who try to get to google.com to google.co.za.
First impressions are a little laughable – you can now use Google in Afrikaans, isiZulu, Sesotho and of course Xhousea. For those international readers who don’t know, Xhousea is one of the most widespread South African languages, equivalent to Frinchi in France, Gurmin in Germany and Engarish in the UK. I’m sure Xhosa-speakers will be flocking to the new service.
Jeremy Zawodny has a post about being redirected to the Japanese version while visiting there. In principle I like the idea however. Open Source tools allow for widespread translation into people’s mother tongues, making the technology much more widespread (see for example translate.org.za), and it only makes sense for companies to do the same if they wish to remain competitive. It’s easy to get to the main Google site if you wish (the link is beneath the text area, http://www.google.com/ncr). I did some searches and the results were identical in both, so it seems to make no difference there. Of course in the South African context google.co.za is still English, and perhaps being presented with some strange characters would throw me if I was visiting Russia, for example. I’m sure though Google would correctly pick up the language from the browser.
So overall, it looks like the world’s most popular search engine is now accessible to yet more people (though I’d have a quiet word with their Xhosa translator), and that can only be good. Ananzi watch out!