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The Worcester Hub

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'Die Worcester Naaf'' is the South African Philately Club's first Afrikaans display. It is long overdue. I translated the text of Gawie Hugo's display 'The Worcester Hub' and provided the translation as an appendage at the end of the display and also as a separate PDF in case readers wanted to print it out and refer to it while going through it.

This translation set me to wondering.

In South Africa a historic complaint by Boers / Afrikaners against 19th c. British colonial authorities was that English was the only official language. All Boers had to learn English if they wanted an education, justice in the courts or a job in the colonial administration. This discrimination was one of the many causes of the Great Trek. Over time, the demand that Dutch be accorded language parity with English became a political issue that shaped the identity of the emerging Afrikaner race and its antagonism to the English rule.

It was the same but worse for Black South Africans who being politically powerless had no voice to be heard.

All of this raises the question, "how far should I go?" Should I translate all English displays into Afrikaans simply to accomodate the Afrikaners, most of whom speak English better than I do Afrikaans. 'And if I do, why should I stop there?' South Africa has eleven official languages, (yes 11!). Given that I have only a smattering of Xhosa, the translation of displays into nine Bantu languages is impossible for me to do. So, aikona, (Khoi*. no, not at all!), it is not going to happen. My apologies to all. Axolo! (Xhosa. sorry!).

I generally do not sympathise with English colonialist rulers but I now better understand their motivations and achievement in making English the lingua franca of the modern age.

*Khoi is not one of SA's eleven official languages. Hopefully, it will be one day soon.

yannisl has reacted to this post.

Thanks to Hugo for making it available and also thanks Steve for the translation. I found the display exceedingly interesting, as it is within the area of my own specialization. I need to go back and read it a couple of times as there are some points I want to check and comment. One is the photocopied staright line provisional "WORCESTER". The author provides a caption that dates the cover. Are the contents and a scan of the back available? 

Your points about language are spot on. One way we humans define ourselves is through our mother tongue. Sadly we still have not found a framework for peaceful and fair coexistence for such populations. As to translations into other languages, if the pdf is created as text rather than scanned from actual pages as images, one can use Google translate or similar services to get a reasonable translation. 

I will post the second part of Gawie's Worcester material shortly. Titled 'Uit die Possak van James Perkins', (Afr. From the Post Bag of James Perkins) it should be more up your street (or right on the corner of Hoog and Napier Streets!)

It is seldom satisfactory to see a scan included in a display. Sadly, however, interesting examples of rare items can only be included by begging a scan from someone.  It is better to include a scan than write a thousand words describing it. But it is unsatisfactory, especially when it is a B/W photocopy. Your question about the date, contents and reverse of a scan are often impossible to answer when you do not have the item to hand. However, I will email Gawie and ask him to reply as best he can. I realise how important this is to you. The hand-made WORCESTER straight-line private mark is a sought after icon of Worcester postal history. It remains a bit of a mystery.

Regarding automatic translations, I am not particularly technical. I understand your points about text-based PDF files being easily translatable but the problem is that most older postal historians do not make their displays up inside a software program but rather scan their mounted A4 display sheets which they save as PDF. The majority of displays we receive are scanned, as was Gawie's. As you know, in a scanned PDF image, text cannot be copied. One must use OCR technology, an extra level of complication. Such a situation makes translation doubly difficult. I have been told that there have been great improvements in OCR technology. Am I missing something?