African ATM offers eight languages

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21 Responses to “African ATM offers eight languages”

  1. brodiec says:

    The ATM I used in Madrid would localize to pretty much any language spoken in the EU. Here in Canada if you are French speaking the ATM or POS pad localize en Français once you swipe your card. Don’t lots of US ATMs work in Spanish too?

  2. pandaterror says:

    I’m a South African resident. My home language is Afrikaans but I’m fluent in English too. Almost everyone here can speak at least two languages.

  3. nonsapiens says:

    Yeah, this is an ABSA ATM (I think it stands for Amalgamated Banks of South Africa); the largest of the four main banks found in the country.

    We’ve officially got 11 official languages, but also recognised as languages are Fanakolo (hybrid Pidgin Zulu/Xhosa/English/Afrikaans, mostly spoken by mineworkers from different countries and backgrounds), as well South African Sign Language.

    I myself can speak English and Afrikaans, and even a smattering of Zulu, but most often, if you use an ABSA ATM card, it will default the machine to the home language you specified when you set up the account.

    Also, as a side note, bank charges in South Africa are some of the highest in the world (along with telecommunication, which is the highest in the world, bar none). Might have something to do with the fact that there’s been a massive spate of ATM bombings; criminals (many from the mines) use mine explosives to tear apart an ATM, and then run off with whatever cash they can get. Fun.

  4. nonsapiens says:

    I bet if there had been more than eight buttons, there’s a pretty good chance there’d be more choices…

    Surprised French isn’t on there.

    French is spoken in South Africa at all, it’s not recognised as locally-spoken language, other than by French tourists.

  5. pumeza says:

    It’s an interesting experience to see something that’s a completely take-for-granted part of my everyday life flagged “Awesome!” on BoingBoing. I wonder what else I’m taking for granted?

    To add to Nonsapiens @19, French is spoken in West Africa, not South Africa. South Africa is a country. West Africa is a subregion of a continent that includes French-speaking countries like the Congo, Senegal, Cote d’Ivoire, Cameroun, etc etc. If you hear French on an SA street it’s spoken by a either a tourist or a migrant/refugee from one of the above.

  6. Crash says:

    Spanish and, depending on the region, often also Chinese, Japanese, Korean, etc.

    An ATM like this is an impressive display, but I imagine it must be quite costly to do all those localizations for every software update.

  7. nonsapiens says:

    Hey Pumeza, typing error on my part, meant to say French is not spoken in South Africa at all.

    /I live in Northcliff, JHB

  8. mvarick says:

    I live in NYC. What I’ve noticed with ATMs here is the languages provided in the various boroughs shows what dominant language groups are in certain areas.

    Even more interesting is how quickly language choices on ATMs in certain areas change within a matter of months depending on the influx of new, mostly immigrant, groups.

  9. george57l says:

    Apparently South Africa has 10 ‘official’ languages (or so I was told recently by a resident). So this ATM is probably non-compliant with some assortment of government regulations!

  10. jimphelps says:

    Doesn’t it seem like there should be a “Surprise Me” choice?

    A friend who is a linguist said that some children in South Africa grow up learning 6 languages (Mom’s tribal, Dad’s tribal, Neighborhood tribal, Predominant tribal at school, English, Afrikaans).

  11. agy says:

    There are 11 official languages and there has been debates whether sign-language should be included as the 12th.
    Regarding the comments about expenses – don’t forget that official government documentation has to be published in all of these languages as well.

  12. thomasoa says:

    My Dad’s ATM on the far north side of Chicago has this many language options.

  13. BSD says:

    Pfft. The ATM on my corner (and most in-bank ATMs as opposed to the ones in bodegas, candyshops, delis, etc.) has 6 languages and a “More Languages” button.

    In other neighborhoods, of course, the default language options are customized for the neighborhood.

  14. moremagic says:

    I live in South Africa and although I use these atms at least twice a week I still find it difficult to locate “English”.I tried it out in Xhosa once, and to tell you the truth it wasn’t that bad! Kinda like testing yourself by applying a different language to your cell phone.

  15. Chakolate says:

    My ATM in Chicago lists ten languages. Afrikaans isn’t among them, though.

  16. qousqous says:

    And I thought the common offering of English, French, Chinese, Japanese, Punjabi, and Italian here in Vancouver was impressive.

  17. Paul D says:

    At least one Japanese bank has machines in Japanese, English, Chinese, Korean, and Portuguese. Not bad for a monolingual country.

  18. thisgeek says:

    The photo is of a South African ABSA (http://www.absa.co.za) ATM.

    South Africa has 11 “official” languages.

  19. stefanor says:

    Apparently South Africa has 10 ‘official’ languages (or so I was told recently by a resident). So this ATM is probably non-compliant with some assortment of government regulations!

    We have 11 official languages (as stated in several other comments). However the languages are geographically discrete, so most provinces elect only to officially use the languages of their local people. This means that Western Cape (for example) only has 3 official languages (for all intents and purposes).

    This ATM would most likely be *more* than complaint, and more to the point, the same model could be used all over the country.

  20. OriGuy says:

    I finally found out what “Hmoob” is on the Wells Fargo ATMs:

    http://itre.cis.upenn.edu/~myl/languagelog/archives/000505.html

    They have a bunch of languages, probably English, Spanish, Vietnamese, Hmong, Chinese, Russian, and Filipino, at least around San Jose.

    I thought it was cool when I went to Sint Maarten a few years ago (before the euro). They had French, Dutch, English, and Papiamento. They spat out dollars, francs, and guilders.

  21. Stuart Ellis says:

    I bet if there had been more than eight buttons, there’s a pretty good chance there’d be more choices…

    Surprised French isn’t on there.

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