Re: Translation of program names

On Fri, Oct 31, 2003 at 01:51:25PM +0100, Danilo Segan wrote:
> Murray, I understand that, but I think you're biased because you *can*  
> read Latin script, and you can read "Epiphany". If that name was  
> "Спознаја", I think you wouldn't mind it being translated to  
> "Epiphany", or at least transliterated to "Spoznaja". I don't really  
> know why did American papers and officials write about 'KGB' (khey-jee- 
> bee) at one time, when there's no such thing -- there was "КГБ" (and  
> it's read entirely differently).

It seems you're arguing two separate things:

  1) Application names should be marked translatable so they can be
  2) Application names should be marked translatable so they can be

I think (1) is not as controversial as (2).  The Hebrew translator for
one of my programs was very firm on (1), saying that it made no sense
for most of the application to use Hebrew characters but have a few
non-Hebrew characters scattered in it.  I think I agree with his
reasoning (at least to the extent that I would be confused by an
application that did the reverse, because I can't read Hebrew).

If you allow at least (1), then application names need to be marked as
translatable and then GNOME needs a general policy for whether
translators should follow (1) or (2).  It seems if you allow (1), you
already have the problems of mapping a transliterated name back to its
original name (this is especially hard when your tranliterated language
has much more limited phonetics than your source language, such as
Japanese when compared to English) that have been discussed elsewhere
(for example, what component do I report bugs on?).  That seems like a
solvable technical problem.

With that said, my personal opinion is that the "brand name" argument
made elsewhere is a good one-- something like "Спознаја" should stay
"Спознаја" or "Spoznaja" because than name is only useful as a
potentially meaningless mark used to uniquely identify the program.
For example, "sodipodi" means nothing to me, but I still identify and
use the program.  And though "epiphany" does mean something to me, it
doesn't help me identify it as a web browser.

The point with GNOME menus is for the generic application task ("web
browser") to be used and translated; we only need "brand names" to
distinguish between applications that fulfill the same task, and in
that case an arbitrary name does just as well as any other jumble of
letters, because I can't know what makes the applications different
without trying each of them out anyway.  (Going back to (1), though--
it's much easier for me to remember/distinguish "sodipodi" from
"kontour" than it would be for me to distinguish two Cyrillic names.)

So: (in my opinion,) marking application names as translatable makes
sense, but only so they can be transliterated.

Evan Martin
martine danga com

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