Should translators change source strings?

[ I'm adding d-d-l to the Cc: list here, folks. If it doesn't make it through to that list, please forward a copy to it. ]

Clytie Siddall wrote:
On 08/08/2005, at 3:35 PM, Adam Weinberger wrote:
One of them says "password is to simple".

This is also a current error in gdm2. I was about to report is as a bug. Should I still do that?

If a string has a major grammar or spelling error like that, then it should definitely have a bug filed against it.


I seem to spend half my time in Bugzilla at Gnome. :(

It's not too bad when I update the files, but the first pass ... LOTS of errors. Is it possible to run an English spellchecker over the .po files?

Trust me: you don't want to do that. There are literally hundreds of strings with grammar or spelling errors, terrible word choices, made-up words, or simply lazy strings.

The simple truth is that developers spend their time concentrating on code, not on strings. (And with good reason!) GNOME simply will never be taken seriously until the quality of the strings improves.

Programs like Evolution should be a blessing to companies that want a respectable mailer. But I personally am embarrassed to think about suggesting that a self-respecting company should switch to something with strings like "Click here, you can find more events." or "You will not be able to either send or recieve mails now." (Apologies, Evolution, for picking on you here. Your strings are in no way the worst, but your app is one of the best.)

The problem with fixing these by filing bugreports is that it wastes an incredible amount of translator and developer time. Furthermore, they're ignored more often than not, or argued with. I can't recall how many "occured"-related reports I've filed; I once had someone argue that "can not" was a perfectly reasonable spelling of "cannot"; there are so many comma-spliced strings in CVS right now that it would take down bugzilla if I were to file bugreports against them all.

See, we have a team of brilliant developers, writing brilliant code, which is what they're good at. We have a team of dedicated and hard-working translators who focus on their language, but ignore the source strings. And why? Each source string is looked at by easily 50 pairs of translator eyes, and by only 1 developer's eyes (and his or her eyes are for the code, not the string).

We are under-utilizing our translators' abilities. For every developer that doesn't wish to spend his or her time making grammar and spelling changes, I propose the following:

Every module may have a file named po/README.TRANSLATORS. In this file, developers may put instructions such as "Only simple spelling and grammar fixes" or "Please make any change necessary" or "Do not make changes at all" or "You break it, you buy it". Absence of po/README.TRANSLATORS will mean that translators have implicit permission to edit the source strings themselves to resolve simple, obvious grammar and spelling errors. (I.e. more complex or non-obvious changes will still require a bugzilla bug to be filed.)

I think that GNOME would stand to benefit significantly from this. Having translators fixing grammar and spelling problems on their own, rather than just patching them over in their translation, could only benefit the project. Nothing takes down the appearance of maturity and elegance of a program like seeing a glaring "An error is occured" dialogue box jumping out at you.

Developers: what say you? Do you like this idea?

# Adam

Adam Weinberger
adamw magnesium net || adamw FreeBSD org
adamw vectors cx    ||   adamw gnome org

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