usability and i18n
- From: Reinout van Schouwen <reinout cs vu nl>
- To: Pat Costello <Patrick Costello Sun COM>
- Cc: usability gnome org, <gnome-i18n gnome org>
- Subject: usability and i18n
- Date: Wed, 31 Jul 2002 12:21:44 +0200 (CEST)
> It is hardly credible that a competent linguist, as indeed a translator must be,
> would mistake a single word label on a UI tab as a verb. In any case, as I said
> before, that's what the translation glossary is for.
In an ideal world, free software translators would all be competent
linguists, with degrees and lots of experience. But the fact is that they
more often than not are volunteers with a CS background. Despite their
good intentions they don't always get it right. Without any difficulty I
can point at numerous examples in Dutch GNOME translations where the
noun/verb mistake is made (and that's just one of the many problems).
Speakers of some languages are lucky that their language is big enough so
that companies (Sun) want to make professional-level translations for
those languages. Dutch is not such a language so the work is done by a
loose bunch of volunteers in their free time. They do the translations to
the best of their abilities but can't be expected to always know how other
translators translated specific words in specific contexts, or to look
everything up in a (sometimes not even existing) glossary. Programs like
gTranslator offer a Translation Memory feature which may help, but just as
often offers a wrong suggestion. All this, unfortunately, leads to
inconsistent and incomplete translations and thus reduced usability.
Since the English language is full of ambiguities it would be unreasonable
to expect UI designers not to use ambiguous words in the interface, that
would even be impossible in practice. But ambiguity is a real problem in
GNOME-i18n that should be taken into account, and not be dismissed with a
remark like "they should just use the glossary".
End of rant, I hope something constructive will come out of it...
Reinout van Schouwen Artificial Intelligence student
email: email@example.com mobile phone: +31-6-44360778
GPG public key http://www.cs.vu.nl/~reinout/reinout.asc
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