Translation work

by davidnielsen

The past few nights I’ve been trying to keep up with Lasse Bang Mikkelsen’ possibly drug induced mountain of incoming translation work.

I feel like I haven’t been doing enough on this front lately and it’s not for lack of time really – the entire danish team just seems to have gone a bit dormant.

One of the reasons I don’t do much when there’s not much activity on the mailinglist is that I don’t have access to CVS so I can’t merge translations myself. If none of the people with CVS accounts are handy, even nicely peer reviewed translations risk going out of date or linger without uploads.

Actually I like it that way, one of the reasons the danish translations are of such high quality is the amount of peer review that’s mandated by our process.

I’ll try to describe the work process a bit: is the placeholder for all the latest .po files for all languages – when a translation member starts work on a given .po file he sends out a message to the internal dansk list ( currently) to lock that program to avoid work duplication.

When the translator finishes the .po file, a diff file of the translation work is send to the list, following up on the thread started earlier.

Now the rest of the team at their own leisure review the translation and a concensus is met on difficult areas. Work is normally only uploaded following peer review. This is the single flaw in our model as during hard pressed times for the rest of the team, a translation might go unreviewed for quite some time.

The translation team also keeps a list of preferred translations, about once a month this list of words is debated during an often several hour long IRC meeting to update it to ensure that the list is always in tune with the current danish standards and otherwise makes sense. Great consideration has to be taken here as deviation from the danish standards can cause programs to be unsuitable for deployment in schools and governments. Strange translations will be the result from time to time, but we try to avoid them while keeping within the limits imposed on us, and if this happens there’s not much to do but wait till the official dictionary allows the use of certain words – e.g. untill recently email wasn’t a legal danish word so we had to contradict the average joe’ use of the word in place of another one.

This is all a bit cumbersome but the consistency and quality the work the team puts out is outstanding, and much thanks to the massive efforts of people like mwh and lbm, Danish has been in above 90% on the GNOME desktop platform for ages and new versions of GNOME have shipped with +99% complete translations the past few releases consistently.

So if you speak a language other than english, I strongly encourage you to start helping the translation efforts. Something that has proven succesful for our team is presentations and workshops on translations in LUGs, that’s how I got involved, and here’s proof, a little picture from the workshop Martin held a while back – I would be guy with frustration painted all over his face, the reason is that Martin forced me to use his Microsoft unnatural keyboard and he is also an EMACS user whereas I like vim, which wasn’t installed on the machine (the EMACS po-mode is awesome once you learn to use it though).