A community of technology community managers, leaders, and builders.

4: English is hard

A discussion of i18n, l10n, translation and related community issues (including culture!).

Pad is at:

Is your community an international community?
What do you do to support diverse language/cultural backgrounds?
Any tips or tricks?
Any fails/lessons?
Do you do translation or localisation? How?

People with accents fear they come accross as unintelligent

sites traditonally  very segmented by region

date formasts

right to left languages, other similar technical challenges

UK vs. US english

common definitions of English

assumption: “most” people speak English  - untrue?

different levels of English knowledge

aim: middle school / 8th grade level

but don’t use the phrase “dumb it down” - it’s “making it more accessible”

watch for idioms and expressions eg “like a stunned mullet!”

have native speakers proofread English content AND have non-native speakers proofread content

people use machine translations - assume this, and use short, clean sentences

there are even style guides to prepare for machine translation use!

keep it short! reading is a task for non-native speakers

400 words is already too much

a sentence should be less than 25 words

watch out for unintentional offending people - eg direct questions

Communicaitons around the world: http://www.businessinsider.co.id/communication-charts-around-the-world-2014-3

emerging communities are eager to help, but don’t know how

job titles - matter in US, korea … not so much in “Europe”

watch out for literacy levels - words are no good if people can’t read :slight_smile:

think about sign language

animated gifs are good and low bandwidth

a lot of internet access in african nations is using mobile phones. make your websites fit!

don’t always ask only for translation - people can provide other things too!

  • amazing notes, thank you! :slight_smile:

make a forum post and they can just do a manual translation

mozilla used machine translations to English work “ok”, if the source is done well

joomla has 60 languages, they use language files, transifex is the platform.

it’s not just software - also the announcements, monthly magazine

using translation to build community. eg the Spanish community group leading the push into Chile, the French Canadians led the French

firefoxOS - 80% of feedback was non-English - how do you support that?

how do you deal with a twitter stream that has a dozen different languages?

translating from foreign back into English is a good way to get content

translators can start very young!

it’s a worthy investment!

reward translators?

adobe community: public recognition - badges/stars/points

mozilla - explicitly decided not to pay for rewards - found that the quality deteriorated once people expected to be paid

mozilla - since it doesn’t sell anything, easier to find people to work for free

mozilla - strong motivation to be able to use the internet in their native language

mozilla - include them in the summit

openstack - ticket to the summit

New project: https://wiki.mozilla.org/Intellego

In the Meteor community, the authors of the definitive book (discovermeteor.com) have an interesting process in place for crowd-sourcing translations of their book, and they’ve written some very useful blog posts that can help you get scalable, crowd-sourced translations going for your own project.

Currently, there are 14 translation projects going, all with little to no direct involvement needed from the book authors. The authors get their book translated for free, and the translators make a great learning resource available for free to their language community (unlike the English edition of the book, which costs $39 for the smallest edition, the foreign-language versions are free).

Blog post about the translation project:

Detailed technical post on how their process works:

I missed this session but I wish I’d attended it. I interact with an international community using online forums. I am also a technical writer. My content is often translated. However, my untranslated content is read by an international audience. When I write, I use the following guidelines to make the content most understandable:

  • Use short sentences.
  • Use a simple sentence structure.
  • Use words that have the least amount of ambiguity.
  • Do not use humour.
  • Do not use jargon.

Essentially, this is a writing style that I learned for enabling content to be machine-translated. I expect that content written in this style is also more easily understood by those who do not speak English as their first language.


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