Lost in Translation


Posted by wendy | Posted in knit, work | Posted on 11-09-2007

I am working on a side project translating Ning into Traditional Chinese.

It’s not as impressive as it sounds. For one thing, bulk of the translation was done and converted from the Simplified Chinese version. My job for the older strings is to make sure they make sense for people who is used to Traditional Chinese. Well, and in the latest release a whole bunch of new strings were introduced, so now I have to make sure they are translated.

It’s not hard at all to translate the site. We made this awesome language editor. From this tool, you can search, find out what is translated, and what is not, etc. The changes happens as soon as you commit in the language editor. So you can check as you go. In addition, if you want to take your translation to another network, just download the translation and upload it to a different network. And if you mess up, we have back ups.


But… translation is still hard. I have to scour through the files to make sure the words are used make sense. That’s the tough part, because I don’t really know the technical terms in Chinese. I have no clue how to translate blog, html code, widgets, etc. I have to look them up, and different people use these terms differently. ACK!

What I found the hardest is translating sentences. You can have all the right words, but together they make no sense. Direct translation from English to Chinese just doesn’t work. You have to finesse some culture aspect into it.

What I end up discovering is that Yahoo/Flickr Taiwan is incredible in terms of translation. The translation looks like someone in Taiwan wrote it rather than some US person (i.e. some one like me) using a automated translation tool.

I always have a lot of respect for GOOD translators.

When I was at Borland testing i18n version of JBuilder, we had an automated translated tool. You can translate help file in to French and German. We used to translate into one of these language and then translate back to English. It’s great fun just to see how much it changes between each transformation.

Looking at the automated translation tool (i.e. this one from google : Google Translator), things have not changed much since then. There’s no substitute (yet) for having a human translator.

Enough about work. It’s been a while since I post about my knitting. Here’s one of my latest finished project.

What do you think?

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