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Re: character sets as they relate to “Raw†string literals for elisp

From: Stefan Kangas
Subject: Re: character sets as they relate to “Raw†string literals for elisp
Date: Tue, 5 Oct 2021 18:25:07 -0400

Richard Stallman <rms@gnu.org> writes:

> It would be an enormous effort -- just consider translating the
> manuals.  And updating the translations for each Emacs version.  It
> would be a big burden.  We should urge volunteers to work on
> other areas of improvement

My native language is Swedish, and I do work professionally among other
things as a translator from English to Swedish.  I have also attempted
translating technical documentation, but usually give up because it's
just too hard.

Let me just say this, with regards to a fully multi-lingual Emacs.

In almost all free software projects I have seen, the Swedish
translation is shockingly poor.  It is so bad, in fact, that I often
think it would be better to just delete it outright.  This work is
usually done by volunteers that are trying their best, out of genuine
love and commitment, which obviously makes such a conversation somewhat

Let me also point out that translation is hard, especially so of
technical documentation with all the terms it contains.  If you are not
a professional translator, you are very likely to fail badly, unless you
are prepared to spend a very substantial amount of time.  Even then,
success is all but guaranteed: even "professional" translators can and
do fail horribly at times.

So given my experience, I seriously doubt that volunteer translations
will reach a sufficiently high quality.  At the very least, such an
effort should be organized and coordinated in a serious way on a
cross-project level.  Perhaps GNU as a whole is big enough to do it as a
project.  Maybe.  But Emacs?  I doubt it.

(All of the above comes with the caveat that my experience is obviously
strictly limited to Swedish.)

> What might be worth doing is to implement multilingual output
> messages.  Many GNU packages support that, and Emacs could too.  With
> GNU gettext, the program's developers don't need to get involved in
> the translation, so it would not be a burden on us.

Even multilingual messages would be a large effort, and in the case of
Emacs it is still not clear that it would be of much use.  You would
immediately run into the brick-wall of English documentation, English
symbols, etc. etc.

That said, it sounds infinitely more doable than translating all
documentation, especially if we limit the scope to just some major
languages like Mandarin, Arabic and Spanish.

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