[Python-Dev] Translated Python documentation

Steven D'Aprano steve at pearwood.info
Fri Feb 24 10:10:02 EST 2017

On Fri, Feb 24, 2017 at 06:01:59AM -0500, tritium-list at sdamon.com wrote:

> My gut splits the difference on this issue; I suggest an approach to 
> meet in the middle – a version of the docs written in simplified 
> English (Not quite Up Goer Five simplified, but simplified.)

As an English speaker, my gut tells me that it would be much harder to 
write *accurate* simplified English technical documentation than to 
translate it into another language.

You have all the difficulties of translation, plus you're working under 
a handicap of only using some (ill-defined?) subset of English.

Wikipedia offers some evidence supporting my view: 

- the main English Wikipedia has 5 million articles, written by nearly 
  140K active users;

- the Swedish Wikipedia is almost as big, 3M articles from only 3K 
  active users;

- but the Simple English Wikipedia has just 123K articles and 871
  active users. That's fewer articles than Esperanto!


Nevertheless, I certainly wouldn't object if people wanted to try 
writing Simple English translations of the docs. But I don't think they 
would be as useful as translations into non-English.

> For any language you want to support other than English, you need a 
> translator who is A: a python expert, B: fluent in English, and C: 
> fluent in the target language.

I disagree. You need a translator who is A: skilled at technical 
documentation, with B and C as above. They don't need to be a Python 
expert. We have plenty of Python experts that they can consult with and 
ask questions. But they need to know the right questions to ask:

"Python attributes, they're kind of like C members, right? I would 
translate 'member' into Klingon as 'gham', which means 'arm or leg', 
so I can use the same word for attribute."

> …And then you need another one to 
> check what was written.  These are practical problems.  There are 
> extant services to support this, they are expensive in either money or 
> time, and the docs produced usually lag behind English quite a bit.

Is this a good use for some PSF funding? Would companies be willing to 
invest money in translating Python documentation?

Just because we're Open Source, doesn't mean that everything we do has 
to be purely volunteer.


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