Subject: Re: Translation to Norwegian.
To: None <firstname.lastname@example.org>
From: Martijn van Buul <email@example.com>
Date: 07/25/2006 08:18:01
It occurred to me that omes wrote in gmane.os.netbsd.documentation:
> It's about beeing able to chose to read docs in your native language,
> simply because some people are more comfortable with that.
Just my two cents, and why I usually prefer English/original documentation
over a translation:
1) Translations are risky, especially when done by somebody else, since it
depends on the translator to fully understand the subject. If the
translator isn't comfortable with it, the translation may end up being
misleading or confusing. The original document is often a more reliable
source of information. This is increasingly true if the document at hand
deals with intricate details or complex concepts.
2) Consistency, or the lack thereof. Localised documentation only makes sense
if you can guarantee that it offers the same information than the original,
and that it will get updated accordingly. This is often not the case. Take
Wikipedia, for example. Quite often, the various localised versions offer
completely different texts and different information, often mutually
exclusive. The Dutch article about binary prefixes claims that the IEC
introduced the new-fangled kibi-, mebi, gibi etc. prefixes in 1998. The
rest claims that it was in 1999. The Dutch, Norse, Portugese, Slovak and
Czech versions claim that there's no equivalence to Zetta (1E21) and
Yotta (1E24) because they're meaningless for practical use, all other
versions claim their existance (zebi and yobi, respectively). I know
that this says more about wikipedia than it really says about nationalised
documents, but it *is* indicative of the errors and differences you can
3) The necessity also depends on the target audience. A basic "how to configure
a NAT box" might be worthwhile to translate, if your target audience is
likely to be less comfortable with English. A deep and detailed discussion
about the inner workings of pf might be a different issue; most people
wouldn't be interested in it, and those who are are usually quite capable
of reading English. Furthermore, the two points I made above are more of
an issue here. However, this is probably a bit of a national issue;
from my own observation, I'd say that German and French people are more
likely to appreciate a translated document than a Dutch person.
I don't want to suggest that I'm opposed to all kinds of documentation being
translated - I'm not. It makes sense to translate installation guides, and
maybe the first few chapters of the NetBSD guide, but once things get
technical I'm not so sure if it's worth it.