Translation Sprint 2017


The last couple of days there was a Fedora Translation Sprint that I took as an opportunity to find out how translations in Fedora work nowadays. The actual translation happens at Fedora’s Zanata instance, a web based application for translation collaborations. Even though it accepts Fedora’s FAS single sign-on system, it is not possible to directly propose translations. Unfortunately, several manual steps are required. Luckily I noticed this early enough in the sprint and Roman, the German translation team coordinator, pressed the necessary buttons in time for me to join during the sprint.

After I learned Latin, English, French, Spanish and some Dutch at school nowadays I find some joy in analyzing language. This is quite useful for translating documentation since the vocabulary used for software like RPM and DNF is quite challenging.One example is describing aspects of an RPM file. RPMs are defined with SPEC files that contain relations to other packages via tags such as Requires, Provides and Obsoletes. The first tag specifies capabilities that the RPM file requires or depends on. The capabilities are therefore dependencies of the resulting RPM file. The other tags define capabilities that the RPM provides or replaces. But is there a single word/name for these capabilities such as dependency for the capabilities in the Requires tag? Do you know it? And what about the Obsoletes tag? Not knowing the English word makes it even harder to translate related messages. Another related example are verbs for these tags. In English it is easily possible to use obsolete as  a verb. However in German I believe I can only think of describing this fact but I do not know a verb with the same meaning. If you have ideas, I would be interested to hear them.

The translation sprint also made me aware of some interesting resources regarding translations. Some of them also seem to be useful for just writing German texts which is a big part of my day job. For example I found out about the FUEL project that brings consistency and standardization to software translation. They publish style guides for different languages and the German one was quite an interesting read. However, I am not sure if I agree with everything that is written there. For example it suggest to better use passive form. It might be a good idea for software translations but I believe the active form is better to read, at least in complete texts/reports.I also found at least one bug that I need to report. Nevertheless it helps to easier decide how to translate certain messages. I even learned about some keyboard shortcuts that are useful to create the proper quotation signs such as AltGr+y and AltGr+x. Another interesting resource is the Fedora dictionary with commonly used words.

The only thing I am currently missing is an explanation into the actual Zanata workflow. It seems I can now easily add translations but I do not see an easy way to get to the actual source code for a message. Links to github in the case of DNF would be nice. I wrote a little user script for Chromium to add these but it needs some more polishing to add the links after new content was loaded via AJAX. Also I did not manage to figure out how to save the current translations. However Zanata seems to save regularly automatically.

All in all participating in the sprint brought some new perspectives to me. Thank you to all the people organizing this and providing the documentation and infrastructure.

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