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RE: Changing the language of gnus menu entries

From: Drew Adams
Subject: RE: Changing the language of gnus menu entries
Date: Wed, 25 Sep 2013 16:09:32 -0700 (PDT)

[Quoted replies are from 3 people - replying to all.]

On the quality of the Google translation to German:

> It chooses to translate the word "key" to "key", meaning that thing which
> locks a door or a lock.
> > Maybe such automatic translation would be a start?
> No. Except for those of us Germans who can't read. They won't see the
> difference between the Google gibberish and our written mother tongue.

Or maybe those of you Germans whose English is not so great.  There might
still be a few such folk.  Not here no doubt, but somewhere.

> Wouldn't you like to translate the German tutorial into English with
> Google?  Maybe this helps to understand.

What makes you think I do not understand that Google does not translate
very well to your written mother tongue?

But that is an excellent suggestion!  Done.  And it certainly does help
us understand.

Result: I CAN READ IT.  I have no real problem understanding it.  And I
CANNOT understand one word of the German tutorial (well, maybe one or two
isolated words).  The difference between night & day, for me.

Thank you very much for supporting my hypothesis with another good experiment!

Here's the beginning of the translated text, for all to judge both it's
general comprehensibility and its weaknesses - parts that are unclear or

  Emacs commands generally involve the CONTROL key ( sometimes
  labeled as CTRL , CTRL or CTL ) as well as the META key ( also
  EDIT or ALT called ) . The following abbreviations are used:

   C <character> means that the CONTROL button must be pressed
                while the character <character> you type . Example:
                  Cf Hold down the CONTROL key and press
                       Then the f key .
   M <character> means that the META key must be pressed
                while the character <character> you type . instead
                You can also press the ESC key and then <character>
                press ( after the other , not both ) . Example:
                  Mf Hold down the META key and enter
                       The letter ( small) f a .

  ">>" In the left margin is an indication to try a command :

  Cv >> Press to scroll forward to the next screen .
          From now on you should always do when you finish a page
          have read.

  Please note that when you scroll the bottom two lines of the
  previous screen page as the top two lines of the new page
  appear to have some continuity while reading allow .

  Important: You can quit Emacs with the command sequence Cx Cc .

  Furthermore, the ESC key is denoted by <ESC> .

  [If the German umlauts correctly on the screen appear , please read
   the section " MULE " shortly before the end of this Introduction . ]

  First, you must know how to be in a document can move. As you scroll
  one screen forward , know You have ( C v) . With Mv scroll back one
  screen (hold down the META key and enter v , or press First <ESC>
  and then v) .

Yes, Google is not so great with Info's key-sequence notation.  And yes,
some of the wording is gobbledygook.  But for the most part, I can
UNDERSTAND it.  Can't you?  It is something I can USE - it is USEFUL.

My guess is that you are perhaps too good at English to appreciate the
plight of someone who hardly understands it.  My trying to learn Emacs
from the German tutorial is the use case I am speaking to: someone who
has real trouble with the source language.

For such a user, I think Google translation can clearly make a HUGE
difference.  And thank you once again for demonstrating this to us so
> > Maybe such automatic translation would be a start?
> It's understandable, but you nonetheless would have to rewrite 95%
> of the text to fulfill the simplest Grammar rules etc.

"It is understandable."  Thank you - QED.  The #1 goal is comprehension.
It is not fulfilling German rules. ;-)

The latter is only a nice-to-have, when you do not understand the doc
language and you are trying to learn Emacs.  We do NOT "have to rewrite
95% of the text" for it to be a real help to some people.

> Well, the translation sucks. :-) Word order is so messed up that it's
> often difficult to make heads or tails of a sentence...

Often, or sometimes?  Difficult, perhaps, but not always impossible,
unlike the case for someone who does not understand the source language.

> Such a translation would probably scare off more people than having no
> translation at all.

I doubt it.  That's quite an exaggeration.

Even someone such as yourself, whose English is excellent, should not be
"scared off" by the translated text shown above.  You might laugh a bit,
and you might scratch your head a bit here and there.

But the person who has real trouble with English won't be laughing, whether
with or without such help.  And without it, s?he might become completely

> > IOW, does such automatic translation get us something at least a little
> > bit useful or not?
> >
> > I don't understand German, so I cannot tell, here.  I would say that the
> > translation to French is usable, however.  It is not great, but it can be
> > helpful, IMHO.
> That's not entirely surprising, because French word order is much closer
> to English (both are subject-verb-object), while German word order is
> quite different and more complex (i.e., more difficult to get right
> without human intervention).

Sorry, I'm not convinced of that last part.  I used to be in charge of a
group of professional translators who translated from French into English
and German, among other languages.  I know they (including the Germans)
would not agree with you that it is more difficult to translate into
German because of its different word order (or for any other reason).

No, their experience does not necessarily apply to automatic translation.
But I'm guessing it does.  And Google translation is apparently NOT just
automatic translation.  It is apparently based on zillions of human
translations by professional translators such as my former colleagues.
(So much so that translators are complaining that Google is ripping off
their intellectual property.)

Google translation is not the same thing as having a professional translator
concentrate on Emacs docs, of course, but it's not the same thing as
automatic translation either.

Laughable, sometimes incomprehensible, but also useful, I think.  Again,
compared to no translation at all.

> > Such automatic output could perhaps also be used as a starting point,
> > to be improved by human translation.
> Actually, I'm not sure what would be more work: correcting a Google
> translation or starting from scratch. I'm pretty sure, though, that the
> latter is more satisfying and less frustrating.

Really glad I picked German for that test, BTW. ;-)

I wonder how you might feel if the original Info doc were ONLY in Chinese
or Japanese or Korean or Thai, and you had a choice between ONLY that or
also a translation to German (or English or...)?  Think about it.  Think

I agreed that even for French (and now for English too; thank you) the
result can sometimes be laughable.

You point out that "key" is translated to the wrong kind of key.  Big deal.
I pointed out that, for French, "sole" (for "sole exception") was translated
to the sole of a shoe.  Good jokes.  But hardly roadblocks.

I think the result is generally USABLE, especially if the English original
is placed side by side.  I'm not comparing Google translation to careful
human translation.  I'm comparing it to NO translation, and I'm thinking
about someone who has real difficulty with English.

In sum, it's about understanding content.  It's not so much about getting
the grammar right etc.  Obviously, for best understanding, the grammar etc.
need to be good.  But it should be just as clear to us all that it is
communicating the technical content that is most important, however that
might be done.

On using Google translation on the fly, recuperating the result in Emacs:

> > Maybe it would even be a good (optional) fallback: translation on the
> > fly of final output (e.g. *Help* buffer, *Info* buffer)?
> >
> > Maybe someone will write an Emacs command that sends the text in the
> > current *info* node to such a translation URL or web service,
> > recuperates the translated text, and builds an *info*-node
> > presentation of it...
> That would not be very GNUish, no?

Dunno - depends how narrowly you define GNUish.  (We're all at least a
little GNUish, no?)  My guess is that if someone implemented it, the code
might be (a) off-GNU, as in off-Broadway, i.e., not included in GNU Emacs,
even if GPL, and (b) appreciated by some users whose English is not so great.

For some people, GNUishness is next to godliness, and that's OK.  For me,
(b) is more important than true-blue-GNUness-thru-&-thru.  Help people use
GNU Emacs.  GNU will only benefit from that, even if Google somehow had a
hand in helping them learn.

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