Fog Creek Software
Discussion Board

Translations? WTF?!

I know this was already discussed previously, but I couldn't find a (serious) response from Joel.

So: "what's up with the translations?"
If it's for some kind of unicode-and-parallel-versions-dogfood-tests it would make sense, but 30(?) languages?!

Saturday, October 19, 2002

Joel asked for volunteers who knew other languages to translate.

He posted what he got.  I imagine if he gets 60 languages, you'll see 60 languages on that list.

Seriously, can we find actual important things to worry about?


Saturday, October 19, 2002

I just thought there was something profound I was missing...seeing that it takes up almost half the space on his navbar and he mentions it quite often(ish).

Saturday, October 19, 2002

I guess the profound thing you're missing is that for most people in the world, English is not their native language... Or is this a troll. Or did you have something more important to do with that screen real estate.

Joel Spolsky
Saturday, October 19, 2002

A cutting but rather accurate reply.

Still he does have a point about the different language version links taking up space. I would consider moving the other links like the forum links, to the top at the very least.

Salut i força al canut!

Stephen Jones
Saturday, October 19, 2002

I'd also like to see the "Discuss" links moved above the language links. As it is now, I have to scroll and scan to find the things. As Steve Krug would say, that's too much thinking.

Troy King
Saturday, October 19, 2002

Wow! How dare Joel waste a precious inch of your screen, or cost you a second of your day!

If Joel wants to do a version of JoelOnSoftware in Loglan, and finds someone to do the actual work, then he is more than welcome to. Especially if it leads to sales, and costs him nothing.

There are a lot of programmers out there who do not read English. If Joel wants to provide content for them, who are you to complain? If this then leads to sales from countries that no one has even heard of, in good old American greenbacks, is Joel going to complain?

I think that one of the major problems with technical people is that they do not have a clue how a business is run, or what it takes to run a successful business (or even an unsuccessful one). Oh, they think they do, but when you get down to it, their ideas basically consist of big neon starred arrows pointing at themselves, and unlimited budgets.

Saturday, October 19, 2002

And while we're on the subject of links, I'd also recommend deciding on whether you want the citydesk-related URLs to be written in all-lowercase, or as "CityDesk" -- and then make then consistent throughout all of Joel's pages.  Otherwise, the link colors get messed-up depending on which CityDesk/citydesk URL you click on.

Alex Chernavsky
Saturday, October 19, 2002

Look, all I wanted to know is why _Joel_ thinks it is worth that much space on his site. It obviously has nothing to do with _my_ screen or time.

I come here to learn stuff from Joel. I value his opinion. So if he thinks something is that important, I would really like to know why.

Why would it matter to Joel that English is not everyone's main language? What's he trying to accomplish? A bigger audience? Wouldn't it be easier to get more _English_ speaking readers? That market is hardly "saturated".

These seems like valid questions to me. No hostility intended.

(btw I don't really appreciate the tone of all the responses I received. I am not a troll. And English is not my native language.)

Sunday, October 20, 2002

I think you've likely been misunderstood because you aren't fitting the prevailing sociolinguistic pattern (tricky to do if English is not your first language).

Look at the other thread titles. Even the critical ones are generally in mature and sober language. Your "WTF" comes over like a lip-fart at a memorial service. This tends to bring readers in with a predisposition to be hostile.

Learning about the cultural impact of words and phrases is one of the reasons why I love the translations on this site. As an English-speaker who likes to study foreign languages, it's invaluable for me to see how native speakers combine the humour, slight irreverence, and serious technical discussion combination which characterises Joel's articles. If I just had the foreign language article to go on, I would never be quite sure that I was judging the tone correctly.

Having said all of which, I do think that the long list of languages, when it first appeared, struck me as making the page less tidy than it was before. But that is Joel's call ...

Attending the wake
Sunday, October 20, 2002

Yeah, you're right: The title is a bit strong. I wrote it that way to catch the eye. Sorry. (Might also have been due to visiting penny-arcade just before posting :-)

OK, I get the feeling that this thread is starting to get touchy. So can Joel just tell me why he would want non-English speakers to be able to read his site.

Sunday, October 20, 2002

> So can Joel just tell me why he would want non-English speakers to be able to read his site.

I can't believe anybody could ask that question without knowing the answer. It's so blindingly obvious. Surely the question should be "why would Joel not want non-English speakers to be able to read his site?". And the answer would be that there isn't any reason.

John C
Sunday, October 20, 2002

What point springs to mind. Why are the names listed for the translations not themselves translated?

Mr Jack
Monday, October 21, 2002

For the more interesting character sets, your browser will probably annoy you to install a language pack.  Maybe this could be finessed by an image.  But might as well present the English spellings, because you don't want something in Klingon and people wondering what the hell it's for.

Monday, October 21, 2002

janto wrote:
> So can Joel just tell me why he would want non-English
>speakers to be able to read his site.

Enlglish is not my native language. However, most people that work in computer- and programming related jobs knows english well enough to both understand Joels essays and make themselves understood talking on this forum. However, Joels essays may be of intrest to more "general"-type managers who is not as fluent in English as developers are.

So if I get some of Joels points through to my non-english speaking manager, that is all good.

Monday, October 21, 2002

"Translations" could be one link to a page that lists the available translations.

As it is now, I have to scroll past that big list of languages to find the forum links.

Dr. Awesome
Monday, October 21, 2002

Joel, I just wanted to say thanks for the translations. They're a great idea, and I'm
glad you're getting plenty of volunteers.
I'd volunteer myself, except I don't speak any other languages well enough

David Clayworth
Monday, October 21, 2002

Personally I think the translations are silly.

Just my opinion, I'm not eating my liver out over it.

Tuesday, October 22, 2002

Just to clarify - I think the idea is good, but it's the execution that is poor.

Tuesday, October 22, 2002

"Poor"? As in, the translations are incorrect? In what language? Maybe you need to volunteer to do a bit of copy editing. Or did you mean "poor" in some other sense?

That said, I've found a few mis-translations in some of the Hungarian articles I've read. One of them annoyed me enough that I re-wrote it and sent it on to Joel. (He hasn't posted it, but it's only been a few days.) But even a slightly-bad translation is better than none at all, especially in Hungarian--it being such a widespread language, you know. ;)

Tuesday, October 22, 2002

Martha, maybe look up poor in the English dictionary, it is an ambiguous word, but you should get my drift.

Here's a clue - I didn't mean poor as in "not wealthy".


Tuesday, October 22, 2002

Yes, the translation links are bad UI design.

It really requires a sub menu or something, but Joel can't do this because CityDesk isn't good enough. Plus, pride is now a factor. Ultimately, it's his web site, and all the other badly designed weblogs are testimony to the power of the owner :-)

Simple Truth
Wednesday, October 23, 2002

I think the translation game is just intended to be very PC.

Just me (Sir to you)
Thursday, October 24, 2002


poor  Pronunciation Key  (pr)
adj. poor·er, poor·est
Having little or no wealth and few or no possessions.
Lacking in a specified resource or quality: an area poor in timber and coal; a diet poor in calcium.
Not adequate in quality; inferior: a poor performance.

Lacking in value; insufficient: poor wages.
Lacking in quantity: poor attendance.
Lacking fertility: poor soil.
Undernourished; lean.
Humble: a poor spirit.
Eliciting or deserving pity; pitiable: couldn't rescue the poor fellow.

As a native English speaker (Canadian), I must confess (after having looked up the definition of "poor" as recommended) that I'm not entirely sure what you were trying to say, Alberto.

You kindly ruled out poor as in lacking wealth, but that does leave a number of interpretations.

So, are the translations poor quality? Or did you mean that there are too few translations?  Or did you mean that the presence of the translations causes you to feel pity? I won't speculate as to the reason, but perhaps, in your opinion, the translations show a lack of fertility on Joel's part? A humble spirit?  Or do they cause you to worry about an undernourished Joel? 


Next time, rather than referring Martha to a dictionary - a simple yes or no in answer to her question would have been more helpful... 

Not Martha, eh
Thursday, October 24, 2002

Sorry, I'm a contractor, if I'm going to be helpful I have to charge you.

Just joking.

Yes I was being a bit of a smarty pants, wasn't I?

I meant poor as in the translations take up too much space, and yes I do want that space.

They also visually distract from the main thrust of the site.

Also they will not have longevity because the people who do them will get sick of it soon. Where it says "more coming soon", it should really say "This is a diminishing list" because it will get shorter and shorter for sure. In fact, let that be the judge of the value of them, will they still be there in a year? Lets see.

If they are worthwhile the list should grow and continue.

Meanwhile we'll all have to live with it.

Thursday, October 24, 2002

The translations are not only useful (well, not to me, but to some), but also a tasty example of eating your own dogfood.

But I think the point about their placement, as a UI critique, is worth consideration.  I think they would be better off at the bottom of the left side nav bar, or at the bottom of the page with the boilerplate asking for translators / copy editors.

Although, putting them at the bottom is a bit *too* inconvenient.  And yet, there is a logical relationship between the links and the boilerplate.  Perhaps the boilerplate should go in the left nav bar, under the links?

Also, I may be dense, but often when I get to the bottom of an article I think for an instant that there's more to it, only to realize that it's just the bottom-of-page boilerplate.  Perhaps a horizontal rule between the article and it, or maybe put it in a different font or point size?

David Conrad
Tuesday, October 29, 2002

I wanted to translate a few pages for a site that I am maintaining.

Could any one help me find out how it is done ?

I wanted to Translate from English to Malayalam (a south Indian language). I am not asking any one out there to translate for me, I want some technical help.

Wednesday, June 04, 2003

I would appreciate if there is Polish translation version

Thursday, August 19, 2004

*  Recent Topics

*  Fog Creek Home