Translation Technology

Michael Stone michael at laptop.org
Fri Jun 27 17:46:27 EDT 2008


Yesterday, Sayamindu, Jim, Chris, Eben, Dennis, and I met to discuss
what technology we could provide to improve the experience of producing
and consuming translations and other localization data on the XO.

We sought to address three questions:

 1) How can we make "some" (then "every") string translatable. 

 2) How do we distribute translations?

 3) How can we separate translations from builds so that new translation
    improvements can be incorporated long after an operating system is
    released?

Our conclusions were that we could satisfactorily address these
questions by providing:

 * a disconnected on-XO translation interface.

     - Could be implemented as an activity named Translate. That
       activity might:
       
         + spider the build for translatable strings in activities and
           Sugar.

         + suggest appropriate terminology as possible.

 * for medium-privilege modification of translations.

 * for horizontal distribution of translations via some low-latency
   network.

 * for vertical distribution of translations via some delay-tolerant
   network.

 * a 'big undo' button similar to the olpc-update 'undo' mechanism which
   permits experimentation with translations.

 * for customization of translations via our existing USB customization
   technology and in the follow-on image-builder technology.

     - we discussed two implementation ideas:

         + to teach the customization infrastructure about translations

         + to teach the customization infrastructure to install RPMs

       but no consensus was reached.

We believe that supplying this technology and infrastructure would:

  * go a long way toward our long-term dream of permitting every child
    using our software to learn in his or her native language(s).

  * greatly improve the ability of bilingual individuals using our
    technology to autonomously improve the quality and coverage of our
    translations regardless of their access to internet connectivity.

Michael


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