[Localization] code comments?

Yama Ploskonka yama at netoso.com
Fri Apr 4 21:14:12 EDT 2008

I second this. By mistake I had sent a similar message to someone in the 
list, but not to the list, a few week back.  the thread was
Re: [Localization] Problem: 2 translations for 1 string

I am no expert in OLPC msgid or .po files and am still trying to figure 
poodle out in the cascading language problem (English -> Spanish -> 
Aymara) where any such problems could very easily become silly, 
especially if it happens in the hinge language.

One concept I have been toying with is that msgid be referred to with an 
univocal referent, like a database pointer, not with an English phrase.
The pointers would point to the English phrase in a similar structure 
that they would point to any language phrase in any language.
ex.gr., BS07.en would be 'copy' and BS07.de would be 'Kopieren' and 
BS07.es 'copiar'.  There would be another instance of 'copy' that would 
be BS68.en, with a BS68.de translation as 'kopiere dich', and as many 
instances as actual phrases happen in each context in the software, even 
if apparently they are the same in English.  Reference pointer would be 
a number, or a construct that indicates package, class name, etc, in the 
software, and as add-on extension during execution (?) the language 
code.  Thus very little data could hold enormous amount of different 
possible languages.

That would not solve all problems, since English IS the default 
development language, yet English is somewhat poor in declensions and 
all those funny endings that bring so much joy to many other languages 
(Aymara is ripe with that) thus at the development stage it might not be 
noticed that a given term has to be contextualized.  Also, still the 
translator needs to know what sort of context the term is used in, which 
is not necessarily evident.

I do not know if this is even feasible at this stage of the game.  While 
it would make all sort of localization issues much easier, it would 
require a deep-down digging into the code.

In the long term it would be more than worth it, since maintenance and 
further translations would bypass this kind of issues.


Kent Loobey wrote:
> On Friday 04 April 2008 2:09:57 am you wrote:
>> On Sat, Mar 29, 2008 at 3:17 AM, Kent Loobey <kent at uoregon.edu> wrote:
>>> I was thinking about code documentation this morning.  If the code is
>>> supposed to be readable all over the world then how does the comments
>>> within the code get translated?
>>    I thought same thing.  Source text is just text, I don't think we
>> want to embed comments for each language in same place (quite
>> difficult to read!)....   Traditional code editing tools don't fit
>> well here.  Any clue?
> I considered putting a number with each comment and then in a separate file 
> putting a description for each number.  However I think it would be better if 
> the translated descriptions are inserted directly into the code where they 
> apply.
> A localization pre-processor might be run to insert translated text into the 
> activity/program.  I haven't done this myself but I know there are commenting 
> techniques that allow text to be pulled from programs to create a form of 
> rudimentary documentation.  Maybe we could do something along those lines and 
> then reverse the process and insert the translated text back into the 
> program.  Maybe only """ commented text """ text would be translated.
> Helping kids learn how to program is no different to me then facilitating 
> their learning anything else.
>>    Besides comments in code, we understand code by name of class,
>> data, method.  Good code have good names showing meaning clearly and
>> that doesn't need much comment.
> I have been programming for a long long ... long long time.  I have not 
> however programmed in Python before.  Python code by itself is not self 
> explanatory.  So I don't believe that someone who has never programmed before 
> could look at a Python program even with excellent class names and def names 
> could figure out how it works.
> I agree that the constructs of a program are really just tags and don't make 
> much difference what language they are in, i.e., a loop by any other name 
> still just loops.  Knowing why the loop is there is important to 
> understanding what the program is doing and that takes language.
>>    I think those are usually named in English if the code is indented
>> to be used globally.  So English skill might be needed anyway to
>> understand the code very well ...
>> /Korakurider
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