A Difference Goes Multilingual

2/19/2006 04:41:00 pm

I received an email this weekend from Regina Nabais asking if I would be interested in participating in the "Blog Translation Carnival." The students in my school collectively speak over 50 different languages so I'm very interested in increasing accessability to the students work in their parents native tongues. Here is an excerpt from the email:

I made a suggestion for a session on bilingual blogging at BlogHer in July, which, within a week has sparked off a blog translation carnival from Liz Henry and aspirations for getting Google sponsorship for a one day workshop somewhere round San Jose, California with an IRC going in several languages!

Anyway the blog carnival sounds interesting and this is how to join in, if you want to translate:

1. On the day of the Carnival (28th Fev, feriado por acaso) you translate one post by another blogger, and post it on your own blog with a link to the original.

2. Email Liz Henry with the info. who will compile one big post on the day of the Carnival with links to all the participants.

3. You can translate any blog entry that was posted in the month of February 2006. It can be your own blog entry, if you like.

The info. Liz needs is:
your name
name of your blog
your blog URL
post title in target language

name of blog you're translating
name of person you're translating
that URL
the post title in the source language

Liz also points out:
"You should get permission from the person you're translating to post your translation of their work. I would also suggest that you might introduce your translation for the target-language audience, and provide some context if you can."

Well, this sparked a memory of something I read over at Leigh Blackall's blog about translating all his blog posts into several different languages with the click of a single button. More than that, the translated pages are are indexable and google searchable so people can find your stuff in their native languages. When you consider that over 65% of web users speak a language other than English you begin to appreciate the power of this functionality.

I hunted through Leigh's blog all the way back to June of 2005 to find the post where he explains how he finally made it work. You can do this yourself too. It's as easy as "copy and paste." You do have to fiddle around with the placement of the code in your template by "previewing" your edits until you have it placed right where you want it. The original graphics for the various languages were larger than I wanted; I changed them to height="12" and width="18".

I've played around with the translations as well and some of them translate the entire post, including comments, others leave some bits untranslated. If you click on the white arrow it will continue the translation.

Since I don't speak many of the languages A Difference is now available in I was wondering if any speakers of these languages might drop me a note to let me know how good the translations are. I'm particularly interested in the quality of the Portugese, Korean, Chinese, Italian and Spanish translations. Click on the icons below this post to translate it into:

French, German, Italian, Portugese, Spanish, Japanese, Korean or Chinese (Simplified).

If these translation tools work well then I'll add this functionality to all my classroom blogs and hopefully give more parents greater insight into what their children are learning. Maybe it will even encourage them to play more of an active role on the blogs. ;-)

UPDATE
The community I work in has a large Filipino population. Thanks to a little encouragement from Chris Harbeck I figured out how to add an English to Tagalog translation. All the little arrows that pop up offer alternative translations for each word. The last flag on the right is from the Phillipines. Thanks for the push Chris!

UPDATE 2 (Feb. 25, 2006)
I've received some feedback regarding the quality of these translation tools. The Chinese is surprisingly good. The French and Portuguese have some awkward grammar but can be understood. The Tagalog (te-gah-log) is unintelligible so I've removed it. Apparently the words are Tagalog, but the grammar and word choice conspire to make the translation nonsensical. I've replaced the Tagalog tool with Dutch as I've noticed I've been getting hits from the Netherlands. Please email me or leave me a comment here and let me know how good the Dutch and other tools are. Thanks.

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