[GRASS-dev] Re: lib/gis/*.c: Extra calls to sprintf () just before G_warning ()

Yann Chemin yann.chemin at gmail.com
Wed Mar 25 16:47:59 EDT 2009

Hello Ivan,

> msgid "usage: %s location mapset element file."
> msgstr "использование: %s область набор элемент файл."
>        Unfortunately, ``область'' is hardly a good translation for
>        ``location'', as ``region'' readily translates into ``область'',
>        too:

hmmm... in Central Asia, область has an administrative level meaning,
and I believe they also use "rayon" (sorry no kyrillic keyboard here)
for another administrative level.
This would add confusion maybe.

> >From Mueller English-Russian Dictionary [mueller7]:
> region
>   [↗ri:dʒɜn] _n.
>   1) страна; край; область; округа; _перен. сфера, область;
> [...]
>        To distinguish between the two the translators have chosen to
>        translate ``region'' as ``регион'' (also derived from Latin),
>        which doesn't seem to make much difference, in my opinion.

... Well, maybe this is what is needed. see below.

>        In the papers I co-author, I use a calque, translating
>        ``location'' as ``локация'' (which, to be honest, doesn't mean
>        anything in Russian), while translating ``region'' as
>        ``область''.

hmmm... it sounds tough to get something clear. But maybe we should
think again about what region and location mean really, and not
translate from their names used in GRASS but translate from whatever
they really mean.

>        ... And it's not hard to guess that this discrepancy easily
>        confuses my students even more than the English UI does.

Yeah I could be confused too... In few countries with non-latin based
alphabets (Central Asia, South Asia, South East Asia), all people I
met/worked with in GIS-related work use English GUIs and English in
communication for GIS. A Thai lecturer recently told me that QGIS in
thai is funny at best and confusing to students at worst. He just uses
all software in English and explains the English technical terms
directly upon using the software. I know this is not a GRASS GIS
example, but I find it useful here.

Maybe we hit a more philosophical question here about why we want to
translate in the first place... On one hand, do we translate terms
that are "keywords" associated with functionalities specific of GIS,
this could need no translation, or just as Ivan did with region <=>
регион is to facilitate the daily use of non latin alphabet readers. I
have met many students non latin reader from birth but recently
acquired, and they have more trouble with reading than with using
english words. Then, just learning the region keyword would be
sufficient, while it maybe written in phonetic with a different
script, their own native language script. On the other hand, do we
translate concepts/functionalities that already are well-explained and
established in the language vocabulary? If so, direct translation
should not a problem.

A second question would be to generate a standard GIS [english] <=>
GIS [insert here your language of interest] lexicon. I believe that
maybe difficult though, but maybe necessary to get through this
hurdle. Of course, a straight question coming from this would be: is
there a national GIS vocabulary accepted already? If yes, that is a
good starting point.

sorry, that is a bit long,

Yann Chemin
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