I decided to make my website more welcoming, by translating it into each of the languages of my friends.
No way to translate all the content published here : a thousand articles, too much ! I just want to translate the main words of the interface, so that everyone quickly understands what this site is and can navigate in his usual language. In the same way that, when we travel abroad, we have the courtesy to learn the first input words in touch : ¡Hola, que tal ! お元気ですか بخير Wie heißt du ? ロミーです شكرا ¿Habla español ? nur ein bisschen…
I wonder why, on the Web that is so international, I have not thought to do this before !
I’m lucky to use the publishing system SPIP to make my website, which is very comfortable for multilingualism. Nothing to configure ! I only have to translate directly into the editorial area [*]. Go !
How I translate
By convenience or laziness, I use an automatic translator, with which it’s better to go through English to avoid too rude errors, and I trust more to dictionaries, such Linguee and Reverso, in all languages, to rectify its errors.
1. Translation of menus and other interface’s words
Translate interface’s words is the most delicate. These are often short words, apparently simple, but covering a semantic field to which there is not always strictly equivalent word in another language. But their role is critical, because they give orientation for users.
So I examine examples of uses of each word and I compare with other similar websites in other languages. The longest is the translation of the tag cloud, unfinished, but exciting, the opportunity to expand my vocabulary and to understanding other languages, other ways of thinking around the world.
2. Translation of transverse pages
The translation of the transverse pages (Contact, Aide…) and especially those of presentation (À propos and Travaux) is important because they inform the user and/or are part of the interface. This leads me to prune the entire site to clarify and refocus… and to push for later, in work in progress.
I don’t translate these pages with fidelity, but I contextualize depending on the language. Similarly, in real life, if you make the effort to start a conversation in the other people’s langage, you are quickly caught up with your low level. The objective is only to make my website more welcoming, with no other pretension. I don’t hide that the main language of this site remains French, although I hope to change for English.
3. Translations of the contents
In this multilingual website, I feel free to express myself in other languages. I wrote my first article in English, without translating from my native language, yay, so proud : Lost in translation, which explains my motivation. I translated an old post, Muriendo en Paris, for a Spanish friend, fan of the French band Béruriers Noirs, before awkwardly trying to Japanese haiku, オショーの弟子, for thank a beautiful travel meeting and, back in the office, I get my first Arabic lesson…
Now I translate some of my new articles. Not all. Only those that seem pertinent to bring to the understanding of other languages. And according to my motivation. Of course, my translations are stuffed of errors. Like raisins in a cake (maybe do you like that, but I hate raisins in cake). But at least I make an effort to speak in other languages. And it’s not by concealing my mistakes that I will progress.
For translations, theme or version, I use a collaborative online text editor, framapad, which allows to write together and my polyglot friends can read back, like all the Internet. Also feel free to correct me !
How to navigate multilingual ?
Translating a website is not just translate its various texts. I also must think the navigation among them. How to organize it in a multilingual website, i.e. with articles in different languages and where the user, this teaser, can change the interface language at any time ? I always chooses which leaves the greatest freedom to the user.
- The user selects the language that suits him to visit the site, eg German ;
- transverse pages, sections, search, etc. are displayed in that language ;
- in this environment, he can read the website’s articles, each in its langage (mainly French, but also English and a few Spanish) and can switch to the available translations, while maintaining a context that speaks his choice’s langage, German so.
So have fun by changing the language of this site… and mixing languages. Kommen Sie verlieren in translation conmigo !