Wikipedia translation tool

I’ve decided to do some more work on the Wikipedia translation tool I started in 2005. Amazing what having another deadline will do to you.

I started it originally for helping me with translating Wikipedia country templates from English to Afrikaans, and it’s easily to extend to other languages as well (not only FROM English to X-lang, but from X-lang to Y-lang). My aim in doing this was to write a tool that could support the efforts of translators to populate all the South African language wikipedias. I’ve found it remarkably useful in speeding up my work. I used it particularly for templates, as they were a quick way to get a reasonable number of core articles translated, not for the actual body of articles, which are a whole different thing.

The mechanism is pretty simple:

  • copy the template from the English edit page
  • paste into a textarea on a webpage and click translate
  • the new version appears, and can be pasted into the new Afrikaans article

Current status

  • there are currently 165 strings in my tiny little database
  • the database consists, basically, of a table with phrases, and an English and Afrikaans column
  • strings can be single words, such as French (translated to Frans) or phrases such as French language, translated to Franse taal. You can see the advantage in using a phrase translator.
  • For obvious reasons, the translation tool words from longest string (in English) to shortest, so the phrase French language is translated before French

The future

  • I envisage extending the tool to include other languages. This can easily be done by adding a new table column in the database, and populating these.
  • I also see people being able to submit sample translation phrases online to rapidly grow the database. Potentially, phrases could also be stored per user, so that if they’re unhappy with the ‘central’ translation, they can substitute their own and not be slowed down in their editing.
  • There are already databases and tools out there. None of them were easily usable by me at the time, and it was quicker to write my own. I plan to look more carefully at what’s out there, import existing databases, etc

The point is that it’s not meant to be a complete or 100% accurate translation. But if greatly simplifies the work of an editor. The editor will of course manually go through the resultant page, translating any missing strings, and sorting out any grammar etc oddities that arose.

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