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perldoc in translation

by neophyte (Curate)
on Apr 11, 2002 at 08:09 UTC ( #158245=perlmeditation: print w/replies, xml ) Need Help??

Not long ago little and I had a chatterbox conversation on this topic, because he just set out to translate the perlfaq into german. And he is not the only one: bjelli has already started a project for a German Translation of the Docs.


Even the faq is huge, so it is no small amount of work - but bjelli and little have valid reasons, I think:
little contributes to, a german forum for Perl - Users, and often encounters young people willing to learn perl that don't have sufficient knowledge of the English language to be able to understand the faq or any other part of perldoc.
Usually the persons in question are young and just have learned English for a short time at school. Should that be just tough luck?
Another point was the rising popularity of PHP (esp. in Germany, I guess this will be the same in other non-english-speaking countries) - with PHP the docs are available in several languages (not with the distribution itself but ready for download) - This makes it considerably easier for the student starting to dive into any scripting- and programming language.
Yes, there are books in a whole variety of languages - but I wouldn't expect a 14 year old to buy any technical book - they are expensive.

I can say the following about bjelli's motivation:
bjelli teaches perl both in adult education and at the university in austria. even the university students often don't know enought english to appreciate the man pages.

she started the project "Deutsche Perl Doku" in the summer of 2001, but after a short period of activity the work has pracically died down. the goal was/still is to create german translations in the pod format and feed that back into the normal perl distribution. there's a CVS server with 5 finished files, 5 more are "works in progress".

what now?

Of course I can tell anybody, if the books are too expensive for you, ask somebody to give them to you as xmas or birthday present.
Or I can translate the faq ever so often, because a faq question in comes up, and I have to translate parts of the faq for the one that asked.
Or we can try to set up a combined effort of German monks and mongers and French monks and mongers and Spanish speaking monks and mongers, to provide a version of the docs in those languages.
This will be difficult and a lot of work - bjelli and little already started doing their part and both a willing to translate more - What do you think? I especially would like to hear the opinion of Monks whose native language is not English.

This meditation is brought to you with the kind permissions of little and bjelli. Thanks to both of them.


Replies are listed 'Best First'.
Re: perldoc in translation
by Juerd (Abbot) on Apr 11, 2002 at 08:38 UTC

    I guess I'm luckey. Although my written and spoken English are very bad, I usually have no trouble reading Perl documentation. Reading the distribution perldocs was my main way of learning Perl, and yes, translated pages are lacking and much needed.

    There are, however, several reasons for me for not translating to Dutch. For starters, it's WAY too much, and would have to be done by multiple people. Another problem is that I can't decide on translating terms. Which words should not be translated, and how hard will it being consistent be? If you're not translating alone, you need to establish policies, etcetera etcetera. Even writing ABOUT Perl is hard if not in English, because you constantly have to decide whether you're going to translate a common Perl term.

    Yes, I reinvent wheels.

Re: perldoc in translation
by stefan k (Curate) on Apr 11, 2002 at 12:05 UTC
    well, the translators will probably have a hard time. I once started writing a german introduction to xemacs (which by now has become the 'official' german intro page) and I can tell that writing docs is no fun. Usually you won't be as accepted in the open source scene when you're writing docs (or do graphics or webstuff) compared to writing a programm. This is a real problem with the commnunity! You're probably off with a better reputation when you're writing the 10,000th email programm/IRC client or editor than when you're providing good docs.
    More than that I have made the experience that you receive patches/bug reports and feature requests for a programm _much_ more than for the docs you wrote.

    An argument from a totally different direction is that I really prefer reading the docs in english. For one it keeps my english uptodate, or even improves it, on the other hand I always have the feeling of "missing" something in german docs; it's the (unconscious) feeling that translated docs are probably outdated.

    And as a closing I will hereby offer to help translating a bit :) (insert usual time blurb here...)

    Regards... Stefan
    you begin bashing the string with a +42 regexp of confusion

Re: perldoc in translation
by nefertari (Chaplain) on Apr 11, 2002 at 10:00 UTC
    My native language is german and I have (nearly) no problems with english documentation, but that is because I read english books on my own. But for my father, who has to read medical books in english for his job (and has nearly no problems with them) english computing books are too difficult. For him german documentation would be very good. For very young people (the 14 years old ones) it would be good, too.

    But of the university students I think that they should learn to read english documentation, because there will be some day, where they won't get a german translation.

Re: perldoc in translation
by Molt (Chaplain) on Apr 11, 2002 at 16:16 UTC

    I'd just like to wish you luck on this. I only speak English, and never really realised Perldocs hadn't been translated into other languages. I suppose I always took it as granted they'd be available in all the major languages to be honest. This is a major hole in Perl's coverage, and I'm glad someone's patching this one up.

    Hopefully when there's a critical mass of documentation translated there should be people who use that documentation who'd be willing to help carry on the good work. Light at the end of the tunnel?

Brazilian Experience
by nferraz (Monk) on May 20, 2007 at 23:32 UTC

    We've set up a wiki at to write new articles and translate documentation.

    The interesting part is that we wrote a TWiki plugin to accept POD instead of wiki-markup or html, so we just published perldoc and allowed people to translate it; all the changes can be reviewed using version control and other TWiki features. (TWiki itself is written in Perl :-)).

    And I think that helped the project to be successful, given the number of registered users and translated files.

    BTW - I'd love to collaborate with other user groups to set up similar wikis.

Re: perldoc in translation
by jarich (Curate) on May 20, 2007 at 05:31 UTC

      The original thread start was 5 years ago.

      If you are interested in an attempt to translate perldoc into German, you may take a look at

      You are invited to contribute, too.

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