Multilingual communication

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Multilingual communication is communication beyond the borders of languages.

For example a Chinese editor who knows no English communicates with an English editor who knows no Chinese. They both do it writing and reading their native languages only. How is this possible?

It is possible on wiki, and needs only a rather simple change of the wikiengine to supply the prerequisites for it to develop.

Social desire for multilingualism[edit]

Multilingual communication is a social phenomena. It does not develop because of technical prerequisites. It develops because there is a need, a desire in people to have it.

Little technical changes, when amplified through hundreds of eager users, can allow development that before has been hindered. Multilingual communication will not necessarily happen when wikiengines are improved, but it surely will not happen if they are not changed.

Wikipedia today[edit]

Take a look at wikipedia today. What do you see? Groups of people who - each for themselves - are making encyclopedias. Why isn't there one multilingual Wikipedia 25 times as brilliant instead of 25 Wikipedias in 25 languages?

  • Note that there is a decent amount of content exported from en:, de:, and fr: to other languages. The poor interface hasn't kept a certain amount of synchronization from occuring... That said, it could be ten times easier with a little extra interfacre work. +sj+ 18:55, 9 Aug 2004 (UTC)

Current MediaWiki interface[edit]

I asked the question above on IRC #mediawiki. Why is it? "It's because of the interface" was the answer. That is to say the engine, the way the software is programmed; this is true. Wiki-engines already enable you to work multilingually and to translate contributions, but it is complicated and tiresome and therefore infrequently and inefficiently done.

I tried producing multilingual content with some enthusiasts on community-wiki: multilingual experiment We also improved our wikiengine engine (OddMuse it's called) to make it easier. There are different colored backgrounds to seperate the languages and there are filters to filter out languages. The read mode (enhanced by language filters at the bottom of [each] page) works fine already. Reading a monolingual page and a page with all languages exept one language filtered out is equal, is alike, it has no differences and no disadvantages.

The edit mode is still problematic. Pages have paragraphs in different languages and you see them when editing the page. This is confusing and tiresome. There should be filters in the edit mode as well to make this work. Some codework to be done, I guess.

  • You probably need the different languages to be stored separately in the database, and only combined when needed by translators. Imagine a 10-language page, being translated into Finnish by an editor who only reads Finnish and Russian... what should they see? +sj+

Specific uses of a better interface[edit]

The Chinese-only person writes something in Chinese. A bilingual person thinks it's good and translates it to English. The English only person thinks it is worth answering and answers on it in English. A bilingual person likes the answer and translates it to Chinese. The Chinese only person reads it. Eccolo, voila, bingo, na also!

There is a good deal of translation work coming in the near future. Take a look at how it can be streamlined by means of automatic pretranslation, translation memory, and linking of versions for translation on wikifeatures-wiki: automatic translation

Related ideas[edit]

editable titles and clean linking

Coordination / other MultilingualCommunication pages[edit]

As this is a wikilandia-wide issue and concerns different wikiengines and various communities there is a "central" page on the "project" to keep informed about the allover developement. Community-wiki: multilingual communication

The same contents was started on:

Recent developments[edit]

A fair way for all languages to communicate multilingually on wikipages is exposed on the multilingual page:

(here linked using the fully multilingual compatible editable titles)

Language specific guidelines[edit]

See also[edit]