The roads I take...

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Displaying recent entries in English and tagged with "German". Back to all recent entries

Popular tags: Mozilla, SeaMonkey, L10n, Status, Firefox

Used languages: English, German

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June 12th, 2013

Linguistically Mistaking Phrases

I've been back from my vacation and the Preserving Software summit at the Library of Congress for more than a week now, but still haven't blogged about anything, and I recently didn't blog too much at all, mostly because I always fear it takes up too much time. In the last few days, I decided I'll do shorter posts but do them more often, so I hopefully get to communicate more of what's going around in my head (thoughts on that summit will follow as well when I get around to them). Here's the first installment of this, let's see how it goes.

I just listened to a "Fireside Chat" (sorry, only available to Mozillians) with Brendan Eich, conducted by Pascal Finette. One thing that did strike me there was the use of two phrases, by each of them, and their chances of being mistaken from the point of view of English/German crossover.

Pascal, a native German (his accent gives that away as well), is using "a couple" (e.g. "of times", etc.) in many questions in this interview. Now, the interesting thing there is that in German, we're using "ein paar" (which literally translates to "a couple") a lot, usually meaning "an undetermined amount larger than one but smaller than 'a lot'". We are very tempted to use this the same way in English, as it comes very naturally to us - but in US English, I notice that "a couple" usually means "(more or less) exactly two", so when we mean "some probably between 4 and 7 times", we may end up saying "a couple times" and the US English native speaker understands "twice". Oops. We better had said "a few times". I learned this in detail when I requested to stay "a couple weeks" in the office around a work week and thought there would be later discussion of how many weeks exactly, when the other side was "OK, he wants two weeks, he'll get two weeks". Note that in German there is "ein Paar" (different capitalization) which means the same as "a couple", but in most cases we just say "zwei"/"two" so it can't be mistaken.

On the other side, Brendan starts the reply to some questions with "that's a good question" - which, as I learned over the years, is a usual phrase to compliment the person the question came from and say that this is an important issue to ask and talk about. Now, in German, this literally translates to "das ist eine gute Frage" - which we usually say when we recognize that it's an interesting question but we still need to think about this and don't have any really fitting answer, often coming up with one as we go on this. If you're a native German speaker, be aware that English speakers don't usually have that connotation to this phrase, actually they're often happy someone asked this because it's something they have thought about long and hard and have come up with a really good answer for already. If you're not a German speaker, be aware that those who are might understand it this way and be surprised or take your answer as weaker instead of stronger as you intended.


I'm sure there's tons of other misunderstandings between phrases in different languages for sure, I'm mentioning those two because I heard them in this "chat", it's (the) two languages I know quite well, and they're even in the same language family (in linguistics called "Germanic languages") - and still run into things like that.
I'm always interested about such nuances, if you have any to share, feel free to comment here or blog about them yourself, here in this global Mozilla community, it's always nice to learn from each other! :)

By KaiRo, at 17:41 | Tags: English, German, languages, Mozilla | 8 comments | TrackBack: 0

January 1st, 2010

10 Years of German Mozilla releases

Here's is more on my 10 years in the project: Exactly 10 years ago today, on January 1st, 2000, I released the first fully localized Mozilla release or milestone in German.

(I actually posted about its availability 2 hours before midnight my time, but didn't have any place to upload files back then, so I consider the next day the actual release day, when others could upload them somewhere to be accessible to the public.)

Yes, right on the "Y2K day" so many people feared, just 15 days after I posted first on the L10n group and was assigned German localizer, I made a fully localized M12 available to the public - starting a story that is still ongoing, now with a community of German localizers bringing all major Mozilla applications to the largest user base of a locale other than US English, and me still doing the suite part of that, now under the SeaMonkey brand.

To celebrate this anniversary, I added a download page and news story for that release to the German SeaMonkey website today (and the same for M13, which was also still missing).

I almost can't believe I've been serving the German community those builds for 10 years now - and most of that time, I did all the packaging myself, creating language packs and tearing apart en-US binaries to create German one by replacing the L10n files, manually in the beginning, with a script in later years. It's only been now since SeaMonkey 2.0 (including Alpha/Beta) that the Mozilla build machinery has started to produce those for the suite as well and I don't have to run things locally and by myself.

With that, I wish a successful new year ("Ein erfolgreiches neues Jahr" in German) and hope for continuing to serve the community with localized builds for a long time to come!

By KaiRo, at 00:00 | Tags: German, history, L10n, Mozilla, SeaMonkey | 3 comments | TrackBack: 0

December 19th, 2009

10 Years of Work on Mozilla

(I know I'm very late for a Weekly Status Update, I still need to write up the one for last week, hope to come to it soon.)

I wanted to write this post on the day of the actual anniversary, but I got caught in a few other things... In any case, On December 17th, 1999, which happens to be just two days more than 10 years today, I wrote a small, innocent newsgroup message:

Quote of Robert Kaiser:
Newsgroups: netscape.public.mozilla.l10n
Subject: how to contribute?

Hi!

I'd like to help with German translation of Mozilla. How can I do that?
Is there somebody already working on that?
How to contribute so that I don't work hours and be rejected then? (I
already tried some work & I've read all I could find about localization
of Moz with DTDs...)

KaiRo

And I got an instant reply from the back-then L10n coordinator at Netscape/Mozilla, containing among other things those two sentences:

Quote of Tao Cheng:
If you have no objection, I'll put you as the German translation
contributor. The upcoming release is M12.

That was "fatal" in the sense that it pointed to my fate in the upcoming years. What has started with trying what that technology could do was turning into a major mission.
In the hours or days before, I had (out of interest what new things would come out of my beloved Netscape side of the "browser wars") downloaded a new milestone version of this "Mozilla" development software, whose downloadable test binaries were provided under the "project Seamonkey". I was intrigued by the open philosophy but also the technology, as it looked like I would understand those UI files in the "chrome" directory, and they were even easier than the Visual Basic stuff I knew! Among other things like playing with the CSS and what I could screw there (birth of the LCARStrek theme), I tried if replacing the strings in those *.dtd files would really have an influence on the screen by putting German words instead of English ones in there - and it worked! I tried a few more things, read up on all kinds of info about this L10n effort with DTD files, and decided I could help this open-minded project by contributing to the German localization.
And after that reply from Tao, I was suddenly leading the German efforts (note that he's talking of "THE German translation contributor") and saw myself in the mission of providing a full translation of that early development piece of software.

10 years later, I can't believe how long it's been, where it has led to and what a fun ride it turned out to be. I've seen lots of things here with Mozilla in those years, I've got to know a huge number of very bright and incredibly cool people in all parts of the project, and I lived with it through seeing Netscape slowly go down, being an enthusiastic player on the sidelines of the game the Internet world played, up to the rise of Firefox, its incredible success, contributing to the installation of a new Mozilla Foundation Executive Director, and the funding and stabilization of the SeaMonkey project, and I hope I'll still have many more years to be with that project, do something for the greater world and our community, leave my footprints here and there, and above all, have fun working with all those cool people we have in the Mozilla community.

I would have never imagined that this small newsgroup message would change my life in such a large way, but 10 years later I couldn't be happier about actually having taken that step and get this ball rolling by offering my help.

I encourage everyone to not think twice in similar situations and try to help a cool project like Mozilla if they have the chance to - the rewards are much higher than the effort you invest in it!

By KaiRo, at 18:54 | Tags: German, history, L10n, Mozilla, SeaMonkey | 4 comments | TrackBack: 0

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