Site Translation Guidelines

This page is a set of guidelines for those who wish to help with translating the SuttaCentral site, as opposed to the texts themselves.

First up, thanks so much for your interest! I hope we can work together to help bring the Dhamma to people all across the world.

Internationalization (i18n) & Localization (l10n)

In computing, the words "Internationalization" and "Localization" are often abbreviated to i18n and l10n respectively. They refer to the process of preparing a site to be translated into multiple languages (i18n) and actually translating into a specific language (l10n). You can read more about them on the World Wide Web Consortium site.

The aim of l10n is to produce a site that feels as natural and native to the users in each end language as it does in English.

How i18n Works

Essentially what we do is extract all the "strings" of English text from the site, assign each a unique ID, and import them into Pootle. This includes things like:

  • Text on the Home page and other static pages
  • Menus, sidebars, and so on
  • Popups, text describing images, and the like
  • Blurbs describing the texts

Thus the content encompasses both things that are general to all websites, as well as things that are specific to Buddhism.

Once the content is in Pootle, a "project" can be created to translate it into any language. When ready, the newly translated text strings can be exported to the site. Users will then be able to select to see the site in that language.

For Translators

SuttaCentral has a wide range of Dhamma friends around the world, and we hope to find volunteers to do the translation work. Here are some recommendations.

  1. Work with a small team. Rather than going it alone, we recommend that each language be translated by a group of two to four people, sharing the tasks of translating and proofreading. We can help build a team for your language.
  2. Proofread everything. (Oh, and if you see a mistake or problem in the English text, let us know.)
  3. Be natural. Translate in a way that feels clear and idiomatic in your language. It shouldn't read like a translated text. Literalism is the last resort of the incompetent translator!
  4. Don't try to do everything. Any untranslated strings will simply fall back to their English defaults, so no harm done. Just do what you can.
  5. Use good style. There is a nice guide to writing style on Google's Material Design site. Have a read.
  6. When in doubt, ask!