Ardour Translations - Bad Idea?

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tomas vtipil
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Joined: 2007-11-13

One of my Linux systems has Czech locale, which means Ardour runs with Czech translation as well. It is very hard to use for me - although Czech is my first language, the menu entries and GUI signs barely make sense for me.

Don't get me wrong please, I don't disrespect anyone's work - the translator is probably not the one to blame. I would't be able to do it much better. The problem is that most of the terms is standardized and commonly known in English anyway, and trying to translate them leads to a lot of confusion (sometimes funny, nevertheless annoying).

Given a group of Czech sound engineers and musicians would discuss some audio related topic - they wouldn't talk about "zvukový stroj", but "audio engin". They'd try to deal with "latency" instead of "prodleva", and I've never heard anyone mention "směšovač", since everybody knows what "mixer" (or "mixák") means. And so on. Yes, if I tried hard, I could find couple of genuine Czech words still used in the industry among local pros, but quite marginally, and all of them have commonly known and fully understandable English equivalents.

Which brings me to the thought:

Isn't the idea of localizing a DAW software just mistaken?

The more I think about it, the more I tend to think so.

I don't really know the situation in other languages, but i bet it is similar. When you buy a piece of audio equipment made in Germany, France, Spain or Japan, it'll typically have standard English signs on it - for good reason. It is industry standard, so it just makes the life a bit easier this way, for the manufacturers and users alike.

I don't really see any practical pluses of translations (apart of questionable promo effect of marketing Ardour as a fully localized DAW). I assume that close to 100% of potential Ardour users either have some knowledge of English or enough skills/possibilities to solve this problem (dictionaries, online translators, help of friends etc.) - a person without these resource would hardly setup a Linux computer, understand Ardour web enough to handle its download policy, learn how Jack works, instal Ardour etc. And long-term wise, even for a person with zero English knowledge, it is still better to invest some effort, look up those words and learn them, than get used to a set of obscure non-standard terms that nobody else would understand!

Dropping the translations would also erase some related problems like packaging issues or scrambled GUI because of unexpected line lengths.

Translations cost considerable effort lot of people. What a waste of manpower, especially in open-source project like this, where manpower is such a precious commodity! Wouldn't it be better to direct translators' effort to something that would actually make things easier for everybody, like testing or documentation?

Managing the translations also requires some time and attention from the devs side, which could be dedicated to something more useful instead.

Please do not take this too seriously. I know this may sound a little lofty and really, no offense intended. I admit that my opinion is still not rock solid on this, it's just an idea open for discussion. So please let me know what you think or try to correct me if I'm wrong.



User offline. Last seen 1 year 18 weeks ago. Offline
Joined: 2013-06-22

why don't just use smth like

export LC_MESSAGES=en_US.UTF-8
export LC_NUMERIC=en_US.UTF-8


You can put this in ardour desktop file, or in your user autostart script (like ~/.xsession)

paul's picture
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Joined: 2006-03-16

(1) translators are generally not programmers, so their time spent translating is not time taken away from development
(2) as noted by lazyklimm, you can turn off translations via the environment, or via the Ardour Preferences editor (User Interaction tab)
(3) some users strongly prefer translation, and some do not. we aim to please both parties.

anahata's picture
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Joined: 2010-10-27

@tomas: In the traditional spirit of free software, if you speak Czech AND you are used to the terminology used by real Czech sound engineers, you could volunteer to improve the Czech translation package. You may be the first Ardour user to have that knowledge!

Also, even though the menus and some or the names may be well known in their English forms, would it not still be useful to have longer texts like error messages translated into the user's native language?

linuxdsp's picture
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Joined: 2009-02-04

..texts like error messages translated into the user's native language?

I don't understand most linux error messages, even when they are in English and that is my native language.. :)

User offline. Last seen 3 days 4 hours ago. Offline
Joined: 2011-11-16

I can only talk for Swedish tech people and I can assure you that almost everybody is using english as their prefered gui and error message language since that's what we are used to. I think error messages in native non -english are really difficult to uderstand and searching the web about the error is a lot more difficult. That is often solved in other apps by using errors with both text and referense number.

Maybe Ardour should have an opt-in preference call back function to let developers know how to balance the language efforts.

paul's picture
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Joined: 2006-03-16

ahellquist: ardour developers spend close to zero time on "language efforts". We mark all strings that should/could be translated by surrounding them with _(). Translators do the rest.