I recently posted some questions to GNOME’s i18n mailing list <firstname.lastname@example.org> and I think that they raise some interesting questions about the difficulties of using minority languages in Linux. I am reposting them here to see if anyone has any comments/suggestions:
We are creating a new distro called PluriOS, which is focused on users in Bolivia, and one of our goals is to offer the interface in Aymara, Quechua and Guaraní, which are native languages spoken in Bolivia. Our distro is a derivative of Ubuntu Cinnamon Remix, so we are mainly focused on translating Cinnamon, but there are some elements that we need to translate in GNOME, such as the menus. Our goal is to translate about 10K words for each language and create a glossary of common terms (like “file”, “directory”, “user”, “menu”, “window”, etc.) and then try to recruit volunteers to translate the rest using our glossary.
So far we have translated 10,300 words of Cinnamon into Aymara, and that has taken us 6 months, so it has been really slow going. It seems that every 5th word requires half an hour of discussion, because we have to create so many neologisms. Even deciding how to rephoneticize words in Aymara seems to require discussion (like should “computer” be rephoneticized as “kumputatura” or “kumputarura”).
I noticed that there is no “ay” locale in libc for Aymara, but there is a “ayc” locale in libc for Southern Aymara, so I guess that I am going to have to file a bug report in libc to create the “ay” locale. My question is whether there is any way for the “ayc” locale to default to “ay”, since they are the same language.
My second question is about these instructions:
If you have a mailing list, and want bug reports to go there (recommended): Create a GNOME Gitlab account for your mailing list and log in. On https://gitlab.gnome.org/Teams/Translation/XX (replace XX by your language code), click the Bell dropdown and change it from “Global” to “Watch”.
When I go to https://gitlab.gnome.org/Teams/Translation/ay, I see “not found”. Am I supposed to create a mailing list with some external service (like Google or Yahoo)?
My third question is whether there is any way to make the “ay” locale default to a language other than English if there is no available translation. Very few Aymara speakers know English, but almost all of them know Spanish, so I would like Spanish to be displayed if an Aymara translation isn’t available. Is this possible?
I ran into this same problem when translating, because our principal Aymara translator doesn’t know English, so I created a instrans.php script to insert the Spanish translations in the PO files so we could translate from Spanish rather than from English (see the instrans.php –comment example in my documentation).
I guess that I could just copy all the Spanish translations into the Aymara translation files using my instrans.php script, but I was wondering if there is a more elegant solution.
My fourth question is how can I translate all the items in the principal menu. I found the https://gitlab.gnome.org/GNOME/gnome-menus project to translate the main menu categories (“Accessories”, “Education”, “Games”, etc.), but I don’t see where to translate the menu subitems under each category. For example, if I want to translate all the subitems under the “Accessories” category (like “Archive Manager”, “Backups”, “Calculator”, “Characters”, “Clocks”, “Disks”, etc.), is there a project for that or do I have to find each individual program and translate its title and description for the menu.