Thursday, April 27, 2006

Competition - Part II

In the previous post on the blog I wrote about the new competition. It turns out that the organisation behind the competion has competition and when you are that competion, you compete. What I fail to see is the relevance of the latest entry. In contrast to both ProZ and the logosdictionary from Logos, its aims only to be there for translators. Where they ask people to collaborate the registration makes it plain that you have to be a translator to qualify.

I wish them well, I hope they do it for there own good reasons. Collaborate ? Maybe, when they show added value by providing a public service. At this time it seems like a "me to" thing.


Sunday, April 23, 2006


Competition is seen as the mechanism that keeps organisations sharp. It drives innovation and it helps build a healthy ecosystem that drives innovation. WiktionaryZ now has its own competition; ProZ, the organisation of translators, has introduced their new service called Wikiwords. Wikiwords builds on the foundation laid by the KudoZ system; this is a system where translators help each other out with problematic words or phrases. The system has been in place for many years and resulted in a rich resource.

The new system is in its first iteration so it will be interesting to see how they will fix the issues we face in WiktionaryZ. One of the issues I discussed with Henry is the importance of definitions. A recent new concept is the English word Load, it was translated to the Macedonian Вчитува but as there is no definition at all, I do not know if the translation to Dutch of lading or laden is applicable. Another issue is that I would expect the word Load to be written like load.

Obviously, this is the first iteration of the software and I do wish ProZ well with their new project. It is however particularly in the first month that the policies are set and I wish them wisdom in setting the right tone and generating interest.

In the FAQ it is made clear that ProZ has not decided on a license yet. I hope that they will settle on the GFDL, this will allow the exchange of data, it will allow us to duke it out on technology, learning from each others approaches and at the same time collaborate on content.

I really want this friendly technological fight of who can provide the best technology and the best user interface while the data is there to be shared by all.


Saturday, April 15, 2006

When to try to stop a running train

WiktionaryZ is about to become editable. Not as in next month, not as in next week (seven days) but as in this week. It is a moment that fills me with anticipation. It is a moment that will teach us what will work and what won't. I want it badly.

Still, I do want Erik to make one change before we can add translations and synonyms. Without it I prefer not to have it...

What is so important that I want to stop the momentum, even if it is for a day or two? It is the flag that indicated that a translation is a good translation; it is what I call the flag for the IndiginousMeaning.

For the understanding of what a DefinedMeaning, this flag is absolutely essential. The biggest struggle for WiktionaryZ will be to make people understand what this means and how it limits what can be done.

It is truly key that we have this from the start. I hope you forgive me and, that you can wait the extra day.


Wednesday, April 12, 2006

Babel templates user level 5

Today Nautilus, a user of WiktionaryZ left me a note on my talk page. He proposed to change the babel-5 template from something like "This user speaks English on a professional level" to something like "This user makes use of English for professional purposes".
Now maybe you wonder why that ... well, when it comes to translators it happens that a person is 100% proficient in reading highly qualified technical texts and is a great translator for that, but the actual level of the language would be to be cosidered as 3 and not 4 like most people would assume. Well, speak a language on a professional level does not have a specific meaning. So for people who use a language for work the proposal "This user makes use of English for professional purposes" makes a lot of sense. I would say we should adapt this, so that this becomes clear. Maybe we should also have a look at the other templates in order to make sure they do really reflect a standardised meaning.



Tuesday, April 11, 2006

The Swadesh list is becoming relevant for WZ

The Swadesh list is this list of 207 English Expressions designed by Morris Swadesh to determine the closeness of a pair of languages. As it is a known method of determining exactly this, it makes sense to use it as one of our tools as well.

There are several things to having a Swadesh list; first of all if someone comes along and wants to make a point about a language, a dialect it is a perfect tool to separate the people that do from the people that whine. I know for instance that Westfries is a dialect, I lived in the region of Westfriesland for my younger years but I cannot create a Swadesh list for Westfries. The few words I know, I do not know how to spell and as a consequence I will not champion Westfries; I am the wrong person for that.

When the Swadesh list is translated, you will also find that there are synonyms, Expressions representing multiple DefinedMeanings. These in turn can also be translated and that would be in my opinion be a perfect tool to see how well these in turn are translated to all the other languages. This would be a perfect tool to see how active a language community is.

Now at this time three Swadesh projects on WiktionaryZ have started; one for the Neapolitan language, the Sicilian language and for the Greek language.