One of the goals of Mobile Voices is for immigrants’ voices to be heard beyond their community. Toward that goal, we have begun experimenting with translating the vozmob stories, from Spanish to English.
Drupal has useful language features. By default, new posts are marked as “language neutral” (Idioma neutro). Translators can mark them as “Spanish”, which creates a new “Translate” tab. Clicking on that tab allows to pick a language in which to translate the post, which then creates a mirror post that can be edited in the new language. That translation is then linked to the original post via a mention of the language(s) in which it has been translated (found at the bottom of the post).
There are a number of issues though. By default, the translator becomes the author of the translated post, and the date on which the translation was done becomes the posting date. We have been editing that by hand to mark the translated post as authored by the original author and to restore the original posting date. But that’s still not perfect… a better way would be to keep track both of the original author and of the translator. This way, we could give credit to those who spend time translating while retaining authorship information.
One bigger problem comes from Drupal’s data architecture: if someone adds a comment to a post in Spanish, that comment will not show up on the translated version. Further, it seems there is no option to translate the comments. (for example the post “John” originally written in Spanish has been translated in English, but the two comments only show up in the Spanish version)
And how do we deal with translating voice clips? One option would be to transcribe them, then translate the transcription. When they are associated with pictures, we could also superimpose the translation on the pictures, like subtitles in a slide show.
Other issues we need to think about have to do with finding ways to enlist people to help translate the content (perhaps by working with IDEPSCA’s English-as-Second-Language classes?).
Are there any good examples of bilingual sites that have found elegant solutions to these issues?