Wednesday, May 17, 2006

Healthcare and translation again ...

There are two more projects that care about translation in the healthcare sector. My original post tries go get them together in some way ...

Just now I read about the Hamad Medical Corporation working in that field as well.

The other day there was news about Asian language barriers in the medical field.

Now all these efforts could be centered in one single place ... co-operating: WiktionaryZ. Maintaining terminology and these phrases so many time creates much work ... efforts are multiplied ... by co-operating on one neutral source all can have their phrases and also others can use them and contribute. Time may be used more efficiently since there is only one single place to maintain and not various.

Of course we are trying to connect to these people, we are trying to get them together ... it makes so much sense ... and in the end: all is about helping people who really need help.

Wikiword ... or how a tool uses Wikipedia to extract terminology

Wikipedia is linked from one language to the other using so-called Interwiki-Links. These Interwiki-Links help us translators during our everyday work to search for the translation of specific terminology and the explanation of often complicated subject matters.

Quite some time ago the user Duesentrieb had the great idea of WikiWord (not to be mistaken for the Wikiwords project by ProZ) – a piece of software that shows up the relations from one language to the other – today this project already reached a stage where it can be very useful for translators.

If you for example wonder how the acronym LSD is used in connection with the term Rotation (with language = English) you will use this kind of search:
go to the LSD search

Should you like to know the translation/relations of the term "water" from English to Dutch, you will use this kind of search:
go to the "water" search

I tried this software with some other words – it will help us a lot in searching particular terminology and even more when it comes to less used language combinations. For now you can combine the languages English, German, French, Dutch and Norwegian. Italian (well I mention this because it is important for me) and other languages is only a matter of time.

The tool is still in development and the server this tool is running on is limited in what in can do. I suppose that when it is a valuable service, we can make sure that this service will be there in the future

So: have fun trying out this new tool and let me know what you think about it.

Monday, May 15, 2006

Over 250 users on WiktionaryZ

Isn't it strange ... you work on a website every day - look at it many many times during the day ... and then, by chance you have a look at the Main Page and you see that on May 11 WiktionaryZ reached 250 users and that in this specific moment we have 258 ....

I suppose most people would expect me to look at these statistics ... but strange enough: I don't - on one hand because I look at the community and find it great when I see that they have fun working ... on the other hand: I simply don't have the time to look at this ... it is like with all these ratings etc. - they are not too relevant as long as our community has fun to do what it is doing.

One thing I would like to say to all people working on Open Content and Open Source projects - without distinction where: Thank you! - You are making the world a great place!

Making endangered languages fun ....

In the Neapolitan discussion group we are discussing about languages ... how to protect them ... how to make them fun ... how to make sure they will survive ...

It is not an easy task, but only caring about a Wikipedia and a dictionary (in Wiktionary or WiktionaryZ) is not enough. Like Berto said: we need cool stuff, things that attract young people ... it must be fun and cool again to speak and write another language, the mother tongue maybe or that one of friends.

Let's take the example of Neapolitan. Now you will say: well, but it is not in the red book of endangered languages ... not now ... if we stand here and wait it will be part of it very soon. Oh yes, great ... there are all these famous songs, poems, films ... well: they are confined in their angle ... we need Neapolitan in everyday life.

I was answering to Berto's "we need something fun for young people to start off with" ... when a link came along my way, by chance, through Gerard - the link to the website of a Wikipedian ... and there I found something really interesting: a link to a comic they are creating: - well, it is a comic ... have a look at the archive ... fun stuff ... well yes, we should translate it into Neapolitan ... and I already have the answer: we may translate it into any language.

That leads me to what we need in Neapolitan (and of couse the same is valid for all other languages as well)

  • people need to understand that what they speak is a language - that it has a high cultural value and that it should be treated like English, French, Italian, Spanish etc. - they should be very proud of it
  • we need the language to be used in everyday life - not only with friends
  • we need localised software
  • we need localised websites
  • we need localised games
  • we need cartoons, new stories, news
  • we need our wikipedia :-)
  • we need a freely accessible dictionary with downloadable data
  • we need spell checkers
  • we need to get old documents out to the public - even only scanned without OCR
Well, there is one more thing we need: people who share our goals ... we really do need them. Please get into touch with us - on wikipedia, by e-mail, in chat, on skype ... we will try to connect you to the people who care about your language.

Besides caring about language only: old traditions need to be kept alive ... just thinking about the Neapolitan cribs in Maiori ... how to make Mozzarella (handmade) ... we should write down stories old people tell us ... but how much can a handful of people do?

Now you might say: well, I would like to do something, but even if I am of Neapolitan origin I don't speak the language ... no probs ... if you want to help: there are many, many things to do ... first of all: look in the old stuff you have at home, ask your grandparents, try to find texts, photos ... all is important ... it is like a giant jigsaw puzzle ... each piece needs to find its place.

Well, I could go ahead ... there's so much to do and to write about and for sure I will come back to this theme over and over again.

Saturday, May 13, 2006

Languages ... languages ... languages ... and contents

Working on WiktionaryZ brings up many, many questions. Today, considering rare and minority languages we encountered a problem: these languages don't have a place on where to publish articles, contents (like in Wikisource), create encyclopaedic contents like in Wikipedia ... definitely we don't have a place for that right now.

One possibility, considering that Multilingual MediaWiki is being programmed, could be to create one wiki per project where languages that don't have enough contributing members can create contents in their language. This would mean we have "one general wiki" for minority and rare langauges where people can create their contents. It could also become the basis for a "new language creation policy" - this means: people can create and edit there, grow their user base, and when certain criteria are met they can pass over to their own project ... but: does this really make sense? I mean: having an own wikipedia means that administration work becomes much more than just editing on a Multilingual MediaWiki ... there people can concentrate on creating contents instead of having to loose time to create and re-create substructures. The same is valid for Wikisource and Wikinews ... hmmm ... I know that this is one of those controversial arguments ... one of those where people fight and talk and talk and talk for hours ...

Fact is: we need a place where new languages (and in these times we are mainly talking about rare and minority languages or languages of regions where people don't have easy Internet access) can easily be started, a place where not too many requirements must be met to start off ... a place that welcomes even one new article a month or one edit a week.

Will we be able, open enough and tolerant enough to have such a place? I really hope so.

There is one strange thing: I planned this article, knew what I wanted to write, but while writing my thoughts went a different way and I just wrote what came into mind ... and this is the result.

Friday, May 12, 2006

Healthcare and communication problems ... solved?!?!

Well ... they could be solved up to quite a good level. We are already had contact with people from Mediphrase. Since WiktionaryZ was then still read-only and we could not show the potentials we did not take further steps. Now, just some minutes ago, I found an article on that talked about a similar project done in Virginia. We already knew that people working in health care often incur in the same problem: they need to deal with people who don't understand their language. So the translation of phrases like:

- I need to draw a blood specimen.
- You are going to feel a needle stick.

Indeed are very useful. What we would very much like to see is the co-operation of all interested parties and we would be happy to host the related terminology and phrases on WiktionaryZ where people can add further translations, create relations, where the download in TBX format will allow for offline use. This will result in advantage for all involved parties and patients will be able to communicate more effectively with health workers and doctors.

I would very much like to see the interested parties partnering ... it would make so much sense - also because: bad communication in some cases might kill ...

Wednesday, May 03, 2006

Evangelism ...

Being Evangelist for Wiktionaryz ... not always an easy task ... and quite a lot of responsibility ...

The other day I received a mail - I'm not going to tell you by who, being it a private mail - telling me to "Use the title with great pride!" This came a from a person I higly esteem and I herewith would like to say: Thank you! I needed it in just that moment.

When it comes to evangelism most of what I learnt comes from one single person: Guy Kawasaki. Very often I am not sure if I am doing the right thing - of course many steps are planned - many others instead are just the result of what I feel that needs to be done.

If you have your dream and hesitate to make it become true, the only advice I can give you is: live your dream and chances are high that it will become true. I would also very much like to suggest you to read some of Guy's books (a list is also present on Wikipedia) and his blog. My personal favourites are Rules for Revolutionaries, How to Drive your Competition Crazy and the latest one The Art of the Start, which truly helps a lot considering that WiktionaryZ actually is a non-profit project under an open license.

Strange postings these days, right? Not much about language industry, WiktionaryZ, OmegaT etc. ... well, yes, I still feel strange (see the WiktionaryZ effect ;-).

Monday, May 01, 2006

Is there something wrong with mom? Or: the WiktionaryZ effect ;-)

Imagine two four-year-old kids looking at their mom thingking "there must be something veeeeery wrong ... did she get mad...?" - well no, I did not get mad, but my first reaction when the e-mail of Erik arrived was quite .... ehm .... loud. WiktionaryZ has taken exactly 19 months from the first talks between Gerard and me and a pre-alpha editabilty. Now you say: well, it's fine that it is editable, but it is only pre-alpha ... and so: what is so extraordinary of that dictionary? Hmmm ... I am feeling as if the world from one second to the other has changed. I made my first edit yesterday on April 30, 2006 at 17:16 UTC. From then on a meccanism started that is still not over - I was not even able to write all my contacts that it is definitely there ... only the English-speaking contacts were informed ... of course: first of all we had to try out if things work smootly and they almost do. Then answering e-mails coming in started ... I just could not say: no, they have to wait. Discussions through IRC and chat ... it was great ... and my kids there ... looking at me a bit worried about all that hyperactivity ... but then again: Carlie and Lola, a cartoon for kids, became more interesting and I suppose they just thought "well, she'll calm down sooner or later" :-)

From this morning adding Neapolitan was possible and of course I immediately started to try that out adding simple words like water and child.

Over 20 years have gone by since I had my first thought about "wouldn't it be great to have one dictionary where all the words you need can be found" - that was at language school when dealing with English, French and Spanish .... then there were no computers (at least no PCs like we know them today) - then, three years after that I started my computer specialisation with the newest personal computer on the market at that time - an IBM with Intel processor 8088 working with DOS 2.11 as OS ... and shortly afterwards the 8086 came out ... then I bought my first computer an Amstrad 1512 - with colour monitor (16!!!!! colours), a 10 MB hard disk, a 5 1/4'' floppy disk drive .... and I remember games like BigTop and Digger .... the games we played during break time. My parrot that once fairly angry due to the lack of attention had came over to sit on the keyboard and made me crash the computer (where I was finishing a home-work and than had to re-start over). I remember when I programmed my first apps with dBase III+ .... one of them was the first trial to get lists of words in there ...

And today ... there is that software called Mediawiki and you can work together on one project with people anywhere in the world - the only thing you need is a computer and an internet connection. You can talk in chat, via skype .... and the world became so small ...

Times are changing ... the world is changing ... how will WiktionaryZ change the world? (if so ...)