Saturday, 7 June 2008

Llyfr-Gwyneb for 21st Century Cymru

Facebook chooses to speak Welsh
Jun 7 2008 by Steffan Rhys, Western Mail

FACEBOOK – one of the world’s most popular websites – could soon be fully launched in Welsh after a group of users began translating it.

The social networking site is already partially available in Welsh after hundreds of its key terms, like “homepage”, were translated by people keen to use the site primarily in their first language.

Though Facebook is the world’s sixth most trafficked website with more than 70 million users worldwide, eight million in the UK and 323,000 in Wales, Wales is one of only 31 nationalities trying to translate it into their own language.
The website – which allows users to hold conversations, provide “updates” on what they are doing, upload photographs, arrange events and create protest groups – offered the opportunity to translate its pages into those languages for which it received the most requests.
The process of creating an entirely Welsh site has been split into three stages with users given almost complete control over which terms and phrases to use.

Facebook, with its fastest growing demographic now people aged over 25, says on its website: “We’ve opened the translation process up to the community because you know best how Facebook should be translated into your language.
“Please participate as much as you like in translating, voting, and discussion with your fellow translators.”
The first step is to translate Facebook’s “core” terms.
These are terms most commonly used on the website, such as links to the site’s homepage, an individual user’s profile, or a message board.
Suggestions for Welsh versions are then voted on by fellow users, with the most commonly accepted term adopted.
This initial stage has been completed in the Welsh language.

The second step is to translate the whole of Facebook into Welsh, which involves around 20,000 phrases but which has already been 44% completed.
The final stage involves testing and verifying the changes. Once this is done, an entirely Welsh Facebook can be launched.

A German site was launched this week.
However, the completion of the initial stage means users can already have their entire profiles and update their personal information in Welsh.
More than 400 users are currently contributing to transforming the site, where a leaderboard shows who has contributed the most successful suggestions.
In comparison, nearly 7,000 people have contributed to the Spanish version, 3,400 to the German version, and 2,000 to the Polish version, but less than 100 are involved in creating a Portuguese version and only 150 in translating the site into Norwegian.

Among the translators is Hedd Gwynfor, of Cymdeithas yr Iaith Gymraeg.
“It’s important that Welsh is seen as an everyday language, because at the moment, although it is seen on things like road signs, it’s still not available in large parts of the private sector so it only gets associated with the public sector,” he said.
“Having it on Facebook shows it’s modern and can compete with other languages in the world.
“It normalises the language. At the moment you have to go out of your way to deal in Welsh and many people just give up.
“This could encourage other companies to start offering Welsh.”

However, some of the peculiarities of the Welsh language have led to difficulties in translating some of Facebook’s phrases.
This has led to online debates about which terms and phrases are grammatically correct, for example whether to use the Welsh word “ti” or “chi”, which both mean “you” but vary in their formality.
Other subjects of lively debate include whether “am” and “pm” as expressions of time should be translated into Welsh, which they currently are.
A hotly contested subject is the correct Welsh word for “upload”, one of social networking’s most common terms.
And whether the subject of a phrase is male or female has also caused difficulties, because of gender’s influence on words in Welsh.

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