Tuesday, January 05, 2010

Plurk Twitters in Tongues - for free?

Plurk, a microblogging site, is taking off where Twitter is struggling.

Plurk offers services in 33 different local languages, including Russian, Hindi, Chinese in traditional and simplified character forms, Arabic, Hebrew, Greek and Japanese; with 45 more getting ready for release. While Twitter is behind in this language support race, they have quickly added Italian, French and Spanish within the last month in response.

While Twitter blames the difficulties of localising in Asian languages, Plurk seems to have solved the same issue with their language strategy: they send out an e-mail with a string of English to volunteer translators to localize the content and send it back. Head translators lead teams of users, and they vote for the best language usage when they run into unusual English slang or a new phrase. Many translators come from the open-source community and are willing to work without pay. Their only reward, aside from Plurk in their own language, is a virtual Rosetta Stone badge they can put on their Plurk user profile.

There is a surprising amount of people who have a strong desire to localize for free a site to have it in their own language. Plurk is not the only such website - Facebook is also dependant on crowd-translation.

Beats me why. Maybe I am a greedy capitalist, or just read in too many languages to bother translating for free, or maybe it is a generational gap. The motto seems to be "If you preach information for free, you need to slave for it". Fair enough!

But it doesn't always work well - one irate user wrote: "This is complete nonsense. It isn't localized in 33 languages or anywhere near it. The only localization I can see is for the word "is" in the two languages I checked - and in one of them (Irish) it's syntactically incorrect as the developers have failed to understand the most basic concepts of internationalization. All BS." :-D

Still some work left for us, professional, paid translators. Hurray!

For all your English to Arabic and vice versa translations that will help you expand your business into the Middle East visit Arabic Language Experts at http://www.arabic.com.au/.

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