Mailinglist Archive: opensuse-translation (161 mails)

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Re: [opensuse-translation] capitalization in translations
  • From: "Jakub Hegenbart" <jakub.hegenbart@xxxxxxxxx>
  • Date: Sun, 11 May 2008 20:27:44 +0200
  • Message-id: <c68545980805111127g28f418a9ge7862b6685bc8ed0@xxxxxxxxxxxxxx>
/me was stupid enough to send this somewhere else a few hours ago
without noticing... ;/

On 5/11/08, ¡ElCheVive! <elchevive68@xxxxxxxxx> wrote:
Hi all!

A have a question about the capitalization used in menus, etc. Is
there any restriction for us, translators, to use our own standard?
(eg. without capitalize the first letter - "Save As" -> "Save
as"(translated of course)).

I'm asking because I didn't found any recomendation for translators in
the openSUSE Style Guide and because we at Brazil are starting a
discution wich involve the translators of the major distros/programs
(KDE, GNOME, XFCE, openSUSE, Fedora, LDP, etc) about this theme.

I do not think that this is an openSUSE-specific issue. These things
tend to be pretty generic, e.g., as you are probably aware, English
uses the so-called "headline case", "headline-style capitalization" or
"title-style capitalization" for headlines and titles, which is pretty
complex ;-), but looks (at least approximately :-)) like this:

Leopard Broke Out of FreeBSD Jail, Escaped from Apple Zoo and Killed
Several Penguins Along the Way

This capitalization was adopted for menu items a long time ago by
Apple, MS, &co. and GNU/Linux software (graphical, with menus) just
sticks to the rules that have been here before.

You can find some of the most important rules here (for example): - pretty
complex, is it not? I hope I got it correct. ;-) Yet as the
orthography rules for the Earth's languages vary almost as much as
their grammars and vocabularies do, this way of writing headlines and
titles is of little consequence to other languages than English.

On top of that, while the first English-speaking-and-writing UI
designers decided to use the headline style of their mother tongue for
menu items, there is no reason for me to believe that this is a
general case for all languages. Other languages may very well be using
different rules for menu items than they have developed for headlines
in writing, the latter issue being centuries older.

For example, in Czech, we *are* writing menu items in a way that could
be considered a "headline-style capitalization", but as this is a rule
as simple as "Write the first letter of the first word in uppercase
and leave the rest as it is, taking capital letters for proper names
(and other important elements that you never write in lowercase) into
consideration, of course", it is not too surprising that we have
decided on using this for menu items, as we are already using it
throughout the whole language: We write sentences with the first
letter in uppercase and end them with a full stop, and we write titles
the same way, only with the full stop missing. So it is not strictly a
rule for headlines.

I suggest you take a look at other Brazilian software, especially at
software from Apple and Microsoft, as the local branches of these
companies tend to closely cooperate with language-responsible
institutions of the respective countries. This is the case at least in
Czech Republic, where Microsoft, for example, has authored the Czech
localization style guide in close and lenghty cooperation with the
particular Czech institution that is considered responsible for
keeping our language in shape. The result is probably one of the least
bug-ridden contributions of Microsoft to our environment :-), as the
language guide turns out to be very well accepted among the language

You might also be able to find similar documents for Brazilian
Portuguese - but I cannot help you with that, your language is hardly
my area of expertise. Here, you are one of the few experts on BP, but
I wish you good luck. :-) Hope this helps.

Best Regards,

Jakub Hegenbart
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