Translation: KDE op Platt!

Thomas Diehl has created a new language project branch for a Plattdüütsch (Low Saxon) translation of KDE (ISO code: nds). The language is spoken in Northern Germany, the Netherlands and even in parts of the Mennonite Community in the United States and Paraguay. There are several millions of Plattdüütsch speakers, but Low Saxon -- stuck in the middle of German, English (Anglo-Saxons!) and Dutch -- is on the decline in favour of official languages such as German or Dutch.

Started as a comprehensive Linux translation project by Jürgen Lueters quite a while ago, it was decided that KDE would be translated first. This is due to the popularity of KDE, although Gnome will follow later. The platt-internalization project has Sven Hertzberg of Gnome-Germany on board. Gnome-de also hosts the current mailing list of the project.

Up to now 94% of strings in the basic files are translated, but the project will have to start sustainable translation with more contributors. Contributions, reviews and user testing is very much appreciated to make the dream of KDE op platt real. Project coordinator Heiko Evermann counts on you.

At the Gnu/Linux Informationstage event (6/7 March) in Wilhelmshaven, Germany a project member, Thomas Templin of
will organize the first Friesathlon. Friesathlon refers to Hackathlons and the Frisian people. A Friesathlon, that means to him a Low Saxon translation contest and introduction to interested users from the Plattdüütsch Community. His objective is to show them how to use KDE translation tools and showcast KDE-op-platt. His secret conspiracy plan is to get more people involved.
Thomas Templin still needs some volunteer staff workers for the event. Probably it will be possible to create a webstream-connection to a parallel Chemnitz Linuxshow in Saxony, so Saxons will also get a grip of Low Saxon, a language slightly more popular than German in Saxonian dialect. :-)

There is no unified Plattdüütsch dialect, so the project will have to develop its own dialect. The project chose to be close to the dialect used in public media. Despite of public discrimination (sometimes regarded as a rural German dialect) there is little Low Saxon content in public radio broadcasting. However it will depend on the translators to create a common ground. Professional linguistic advice is also welcome. The project is assisted by the well-known linguistic Institut für Niederdeutsche Sprache, Bremen.

The translation project also creating a database of computer words. There is no Plattdüütsch computer vocabulary yet despite words like
Rekner - Computer,
Klapprekner - Laptop, Notebook.
The project hopes to add some more unique expressions, enrich and modernize the language. Some guys of the project even want to learn Low Saxon by translation efforts. A great experience. Translation work is a good approach to dig deeper into the phenomenon of language diversity and semantic richness.

Plattdüütsch (Low Saxon) is a regional language recognized by the European Regional and Minority Language Charter. It is applied in some federal states in Germany, so that a government agency is obliged to reply to citizens in Low Saxon. As the application of the European charter is still weak in Germany a KDE translated to Plattdüütsch may increase the adoption of Linux/KDE in administration. The BMI (German federal ministry of interior), very much in favor of Linux, has to write year reports about the applications of the Charter, so maybe we could get funding from this government agency.

Although speakers of Low Saxon are able to communicate in at least one other language such as German, Dutch, Dansk, English it is a competitive advantage to have a desktop environment available in your native language. Many young people don't speak the language anymore, but it easy to learn, and easy to understand, so it makes you feel at home. We don't underestimate the geek-factor of KDE-op-platt (KDE in Low Saxon). Especially for the Frisian people it can assist them to keep their identity despite carrying a Dutch or German passport. Unlike other people groups in Europe Frisians are non-militant despite continuous public language discrimination.

Conservative approaches of the past are commonly rejected by the project, because they only enforced the colonialization of our culture. We don't want "back to the roots", we want a full-featured and modern desktop. And living in coastal areas for centuries there is even much more experience with shells :-). According to the old Frisian slogan "Lever dod as slaav"(Better dead than slave) we need a free operating environment that enables us to exercise and hack our culture. This is the benefit of an Open Source licensed desktop environment in comparison with closed source.


From the team at http://translate.org.za we wish you luck. It's lots of hard work but very rewarding. I love the translatethon idea, we hope to be doing something similar in South Africa this year - I hope you'll give us all your info on the logistics of making it happen.

If you want to translate other things like Mozilla and OpenOffice using PO format then have a look at http://translate.sf.net for our tools.

By Dwayne at Mon, 2004/02/02 - 6:00am