Project to Create Free Software in Quechua
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Make AbiWord bilingual
and adapt it to Quechua
Aside for these things, speakers of oral languages like Quechua need to see their software in a bilingual form. The majority of Quechua speakers are only trained to read and write in Spanish. Because they are not used to reading their native language, they often need to see the translation in Spanish in order to learn how to read in Quechua. Furthermore, we have to extend the meaning of many Quechua words when moving to the context of the computer. A bilingual version will help users to learn the new meaning of these Quechua words when they can look at the translation in Spanish. For instance, if we use the word "ñit'iy" (press, crush) for "print", we need the translation in order to teach the new meaning of the word.
We also need AbiWord in a bilingual form because many cyber-cafe owners and network administrators don't speak Quechua and don't want to install software that they can't read. They also can't offer support to Quechua speakers using the software if they can't understand the interface. This is an important consideration because the majority of the people in the Andes don't own their own personal computer and have to use computers in cyber-cafes.
There are various ways to make
AbiWord bilingual. We can insert the Spanish translation
next to the Quechua in every menu, dialog box, and button. We
have created a version of AbiWord like this (with the --bilingual
option of instrans.php),
people have commented that the menus are very cumbersome and too large
in their bilingual form and many bilingual buttons would be too large
to fit in their dialog boxes.
Another option is to put the translation of each menu item and every object in the status bar. If users pass their mouse over a menu or an object in AbiWord, they can look below to see the translation in the status bar. In order to do this, we would have to define hundreds new status bar messages in the source code of AbiWord and recompile the program. Currently AbiWord doesn't have status bar messages defined for menu items that are headers for submenus. In addition none of the objects in dialog boxes have status bar messages defined.
Another option is to make tooltips with the Spanish translation for each item or object in AbiWord. If users pause over a phrase in Quechua, the translation would appear in Spanish to the side of the mouse pointer. In order to do this, we would have to define hundreds of tooltips in AbiWord and recompile the program.
None of the options are perfect. Many users have problems moving their focus below to read the translation in the status bar and then returning above to continue working. Sometimes the mouse moves a little when their eyes are focuses in another spot and this can cause problems in menus. The option to put translations in tooltips allows the user to not loose their focal point, but tooltips can be very tedious as well. Users have to spend a lot of time waiting for the appearance of the tooltip. Often the tooltip obscures other things on the screen that the user wants to access and distracts the user. Many users do not like tooltips. We need an option to turn off tooltips when they aren't necessary, but also easily turn them on. For to this, we would have to create a hotkey (key combination) to toggle tooltips. This won't be easy to create, because it has to function in every window in AbiWord. We would probably have to change the source code for every dialog box in AbiWord to implement it.
It would be better to implement both the translations in the status bar and the tooltips and let the user decide which to use. If users have turned off the option to see tooltips in the Preferences box, they can still see the translations in the status bar if necessary. Having both options will acomodate different types of users better.
Nobody has ever made a bilingual word processor before. It will be a big challange to make a bilingual version of AbiWord, but our work can be used by many other indigenous and oral languages like Aymara and Mapuche. In order to make these changes in AbiWord, we are looking for volunteers who know C++ and GTK+.
Last Updated: Tue, 16 Aug 2011