Friday, December 31, 2010

A Multilingual Blog

When I created the Hobsons Bay Community Discussion Forum, I received a request from a reader who has vision difficulty to change the text to a darker colour and he said that Vision Australia will be able to advise me on an assessment of readability. Fortunately, the forum template allows the flexibility of changing the text colour so it does not take much of an effort to accede to his request.

When I presented the Altona Blog to the Altona City Rotary Club recently, a member of the audience had a suggestion that overwhelmed me. He said that Altona is a multicultural community so I should consider having the Blog in different languages for the benefit of the various ethnic groups. I replied that I only know English and Chinese and neither do I have the resources nor the expertise to do the translation. He suggested that I should seek assistance from the Hobsons Bay City Council as the council does have a team of linguistic experts. Instead of merely ignoring this suggestion, I did approach the Council. As most of you would have guessed the outcome, this suggestion did not work out.

But I am a person who does not easily give up. So I put on my thinking cap and recalled that Google does provide a translation service. Now, I have embedded this Google Translate gadget on the right side of the Blog and this service is able to provide translation from English to 33 other languages. I tried to translate the Blog to Chinese but the outcome is hilarious and I have a good laugh at the various absurd and comical translations. To be fair enough, it is very difficult to translate between English and Chinese as both languages have very different structure and syntax. English has a phonetic-based writing system while Chinese has a meaning or symbol-based writing system. My speculation is that it is easier to translate from one European language to another as they share common alphabets. Try this translation service and post comments whether the outcome is acceptable or not. Regardless of its efficacy, this is the best that I can provide to cater to audience not that literate with English.

I have also embedded below a Chinese version of Altona Map, with all the street names in Chinese. I do not know whether your computer must have East Asian fonts installed in order to view these chinese characters.


查看大图

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