How to create language-specific style guidelines and glossaries
Most language communities on the Twitter Translation Center have gone through the process of devising style guidelines that are specific to their respective languages - guidelines that are to be used, in addition to Twitter’s general style guidelines, to address the more particular linguistic issues present in each distinct locale. We hope that the following pointers will aid your community, as you work together to establish your language’s own foundational guidelines.
Who decides the guidelines for each language?
Twitter Translation is the work of a large community of volunteers. We want all language-specific guidelines and glossary terms to come from the community. More often than not, moderators play a key role in this process. Moderators facilitate discussions among members of the community, which eventually lead to community-wide agreements on translation standards. Though Twitter staff may participate in these discussions and from time to time provide some input, we want the community to agree and decide on language-specific issues independently.
What kind of guidelines should we set?
This depends on your language and the specific linguistic issues of your locale. However, most languages have set guidelines around a few common areas:
- Get your community to build the basic glossary together. You can see the current glossary for your language at http://translate.twttr.com/glossary. Once you get an agreement on the common words all translators translating in your language will use, we can upload your glossary to the Translation Center.
- Try not to use regional or local slang. Keep your language neutral, as some of our language communities go beyond country and regional lines.
- With your word choice, remember to address a wide audience. Our user base ranges from experts to beginners - people of all ages, genders, cultures, customs, skills, and locations.
- Decide the use of "you,” or how the user will be addressed in your language. In many languages we have different levels of formality to address a person. Your community may want to have this in mind.
- The level of formality in writing is another interesting discussion your group may want to have. Try to use examples to illustrate what will be used.
- There may be other local companies, social networks or Internet services that are using some of the words you will use. Do you want to use the same words, or do you think your group should use their own words? What is the right balance?
- What are the rules of punctuation and capitalization in your language? Remind your community about what standard you will use.
- What about using words in English? Is there a specific need to do this? Will new Twitter users understand these words?
- Indicate when and where the spacing of words is appropriate (if applicable to your language). Indicate whether users should avoid single-byte symbols, ellipsis, etc. Make sure you provide examples to illustrate these cases.
- Decide if you will use Arabic numerals (1, 2, 3, etc.) or numbers in your language (if applicable). Most of our languages are currently using Arabic numerals.
- Some languages have excellent reference materials such as glossary databases and dictionaries. If you know any, provide links to these resources.
What tools can we use to come up with the guidelines collaboratively?
Twitter suggests the following tools to help you come up with a set of guidelines:
- Twitter accounts: If there is a community account for your language, you can use it to discuss suggestions about how to translate a specific word or use a specific rule. Use a #hashtag to tag your responses.
- Language forums: Translators in your language are probably utilizing our Translator Center language forums to exchange views on language-specific issues. Make sure to discuss distinct rules in distinct forum threads, and definitely feel free to invite others to join in in the discussion.
- Google Docs: Open a public Google Doc to draft and comment on a set of guidelines. Allow people to write their thoughts, support their ideas with examples, and express their concerns.
- Polls: Online polls can help you decide between a series of options for a particular term or guideline. Use a public poll so many people can vote, even if they are not translators.
- IRC channel: Our translators and moderators usually connect to #Twitteri18n, a channel on irc.freenode.org. We encourage you to join and to create a separate channel to discuss language specific issues if you think this can help you make a decision.
Seasoned translators and moderators, do you have any other insights on the process?