Mike Ramm has been kind enough to translate a few of my blog posts into Bulgarian and comment on them. Thanks, Mike!
- Hard-coding and soft-coding: English version here
- The Dilemma of the Capable: English version here
- When Murphy Strikes: English version here
Many of us, in our Anglo-centric view of the world, do not pay attention to other languages and cultures. But the principles of business management and software development are not restricted to people living in English-speaking countries. We must make the literature and knowledge accessible to all. People like Mike perform an important function here.
More importantly, there is much knowledge that we do not have, because we are not aware of the knowledge base in other cultures. Very few important works created in other countries get translated, if at all. As I have mentioned a few times before, the Communist regimes of Eastern Europe invested heavily in science and technology, but much of this knowledge is hidden in book shelves and the minds of students and professors.
If you look at the invention of programming languages, Ruby was invented in Japan, Python in the Netherlands, PHP in Greenland, and Pascal in Switzerland, none of which are English-speaking countries. There is much innovation and invention going on across the globe, but we are only partially aware of such happenings.
I believe that a fundamental next step of evolution of the Web should be in the direction of making all information accessible in each person’s language. Search engines have a responsibility here of understanding queries written in one language and being able to retrieve related information in all languages. I know Google does fetch results from multiple languages, but I think it works only with proper nouns like Rio de Janeiro, Estonia, Claude, etc., not with common words.
Also when browsers display content in another language, they should be able to translate that automatically into the user’s language of choice. Although this sounds hard, natural language parsers and translators are getting more intelligent and able to convey the right meaning. I have been using a plug-in for the Altavista Babel Fish translator (seen on the right), but in future, browsers may already come integrated with that functionality, instead of having separate buttons for translations.
As I write this, I did a search and found FoxLingo, a Firefox plug-in that seems to do a lot of this work.