[Top] [All Lists]

Translations of standards (was: RE: ASCII art)

2005-11-21 11:54:58
--On Monday, 21 November, 2005 10:11 -0800 Thomas Gal
<tom(_at_)triagewireless(_dot_)com> wrote:

I understand this. But it restricts RFC to the sole English 
(ASCII) language.
Translating RFC as an authoritative text is therefore
impossible. jfc

      Well there's a reason pilots and sailors and other people
who's business is truly international use english. We can't
legitamately expect technical issues to be drafted in every
language (just like we can't expect pilots to all know 5
languages) either. While I believe in the cultural and
intellectual value of different languages in exposing
different viewpoints and ways of thinking I don't believe
there's anything technically oriented that *can't* be
expressed in english as well as any other language. It just so
do I have the personal motivation to translate a technical
document to hungarian or spanish though I could, because,
fluent or not, that's still REALLY hard and depending in any
way on being technically colloquial in many languages, and
doing a good job at it.
      That's not to say that anyone won't welcome translations of
important documents, but perhaps that's a much better job for
the UN then the IETF.

Tom, let me take this a step further.  Almost every other
international standards body, ISO and ITU included, end up with
an authoritative version in one language for technical standards
and then with translations that are considered less
authoritative.  I.e., if the translation disagrees with the
original authoritative version, the latter controls -- there is
no battle among translations as to which version is the most
accurate.  Even then, the best of the translations are validated
by the well-known, but difficult, time-consuming, and expensive,
process of having independent parties prepare back translations
to the original language, followed by a careful technical
comparison of the two.   For the most technical standards,
translation is typically waived because it is generally assumed
that, if one is going to get conformance and interoperability
--and be sure one knows what that means-- then there had best be
only one version, rather than standardized interpretations of it.

And the belief that any of this really has anything to do with
whether the base document is expressed in ASCII or not, or
whether its figures use ASCII artwork or images in some
conventional or standard form, is, to be polite, a stretch:
remember that ASCII is inadequate to express all of English
accurately.  To use your example because it is handy, while more
characters than those in ASCII are needed to properly write
Spanish or Hungarian (as with English), one cannot write any of
the three, or French, without those characters.  Things would
get much more interesting with Chinese, Japanese, or Arabic,
but, again, the form in which figures are expressed is the least
of the issues.


Ietf mailing list

<Prev in Thread] Current Thread [Next in Thread>