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Yvonne V. Richardson

REPORT: Translation and Time Zone Collaboration

The week's assignment will be to translate device manuals into the language of the team’s time zone.  There is a good chance that other teams are not in your time zone or do not speak your language, so you will not be able to rely much on people outside of your work group. Time zones are simulated with a delay; any email received cannot be answered until the next day.

Manuals are on the SharePoint site. Most of them will allow you to copy the text, but some do not have that option. Some manuals have graphics that could accompany the new text, which implies that the team must copy and paste the graphics from the original manual to a format that they can manipulate. Tools such as the Snipping Tool, or the keystroke combination Alt-Print, will copy what is displayed on the screen into the Clipboard. Software such as Paint or PowerPoint can be used to paint out the original English-language text.

Your team will also be given a language into which to translate the manual.  Language rules are basic subsets of actual human languages or cultural rationales.  However, the intent is also to have some fun. Consequently, your team determines what the words mean by how the manuals translate into the new language. Most words will translate because the word processor can find and replace words consistently throughout a document.  This will empower you to proofread after an automated translation to find words that didn’t quite translate into the new language.  For example, replacing the word “copy” does not find the word “copies”, which should be converted to the same new word.  If your team wants to invent a more complicated grammar, they can preserve the difference between “copy”, “copies” and “copied”, but that is beyond the scope of this exercise for the time that we have.

For the most part, the teams are working with verbs, nouns, prepositions, and word order. Some teams also have been provided “dictionaries” or “rosetta stones” to translate the words from the manuals into words from their new languages.   It is not known at this time how much of the original meaning will be preserved, but it is hoped that the translated manual will resemble the EFIGS manuals that currently accompany many computing devices (English, French, Italian, German, Spanish).

How you divide translation duties is up to the individual members of the team. The SharePoint Site allows you to post individual pages to your team site, and then you can combine them into one large document. There are also discussion groups that the entire class can use.