The second hardest thing about translations is trusting the translator

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I sometimes joke that I barely speak English, so when someone said he translated my entire ebook about Multisite into French, I was delighted and scared. While I do kind of understand French, I’m not qualified to translate it, so having someone else do it would be a fantastic offering. But since I can’t translate it, I have no way of knowing how to gauge if they understood my meaning, which is hard enough to figure out in English.

After a while, I decided to tell him that I’d like to see them, but I wasn’t sure if I’d want to put them up online to sell or give away. Of course he was welcome to give them away all he wanted!

The problem isn’t that I trust him, or not, but that I don’t have a failsafe. With coding, I have coworkers who can spot check me. With blog posts I could use an editor, and it’s the same with books. If this was a contracted book, I’d be able to let my publisher find someone we all agree fits the bill. When you’re on your own, it’s a lot harder.

The same goes with my plugins. I don’t actually package anything in my plugins by way of translations. The closest I have is my Varnish Plugin, which has a folder on github for people to store translations. Since they don’t have to be included in core, it’s easy enough for me to say “Use at your own risk.”

With code, there’s a lot more you have to do in order to make your code translatable though. With my books, I just write. With my code, I have to remember to escape properly. Which I nearly never get correct the first time out. With code, you have to remember from the start to write your words in a way that can be translated, and you have to worry every time you change things that it will be broken for everyone on the next update.

It’s chaining, really, to realize I can’t just ‘write’ in my plugin like I do on my blog.

So what’s the question and the answer? Should you translate your work? Maybe. You should always make it translatable, but whether or not you should manage the translations is a really strange question without a perfect answer. Unless you’re fluent in two languages.

I keep the following links bookmarked, just to keep me on track when I start editing any plugin, and I try to work backwards to fix all my old ones, but it’s really slippery.