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12.3 Discussions

NOTE: This documentation section is outdated and needs to be revised.

Facing this internationalization effort, a few users expressed their concerns. Some of these doubts are presented and discussed, here.

  • Smaller groups

    Some languages are not spoken by a very large number of people, so people speaking them sometimes consider that there may not be all that much demand such versions of free software packages. Moreover, many people being into computers, in some countries, generally seem to prefer English versions of their software.

    On the other end, people might enjoy their own language a lot, and be very motivated at providing to themselves the pleasure of having their beloved free software speaking their mother tongue. They do themselves a personal favor, and do not pay that much attention to the number of people benefiting of their work.

  • Misinterpretation

    Other users are shy to push forward their own language, seeing in this some kind of misplaced propaganda. Someone thought there must be some users of the language over the networks pestering other people with it.

    But any spoken language is worth localization, because there are people behind the language for whom the language is important and dear to their hearts.

  • Odd translations

    The biggest problem is to find the right translations so that everybody can understand the messages. Translations are usually a little odd. Some people get used to English, to the extent they may find translations into their own language “rather pushy, obnoxious and sometimes even hilarious.” As a French speaking man, I have the experience of those instruction manuals for goods, so poorly translated in French in Korea or Taiwan…

    The fact is that we sometimes have to create a kind of national computer culture, and this is not easy without the collaboration of many people liking their mother tongue. This is why translations are better achieved by people knowing and loving their own language, and ready to work together at improving the results they obtain.

  • Dependencies over the GPL or LGPL

    Some people wonder if using GNU gettext necessarily brings their package under the protective wing of the GNU General Public License or the GNU Lesser General Public License, when they do not want to make their program free, or want other kinds of freedom. The simplest answer is “normally not”.

    The gettext-runtime part of GNU gettext, i.e. the contents of libintl, is covered by the GNU Lesser General Public License. The gettext-tools part of GNU gettext, i.e. the rest of the GNU gettext package, is covered by the GNU General Public License.

    The mere marking of localizable strings in a package, or conditional inclusion of a few lines for initialization, is not really including GPL’ed or LGPL’ed code. However, since the localization routines in libintl are under the LGPL, the LGPL needs to be considered. It gives the right to distribute the complete unmodified source of libintl even with non-free programs. It also gives the right to use libintl as a shared library, even for non-free programs. But it gives the right to use libintl as a static library or to incorporate libintl into another library only to free software.

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