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11 Notes on the Free Translation Project
4Free software is going international!  The Free Translation Project is
5a way to get maintainers of free software, translators, and users all
6together, so that free software will gradually become able to speak many
7languages.  A few packages already provide translations for their
10   If you found this `ABOUT-NLS' file inside a distribution, you may
11assume that the distributed package does use GNU `gettext' internally,
12itself available at your nearest GNU archive site.  But you do _not_
13need to install GNU `gettext' prior to configuring, installing or using
14this package with messages translated.
16   Installers will find here some useful hints.  These notes also
17explain how users should proceed for getting the programs to use the
18available translations.  They tell how people wanting to contribute and
19work on translations can contact the appropriate team.
21   When reporting bugs in the `intl/' directory or bugs which may be
22related to internationalization, you should tell about the version of
23`gettext' which is used.  The information can be found in the
24`intl/VERSION' file, in internationalized packages.
261.1 Quick configuration advice
29If you want to exploit the full power of internationalization, you
30should configure it using
32     ./configure --with-included-gettext
34to force usage of internationalizing routines provided within this
35package, despite the existence of internationalizing capabilities in the
36operating system where this package is being installed.  So far, only
37the `gettext' implementation in the GNU C library version 2 provides as
38many features (such as locale alias, message inheritance, automatic
39charset conversion or plural form handling) as the implementation here.
40It is also not possible to offer this additional functionality on top
41of a `catgets' implementation.  Future versions of GNU `gettext' will
42very likely convey even more functionality.  So it might be a good idea
43to change to GNU `gettext' as soon as possible.
45   So you need _not_ provide this option if you are using GNU libc 2 or
46you have installed a recent copy of the GNU gettext package with the
47included `libintl'.
491.2 INSTALL Matters
52Some packages are "localizable" when properly installed; the programs
53they contain can be made to speak your own native language.  Most such
54packages use GNU `gettext'.  Other packages have their own ways to
55internationalization, predating GNU `gettext'.
57   By default, this package will be installed to allow translation of
58messages.  It will automatically detect whether the system already
59provides the GNU `gettext' functions.  If not, the included GNU
60`gettext' library will be used.  This library is wholly contained
61within this package, usually in the `intl/' subdirectory, so prior
62installation of the GNU `gettext' package is _not_ required.
63Installers may use special options at configuration time for changing
64the default behaviour.  The commands:
66     ./configure --with-included-gettext
67     ./configure --disable-nls
69will, respectively, bypass any pre-existing `gettext' to use the
70internationalizing routines provided within this package, or else,
71_totally_ disable translation of messages.
73   When you already have GNU `gettext' installed on your system and run
74configure without an option for your new package, `configure' will
75probably detect the previously built and installed `libintl.a' file and
76will decide to use this.  This might not be desirable.  You should use
77the more recent version of the GNU `gettext' library.  I.e. if the file
78`intl/VERSION' shows that the library which comes with this package is
79more recent, you should use
81     ./configure --with-included-gettext
83to prevent auto-detection.
85   The configuration process will not test for the `catgets' function
86and therefore it will not be used.  The reason is that even an
87emulation of `gettext' on top of `catgets' could not provide all the
88extensions of the GNU `gettext' library.
90   Internationalized packages usually have many `po/LL.po' files, where
91LL gives an ISO 639 two-letter code identifying the language.  Unless
92translations have been forbidden at `configure' time by using the
93`--disable-nls' switch, all available translations are installed
94together with the package.  However, the environment variable `LINGUAS'
95may be set, prior to configuration, to limit the installed set.
96`LINGUAS' should then contain a space separated list of two-letter
97codes, stating which languages are allowed.
991.3 Using This Package
102As a user, if your language has been installed for this package, you
103only have to set the `LANG' environment variable to the appropriate
104`LL_CC' combination.  Here `LL' is an ISO 639 two-letter language code,
105and `CC' is an ISO 3166 two-letter country code.  For example, let's
106suppose that you speak German and live in Germany.  At the shell
107prompt, merely execute `setenv LANG de_DE' (in `csh'),
108`export LANG; LANG=de_DE' (in `sh') or `export LANG=de_DE' (in `bash').
109This can be done from your `.login' or `.profile' file, once and for
112   You might think that the country code specification is redundant.
113But in fact, some languages have dialects in different countries.  For
114example, `de_AT' is used for Austria, and `pt_BR' for Brazil.  The
115country code serves to distinguish the dialects.
117   The locale naming convention of `LL_CC', with `LL' denoting the
118language and `CC' denoting the country, is the one use on systems based
119on GNU libc.  On other systems, some variations of this scheme are
120used, such as `LL' or `LL_CC.ENCODING'.  You can get the list of
121locales supported by your system for your language by running the
122command `locale -a | grep '^LL''.
124   Not all programs have translations for all languages.  By default, an
125English message is shown in place of a nonexistent translation.  If you
126understand other languages, you can set up a priority list of languages.
127This is done through a different environment variable, called
128`LANGUAGE'.  GNU `gettext' gives preference to `LANGUAGE' over `LANG'
129for the purpose of message handling, but you still need to have `LANG'
130set to the primary language; this is required by other parts of the
131system libraries.  For example, some Swedish users who would rather
132read translations in German than English for when Swedish is not
133available, set `LANGUAGE' to `sv:de' while leaving `LANG' to `sv_SE'.
135   Special advice for Norwegian users: The language code for Norwegian
136bokma*l changed from `no' to `nb' recently (in 2003).  During the
137transition period, while some message catalogs for this language are
138installed under `nb' and some older ones under `no', it's recommended
139for Norwegian users to set `LANGUAGE' to `nb:no' so that both newer and
140older translations are used.
142   In the `LANGUAGE' environment variable, but not in the `LANG'
143environment variable, `LL_CC' combinations can be abbreviated as `LL'
144to denote the language's main dialect.  For example, `de' is equivalent
145to `de_DE' (German as spoken in Germany), and `pt' to `pt_PT'
146(Portuguese as spoken in Portugal) in this context.
1481.4 Translating Teams
151For the Free Translation Project to be a success, we need interested
152people who like their own language and write it well, and who are also
153able to synergize with other translators speaking the same language.
154Each translation team has its own mailing list.  The up-to-date list of
155teams can be found at the Free Translation Project's homepage,
156`', in the "National teams"
159   If you'd like to volunteer to _work_ at translating messages, you
160should become a member of the translating team for your own language.
161The subscribing address is _not_ the same as the list itself, it has
162`-request' appended.  For example, speakers of Swedish can send a
163message to `', having this message body:
165     subscribe
167   Keep in mind that team members are expected to participate
168_actively_ in translations, or at solving translational difficulties,
169rather than merely lurking around.  If your team does not exist yet and
170you want to start one, or if you are unsure about what to do or how to
171get started, please write to `' to reach the
172coordinator for all translator teams.
174   The English team is special.  It works at improving and uniformizing
175the terminology in use.  Proven linguistic skills are praised more than
176programming skills, here.
1781.5 Available Packages
181Languages are not equally supported in all packages.  The following
182matrix shows the current state of internationalization, as of October
1832006.  The matrix shows, in regard of each package, for which languages
184PO files have been submitted to translation coordination, with a
185translation percentage of at least 50%.
187# Matrix here is removed!
189   Some counters in the preceding matrix are higher than the number of
190visible blocks let us expect.  This is because a few extra PO files are
191used for implementing regional variants of languages, or language
194   For a PO file in the matrix above to be effective, the package to
195which it applies should also have been internationalized and
196distributed as such by its maintainer.  There might be an observable
197lag between the mere existence a PO file and its wide availability in a
200   If October 2006 seems to be old, you may fetch a more recent copy of
201this `ABOUT-NLS' file on most GNU archive sites.  The most up-to-date
202matrix with full percentage details can be found at
2051.6 Using `gettext' in new packages
208If you are writing a freely available program and want to
209internationalize it you are welcome to use GNU `gettext' in your
210package.  Of course you have to respect the GNU Library General Public
211License which covers the use of the GNU `gettext' library.  This means
212in particular that even non-free programs can use `libintl' as a shared
213library, whereas only free software can use `libintl' as a static
214library or use modified versions of `libintl'.
216   Once the sources are changed appropriately and the setup can handle
217the use of `gettext' the only thing missing are the translations.  The
218Free Translation Project is also available for packages which are not
219developed inside the GNU project.  Therefore the information given above
220applies also for every other Free Software Project.  Contact
221`' to make the `.pot' files available to
222the translation teams.
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