Survey for Ubiquity localization

How can we localize this set of commands in Italian (see Mitcho’s post)?

1. search HELLO
2. search HELLO with google
3. translate HELLO from English to French
4. lookup the weather for PLACE
5. shop for SHOES with Amazon
6. email HELLO to Bill
7. email HELLO to ADDRESS
8. map PLACE
9. find HELLO
10. tab to HELLO or switch to HELLO tab

1. cerca HELLO

Italian uses the same order of English, so this one is easy.

2. cerca HELLO su google

First minor problem (see also this comment): do you search “on” Google, “with” Google or “in” Google? The form “cerca su” (“search on”) is probably the most used nowadays. Note that the object is placed between the verb (cerca) and the preposition (su).

3. traduci HELLO da inglese a francese

Removing definite articles maybe gives a little less natural feeling (“da inglese a francese” instead of “dall’inglese al francese”), but it still sounds good.

4. controlla meteo di PLACE
5. compra SHOES su Amazon

Same order and structure of English, just need to find the most appropriate verbs (for example, you “check” the weather or “display” weather conditions?).

6. email HELLO to Bill
7. email HELLO to ADDRESS

These two commands are quite problematic to localize:

  • we don’t have a single Italian verb for “to email”
  • you can “send (or write) an email to someone”, the tricky part is to include the object (HELLO)

If “HELLO” is an object (like a map, a selection or a link), the structure “send this by email to someone” is ok:

invia HELLO per e-mail a Bill/ADDRESS

What if HELLO is a text, like “email «good luck» to Bill”? In this case the proposed structure sounds weird, but honestly I can’t find a better structure (any suggestion out there?).

6. invia HELLO per e-mail a Bill
7. invia HELLO per e-mail a ADDRESS

8. cerca mappa di PLACE

Since we don’t have a single verb equivalent to “to map”, we can use something like “search map of”.

9. trova HELLO

Same order of English.

10. passa alla scheda HELLO

“Tab to HELLO” is almost impossible to translate, while “switch to HELLO tab” has a different order in Italian (equivalent to “switch to tab HELLO”).

This is the final result, hopefully with chances of improvement on 6 and 7

1. cerca HELLO
2. cerca HELLO su google
3. traduci HELLO da inglese a francese
4. controlla meteo di PLACE
5. compra SHOES su Amazon
6. invia HELLO per e-mail a Bill
7. invia HELLO per e-mail a ADDRESS
8. cerca mappa di PLACE
9. trova HELLO
10. passa alla scheda HELLO

1. search this with google
2. translate this to French
3. bookmark this tab

The only problem in these 3 commands is the lack of a single verb for “bookmark”, which can be changed to “add to bookmarks”. The correct form is “aggiungi questo ai segnalibri” (“add this to bookmarks”).

1. cerca questo con google
2. traduci questo in francese
3. aggiungi questo ai segnalibri

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Thinking Ubiquity in Italian

Since I read this post about “Thinking Ubiquity in Portoguese” and Mitcho’s blog, I started asking to myself: what are the challenges of localizing Ubiquity in Italian?

Quoting from the same post (bolds are mine)

Since Ubiquity provides a natural language interface between the user and the computer, the way that the user interacts with the commands should feel natural at his language, conforming (although not strictly necessary) with the language’s grammar, and specially conforming with how the user thinks and expects to give commands in his own language.

Consider the verbs in this Jono’s post.

23 are verbs: bookmark, calculate, close, convert, define, delete, email, exit, help, hilight, map, print, redo, refresh, restart, save, search, tag, translate, undelete, underline, undo, zoom

Since you’re giving a direct order to the browser, verbs should be in imperative form (at least, in my mind there’s no doubt about this). For example: underline should be sottolinea (imperative form of sottolineare).

First problem: for some of those verbs there’s no Italian equivalent. Take for example bookmark or email: we don’t have a single verb to define this kind of actions, in most cases we use the form verb+noun (“add bookmark”->”aggiungi segnalibro”, “write email”->”scrivi email”).
Some English verbs are adapted to Italian using the first conjugation (“to schedule”->”schedulare”), but these forms are simply awful ;-)

Second problem: some verbs are not easy to understand out of their typical context. Think about undo and redo: as menu items these two actions are universally translated as annulla and ripeti,  but to be really “natural” we should at least add a noun (“Undo action”->”Annulla azione”, “Redo action”->”Ripeti azione”).

The first problem (the biggest one) could be solved using overlord verbs (see this proposal): “google”->”search google”->”cerca in google”.

What are the possible shortcomings of this approach? The first I can think of: what if the English overlord verb is not suitable for another language? For example, the verb “make” is quite difficult to translate (too generic): “to make” could be “fare”, but “fare grassetto” (“make bold”) doesn’t make any sense, people would use more specific verbs:

  • make bold ->  trasforma in grassetto (sounds like “change to bold”)
  • make page editable -> rendi pagina modificabile

Two different localized verbs for a single overlord English verb. Is the Ubiquity’s parser able to manage this situation?

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