I get more email from readers about my
article than about anything else on my web site. I'm a little surprised
by this (I always thought people would like the
better), but I'm happy to hear from people who found the article
useful. (Aside: many of the notes say "Thanks, this was helpful"; some
also ask a question or two. A few are incomprehensible requests for
assistance, but I can remember only one of those ever turning unpleasant.)
A few people have contacted me to ask for permission to translate the
article—into Belarusian, Bulgarian, Brazilian Portuguese, and Ukrainian
so far. I know none of these languages, but the requests were polite and
did not set off any mental alarms, so I gave permission and added links
to the resulting translations.
Last year, a Bulgarian reader wrote to (say thanks for the howto and)
tell me that the quality of the Bulgarian translation was terrible. He
thought it was probably done mechanically (e.g. using Google Translate),
and pointed out that the site where the translation was hosted also had
many other dubious translations of technical articles. I took the link
down (though it may have been too late to reverse whatever SEO benefit
they had enjoyed in the meantime).
Last week, I received a request for permission to translate the article
into Ukrainian. It just so happens that I can read the Cyrillic alphabet
quite fluently (but I know next to no Russian), so I compared the output
from translate.google.com and the translated version I was requested to
link to. Surprise! It was almost identical. I wanted to do the same with
the Belarusian translation, but the link was dead and redirected to the
webhostingrating.net index page.
On the other hand, the
Brazilian Portuguese translation
by Thiago Belem appears to be genuine. Translating it back to English
with Google Translate reveals certain changes in the article, which are
certainly not the result of mechanical translation. So it seems unfair
to reject all such offers, and I would certainly like to acknowledge
the work put in by people doing genuine translations.
This leaves me with many questions:
Is Google Translate just really good at
Ukrainian? (see update below)
- Is the disappearance of the Belarusian translation a coincidence, or
was it a linkbait-and-switch? Is that typical?
- How do other people deal with this?
Comments are welcome, especially from technical authors who have had
their work widely translated.
Update (2013-02-05): Viacheslav Tykhanovskyi was kind enough
to read through the Ukrainian translation and confirm that it's