Forum .LRN Q&A: Swedish translation norms

Posted by Staffan Hansson on
I'm about to start translating into Swedish, and before I start messing about I'd appreciate if we Swedes could agree on some basic policies. I'd feel more confident if we did.

Some issues I've thought about:

  1. As opposed to English ditto, Swedish sentences, even when they make up headlines, are never Written Like This, With Capitalization of Every Word More Than x (3-4?) Letters Long, n'est-ce pas? Only the first word in a sentence and names should have initial capital letters.
  2. In a link like "edit this page" the word "edit" is an imperative and not an infinitive, so therefore it should be interpreted as "do edit" and not as "to edit". The Swedish translation is "editera" in both cases, but consider a word like "switch", for example; it becomes "byt" and "byta", respectively. "Byt" would be the correct form, the way I see it.
  3. Since such links are imperative it is costumary in Swedish, I think, not to refer to the user. So, even if "Change My Password" sounds fine in English, "Ändra mitt lösenord" sounds a bit confusing in Swedish - it sounds like if I click on the link the system will change my password for me. "Ändra lösenord" (or "Byt lösenord") is a better way of saying that if I follow the link I will be able to do what the link tells me. Should we de-personalize the phrases?
Those were the questions that immediately came to mind; there must be several others. Can we have this discussion before we rush off and "just translate"? We might not win the race but we would stand a chance of winning the beauty contest...
Posted by Håkan Ståby on
I think you have some good points there. Swedish is not such a personal language. So de-personalization would be the way to go.

I would, however, like to remark on the word "editera". In my opinion that is "Swenglish". Edit is best translated to "redigera". A good online swedish-english dictionary can be found here:

I also think that the separation of words, in Swedish called "särskrivning" should try to be avoided. And to make the translation of links more user friendly/recognisable, it is a good idea to look at how common functions are translated in the Windows family with relatives. (I think I have seen this suggestion in the forum thread discussing german translation.)

I am, by the way, new to all this and did my first installation of OpenACS yesterday. 😊 Although I have a few years experience of other collaboration software and document management systems. A few years ago I even translated a document management system client to Swedish.

Posted by Mohan Pakkurti on
hi Hakan! Welcome on board.

I did a few translations so far, but have restricted
myself to doing things like days, months and simple
words :)

nice to see the swedish contigent here.


Posted by Staffan Hansson on
Hej Håkan, you're absolutely right - "editera" is definitely "Swenglish". And "Swenglish" - such as separation of words and other types of unlawful and uncalled for Anglification - simply won't do. I'll use that online dictionary as a standard reference from now on. Oh, and turning to Windows for answers is a good idea (for once 😉.

How do we solve words like "email" (both the noun and the verb)? I personally dislike the dictionary's "e-post" and loathe "swenglifications" like "e-mejl", but that's just me. I use the purely English "email" in Swedish too, but I realize that it's difficult to turn it into a Swedish verb. If I had to choose between plague and cholera (as we say in Sweden), though, I'd go for "e-post". Maybe we should just follow the dictionary slavishly?

It's good to have a pro around.

Posted by Peter Marklund on
thanks for pushing swedish up the chart and for thinking about quality whilst doing so! I agree with all your three points above.


Posted by Håkan Ståby on
Hi again!
I would translate e-mail to "e-post"(e-posta). I totally agree with you on "mejl" and such wordings. Terrible! 😉 Personally I use the word e-mail in swedish as well.

It is rather difficult to translate new words like e-mail and web. I have a friend who says "väv" for web and "vävsida" for web page. I would however not go that far if I were to translate the word(s) web page. The alternatives are "webbsida", "nätsida" or "vävsida", to me none of them is the obvious "correct" answer. MS use the word "webbsida".

To use the dictionary helps to get up speed when translating and decreases the amount of errors. Though the context sometimes turns out wrong, it is a good way to start out.

If you need my contribution to the translation I am happy to help out.

I was thinking about de-personalization of words during the weekend and I think that a certain degree of personalization would be beneficial. (Of course the translation should not sound unnatural.) I find two reasons for this:
1. If the link says My it means that these are my settings or my space and nobody else's.
2. Since this is collaboration software it gets stronger with every user. If you can give the user a feeling of belonging to the online community by addressing him or her in words I think it would increase the will to use and be a part of the community.

What do you think?


Posted by Staffan Hansson on
Håkan, I think you're right. It was never my intention to dehumanize the dotLRN user experience - after all, I'm a professed humanist. Actually, it wasn't the personalization itself that bothered me, I eventually realized, but the inherent confusion of a link saying "Change My Password". It doesn't appear to be such a big issue after all, though; I haven't come across any other such links. So, I rest my case.

Supported by the dictionary, I've been using the terms "e-post" ("e-postadress", "e-postdomän", etc.) and "webb" ("webbsida", "webbläsare", etc.) and now I'm so used to them that I can no longer understand what I could possibly have against them before. And if they made it into a dictionary they can't be all that bad...

You're contribution is very welcome, Håkan. It has been so far, and it will be whenever it's offered. Thanks.