Dear Rubyists,

let's try to escape the 'use language foobarbaz' feedback loop and
let me suggest an idea how we (as a community) may be able to cope
with the 'strange language' problem. With 'strange language' I mean a
language that is only spoken by few people that are no native
speakers.

I am pretty sure that almost any Rubyist is capable of writing a
documentation in at least one language that uses a latin-based
alphabet and that is of Germanic or a Roman origin. That can be but
is not restricted to:

English
Esperanto
French
German and similar languages like Dutch, Afrikaans, etc. (+)
Italian
Latin (*)
Portugese
Romanian
Spanish

What makes them prefer their own language is that they fear to make
so may mistakes that nobody can read their documentation. This is the
problem I want to target.

In order to encourage the use of more widely understood languages we
should not require the use of a specific language but rather work on
realizing the following three-stage process:

Step 1: The author of a software provides a documentation in at least
        one of the languages listed above (or any other non-strange
        language).

Step 2: Someone strongly interested in the software translates that
        documentation into English (because that language is
        understood by the largest number of people worldwide).

Step 3: People that want to make use of the software proofread the
        translation of the documentation.

If the documentation is written in English we can skip Step 2.
Step 3 is crucial because it allows for (maybe lots of) mistakes in
the preceeding steps.

I am sure that if this process is a quite natural one. Indeed it is
what quite often happens without any external influence. If there is
a problem it almost always occurs in Step 1: If a documentation is
written in a slavic language, Chinese, Japanese or Korean there may
be many people interested in using the software but there are only
very few people that are *capable* of doing a translation and feel a
need for a translation.

If someone has software I find interesting and thinks he better
writes documentation in German, Dutch or the like I am willing to do
a translation.

Two remarks on languages:

(+) Dutch: I never did learn Dutch but (possibly because I am German
and did learn English as first and French as second foreign language)
I am able to understand technical texts and even the news written in
Dutch. Nevertheless I cannot understand spoken Dutch :-|

(*) Latin: It is indeed no problem to write technical documentation
in Latin. The Holy See does use Latin as its official language and
did invest *much* energy into a modern Latin dictionary that allows
them to write documents about today's issues in Latin.

Josef 'Jupp' Schugt <jupp (at) gmx.de>            http://jupp.tux.nu/