djafifa: (Default)
My translation task mostly involved converting a series of "strings" from English to Jamaican English or Patois. Strings are instructions or responses that the computer will give based on operations or functions performed by the user. The translation file list the strings in some kind of order as you translate it becomes apparent, but it is not immediately apparent what the order is or it is difficult to see how the strings connect to the big picture. This is where understanding context becomes important and my question for doing translation work begins.
In approaching translation the way we did. There is one important assumption that are been made. That is; translation is done by taking one word and converting it to another word. This assumption can be problematic when you consider the following:

Would i use different words if i were given a picture of the broader context? For example how the instructions/strings were created? what the assumptions were of the interactions between the machine, the system and the user?

Could translation be improved if there was interaction between the developers and the translator.

It seems to me that at the point where the translation starts there is also an assumption that the "technical" originates from the language being translated. that there is no technical in "translation" language.

Removing the context from translation overlooks the power of words and that words only have meaning in certain context.
djafifa: (Default)
After translating maybe 600 strings i realized that the idea of a translation dictionary may actually be a good and necessary one.
A translation dictionary would help to make standard common terms used in strings. it would also help the translator with the task. the more strings there are to translate the more helpful i think a translation dictionary could be. As i translated i highlighted a few words that i thought would demonstrate the validity of a dictionary. In this case the translation is for English to Jamaican English:

select/choose- pick
detecting-looking for
configure-setup
auto configuration-auto setup
guided partioning-partioning wid help
query-check fa
network administrator-person who run di network
please wait- hol on likkle bit
scanning disk- looking pon di disk dem
modify- change
write- put on
manually- yuh self
destroy-mashup
processing-working out
unused- neva use
extracting packages- tekking out packages
enable- activate
suppliment- work wid
local time- time which part yuh deh
default-regular
origin- source
protocol- how
edit-mek changes
format- setup
reboot-start up di system again
invalid- wrong

These are just some of the words. one of the difficulties that was encountered during the translation was recognizing the importance of understanding certain technical terms in order to translate and create the dictionary.
djafifa: (Default)
Translation forces us to think about language as more than the arrangement of words. But the construction of meaning.
djafifa: (Default)
Isn' this great after translating 300 string and almost finishing the first part of my translation i open my file to a message that it cannot be found because it is lost or corrupted. So start over right.... not really. How did this happen. what did i do? How does a POT file get corrupted if all you are doing is typing and saving?

So i starting searching on the internet for clues on how to repair this. No clue. I can't really do all of this again to get another message like this. I want to find out what went wrong. I wonder if maybe i can download a different translation editor. could it be a bug? I think there should be a translators website that can tell you what to do when these things happen like a FAQ. ahhhhh bwoy.
djafifa: (pic#7138616)
So i am translating strings into Jamaican English( Patois) now. Going through reading different instructions, interpreting and then writing in my language. after you have done a few strings you start to feel like a machine. but that is a good thing. i start to imagine the process, the communications, the instruction, the interaction. i like that feeling. it is different from clicking and getting an action. I like this. i like knowing what is happening and i like that Debian is allow me to see this. I think this is the beauty of open source in general. It allows you to talk to the machine. why is this important. i think this matters because we have more and more modern day machines and process that do things for us just with a click and we don't understand why or even how. Apps are an example. download an app and it can give you directions to your house or it can tell people your location or it can locate all your friends on facebook who have been to the place you are at. Why don't we want to talk to machines why don't we want to understand what they want and how they are built?
djafifa: (Default)
I just completed the most difficult task so far in my internship. I was to "send your translation as a bug report against the
"locales" package. Please CC me to the bug report (reportbug will ask
you if you want to CC some mail addresses to the bug report)."

I had just completed the edits to the new locale file for Jamaica and thought that report bug would be an easy editor that i would use to sen an email. It was not so simple at all. I had to use the command line and this made me feel quite adequate but humble. What did i really know about computers. I struggled to talk to them.  In my struggle i wondered who taught computers to speak in this way? Why does ^ X mean exit?
djafifa: (Default)
To move further along with my translation project for Debian. I have to provide a locale file. This is something i have never heard of before. According to Wikipedia.

"In computing, a locale is a set of parameters that defines the user's language, country and any special variant preferences that the user wants to see in their user interface. Usually a locale identifier consists of at least a language identifier and a region identifier."

Given an example to look at these are some of the definitions that a locale file requires.

category "en_US:2000";LC_IDENTIFICATION
category "en_US:2000";LC_CTYPE
category "en_US:2000";LC_COLLATE
category "en_US:2000";LC_TIME
category "en_US:2000";LC_NUMERIC
category "en_US:2000";LC_MONETARY
category "en_US:2000";LC_MESSAGES
category "en_US:2000";LC_PAPER
category "en_US:2000";LC_NAME
category "en_US:2000";LC_ADDRESS
category "en_US:2000";LC_TELEPHONE

In patois or Jamaican English Non of these things have been discussed as things that define our language. All the conversation previous has been about how words are spelt. Sure there are things that define Jamaica, but these are borrowed from either American or British Societies.

I shared with a friend the difficulty i was having at this point. I told him the stage i was at with the translation and the idea of the locale. He was so interested because he too realized that while we were advocates for our own language that perhaps the linguists in our country had led us a stray by not wanting to more fuller and broadly look at the culture of our language.

Could we think about paper size in patois or Jamaican English? where would that come from? what explorations would lead us to a patois specification for paper size. I use Patois and Jamaican English interchangeably but i am really interested in the "native tongue spoken in Jamaica, the language that you naturally speak without being taught".

Something as simple as time. How is that written in Patois? or Jamaica English?

How much more exploration do we need to do to give our language life?


Jamaican English

di next assignment weh mi hav fi dun innah di debian project is fi finish something name one locale file. mi never hear bout locale file so naturally mi haffi go look fi it innah google.  As cording to Wikipedia Locale file gi u some information weh u a go need people understand ur language when it show up innah the software. a like di thing dem weh mek ur langauge different from oda people language.  

bu mi fine miself innah problem cause dem a ask mi fi things like paper size, time, date and currency, and address. mi really a wonda a weh dem thing deh innah a fi wi langauge. Mi know seh you have dem thing deh fi Jamaica yes but dem ting deh come from Britain and America. like how write di data a British style we use and mi find out seh paper size a american standard we a use. di ting really just a puzzle mi cause mi nuh undastand how all di talk weh we a talk dem ting yah never innah di conversation pon language. so mi a reason wid mi fren Zanj bout it and him a seh a serious ting fi true and it is a very interesting ting weh a gwaan. is like mi a ask mi self den how we tink bout time innah patois? how we measure money? mi nuh waan ask America and Britian how dem do it mi waan we fi figure out how we waan do it. An u know di ting bout it mi a go haffi do some serious work pon dah ting yah, cause mi feel seh we ago haffi understand some tings bout Africa an african thinking bout time an space an life. mi really waan go deep innah it.


djafifa: (Default)
Just in case you didn't read the previous post. I am including a sepearte link to a story that was carried about the internship with DEBIAN under the OUTREACH PROGRAMME FOR WOMEN.

Translation underway to include Jamaican English in Linux-based operating system
djafifa: (Default)
(Jamaican English)

Mi neva did really plan fi write dah pos yah innah Jamaican english but mi change me mind and mi a go write it. Mi did write it down innah mi book innah english but mi realise seh dis haffi talk innah patois mi will write it di oda way innah english lata.

So mi get thru fi di internship with di linux people dem name debian and mi ago put fiwi jamaican language (dem seh fi call it jamaican english, but a di same patois) innah di debian operating system installation instructions, di operating system a di ting weh mek every computa work. Debian different though cause a open source. dat mean it free fi anybody install and use pon dem computa. when mi explain to people weh me a do some get i but some nuh really get it cause fiwi langauge a nuh fi computer world. Some people think is a cool likkle project but dem nuh really think it ago go easy fi translate and dem nuh really see the relevance still. but mi a gwaan thru same way. mi beleive is a good move. when mi look pon it. mi always see fi mi language in a story book a gi joke and a so dem use it. when mi did a teach some class a uwi mi realise seh people nuh really get certain idea until u tell dem innah patois. but innah our culture we have a thing we call reasoning the Rasta man dem really doa whole heap a dat. we siddung and we talk bout things. when we a reason we a use our langauge patois, some people a use patois and english mi call dat jamaican english but as mi seh before a di same patois. so if we can reason innah patois why we caan write innah it to. mean seh why we caan write like how we think. and if we can give joke innah patois den why we caan tell people bout important things innah patois too. a long time dis debate a gwaan innah jamaica though bout if patois is a langauge or not and if it can write. people like louis bennette a talk an a write innah patois long time but dem nuh teach we innah school and it nuh recognize. everyday you a hear pon di radio seh u we better off innah life if u can talk good english. mi use to work a one place weh dem a deal wid litercay problem innah adult and yute and mi see seh di biggest thing weh mek we illiterate as cording to government is because we caan write like how we talk.

Mi have one friend we work a di national newspaper. it name the jamaica observer, him so excited him decide fi interview mi and di article come innah di sunday paper and nuff likkle people a talk bout it.

see di link fi di article yah so.

mi frigthen fi see some a di commment dem. one a mi fren dem write this pon facebook:


Afifa is my friend, she is a great person and I love her. Thumbs up. But why on earth is Jamaica continuing this backward, counterproductive drive of translating reading materials (the Bible and now computer software) into Jamaican patios? Why are we sending this message to our people that in a world that is becoming increasingly interconnected, and where other countries are pushing their people to master standard English, we need to stand out and do the opposite? How can we be doing so badly in CXC English, and yet be printing patios Bibles, and pushing a patios written word agenda? Why are we making our people backward, when the world is moving forward?! First the Bible, now software, are they gonna get visa applications forms in Jamaican patios too? Are they gonna get their job application forms in patios? Are they gonna be able to speak patios to immigration officers who only understand standard English, and expect to get into a country? Or are they gonna get vex when their reasons for visiting doesn't stand up and they are sent back? Are we gonna continue to beg for multinational companies to come and invest in a country where they will meet difficulty communicating with the locals they hire, because the latter somehow got it into their heads that their local dialect is superior to a standard mode of universal communication? Where are we going to be as a country is 50 years time? In the stone ages? Anyone who can shed light on this please do, maybe I am just over-reacting.


even di comment dem unda di bottom a di article even more interesting. Carolyn cooper write one article innah di oda national paper name di Jamaica Gleaner she a talk bout the same thing she write it innah Jamaican English. see di article yah so.

is a big conversation a gwaan and it a gwaan from long time. di las time something really get translate innah jamaica was the Bible, but dat dis cas nuff money and ting and nuh till ong hafta mi realise seh fi translate di bible innah patois a nuh bout the bible itself a bout di patois. mi mean seh a bout meking jamaican people see weh dem a seh write down and waan write some more things because a dat.

(English)
( Title translation- Surprise Surpise- Some Jamaicans don't surpise me)


I wasn't planning on writing this post in Jamaican english. I had written it in english in my diary first but then changed my mind and decide to write it in Jamaican English and then Translate it to English after.

I was successful in my application for the internship with Debian. My project is about translating the Debian installer into Jamaican English( They refer to it as Jamaican English but it is patois as well). When i explain what the project is some people don't really understand because they don't beleive that our language ( native tongue belongs to the world of technology/computers. Although some other people think it is a cool project they still don't beleive it will be easy to do the translation and they don't see the relevance either way. I don't pay too much attention to these comments i beleive it is a great move.

When i think about it though, Patois is always is used to tell stories and make jokes. When i taught some classes at the University of the West Indies, I realised that there were many students who wouldn't understand some ideas until they were shared in patois. In our culture we "reason" alot. It is something that we learnt from Rastafari. Reasoning is about talking and debating and sharing ideas. when we do reason, we reason in patois. So my question is if we can reason in patois and we understand and it makes sense to us why can't we write in that langauge too.

The debate about language has been going on for a long time in Jamaica. Most of the debate is about whether it is really a language. Although one of our great poets. Louis Bennette has been talking and writing in patois for a long time. Patois is not a recognized language by the Government in Jamaica and so it is not taught in schools. We are always hearing on the radio that you are better off if you are able to speak English well and that several opportunities globally available for you.

I used to work with an organization that deals with Adult Literacy and I saw that the biggest problem with literacy was that a large population of people who were native patois speakers who could communicate well in patois but not write engish well or express themselves well in English were branded as illiterate.

I told a friend of mine Stephen Jackson who works at the Jamaica Observer about my internship. He was so excited he did an article on which appeared in the papers. There was lots of good conversation about this. You can find a link to the article here.


Another friend of mine commented on facebook:


Afifa is my friend, she is a great person and I love her. Thumbs up. But why on earth is Jamaica continuing this backward, counterproductive drive of translating reading materials (the Bible and now computer software) into Jamaican patios? Why are we sending this message to our people that in a world that is becoming increasingly interconnected, and where other countries are pushing their people to master standard English, we need to stand out and do the opposite? How can we be doing so badly in CXC English, and yet be printing patios Bibles, and pushing a patios written word agenda? Why are we making our people backward, when the world is moving forward?! First the Bible, now software, are they gonna get visa applications forms in Jamaican patios too? Are they gonna get their job application forms in patios? Are they gonna be able to speak patios to immigration officers who only understand standard English, and expect to get into a country? Or are they gonna get vex when their reasons for visiting doesn't stand up and they are sent back? Are we gonna continue to beg for multinational companies to come and invest in a country where they will meet difficulty communicating with the locals they hire, because the latter somehow got it into their heads that their local dialect is superior to a standard mode of universal communication? Where are we going to be as a country is 50 years time? In the stone ages? Anyone who can shed light on this please do, maybe I am just over-reacting.


Even the comments at the bottom of the article were very interesting. An article appeared in another National paper the Jamaica Gleaner, written by Carolyn Cooper. Her article was commenting on the debate over the value of our language. You can find a link to the article here.

This is a major debate that has been going on for a long time. The last time there was any major translation in Patois it was a translation of the Bible. This cost a lot of money. It wasn't until recently that i really recognized that to translate the Bible in patois wasn't about the Bible it was about the Patois. It was really about making Jamaicans see that how they speak, how they express themselves can also be written and to encourage them to want to write other things important to them in their language.
djafifa: (Default)
My research on ICT4D has taken a very interesting turn. During my research my view of technology as i heard it being talked about and saw it operate was cynical- this is the best word that comes to mind. By cynical i mean doubtful of what i was told technology would create for us in the way of progress or development or just what it was suppose to mean. I saw the latest cell phones were there was not a regular supply of electricity. I saw 3G phones/devices where there were maority CDMA networks. I generally felt that we were getting a bit ridiculous in Jamaica and taking the technology thing too far. I have always felt that i was living in a time when we were just putting the cart before the horse.

I looked at the E-Learning project (introduction of computers into schools to improve student performance) with a very critical eye and saw how technology was imposed to create a miracle.

My understanding of technology is now changing as a result of a few events.

1. The Politics of Open Source Software

Matthew McNaughton ( Executive Director of the Slashroots foundation in Jamaica) had mentioned to me that he had done research for his first degree on open source software in Cuba.Looking specifically at how Open Source Software could democratize development. I was fascinated by the concept of how by using open source software individuals and governments were countering the dominant narrative of innovation and development and creating their own space and terms.

2. A Problematic installation of Windows 7 on my computer forces me to install and work with Ubuntu. Launching me head on into the world of Free and Open Source Software with a new level of commitment.


3. Working as Programme Mananger for Code for the Caribbean Programmme stimulates my interest in the technical aspects of techhnology, coding and designing and forces me to explore Linux more.

4. An exploration of the presense/absence of women in technology after a bad day at work leads to me finding FLOSSIE. a collective of women based in England that explore Open Source and hardware.

5.Watching a series of lectures on Youtube about the Flossie Movement and Linux.

6. Discovering the FOSS OPW internship for women applying to translate the Debian installer in Patios/Jamaican English and getting accepted.


All of these recent events have led me to see;

1. how community can be created around technology

2. There are alternative cultures all over the world that are not capitalist and oppressive but about creating cultures of sharing community access and innovation.
djafifa: (Default)
(These post are delayed. I have a wierd relationship with machines. I am writing all the time but in my book first then on the machine. it feels better and it flows more. I date all my entries in my book.)


i will begin my journey here even though it is not where it began. They announced the interns today and i am one of them. An intern with Debian in the Gnome Outreach Programme for Women. It means alot and I am too excited to think. But i am thinking and thoughts are running through my mind. I think what excites me most is the community. I am joining a community of people who care about technology, making things. Debian is apart of the Linux community. I think my first lesson is community.

What is community?
How do you build it? Sustain it?
How is technology doing this?
Why is linux doing this?

At the same time i am thinking about the Debian project i am thinking about the research project on activist cultures i will be starting next year. Both are connected and this is why i say my first lesson is community.

women in community
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