Re: [leaders] On the translation of legal text

From: D. Dale Gulledge (
Date: 2002-01-15 04:09:21

There is a statement on the Gnu web site about the FSF's policy on
unofficial translations:

My own summary of it is quite simple.  The English version of the Gnu
Public License is the only official one.  This is because it would be
difficult and expensive to get translations into other languages checked
by legal experts fluent in those languages.  It also means that there is
a single official version.  The translations exist to help users who are
not native English speakers understand the intent of the GPL.

With that in mind, I would suggest that the best way to handle the
translation is to include the English original with the translation. 
State in the translation that the English original is the official
version and that the translation is there as an aid to understanding it.

If there is general agreement about this, I think comments to that
effect should be added to the .po files to guide translators who aren't
reading this list.

Göran Uddeborg wrote:
> During the translation of gawk, we have had a discussion on the
> Swedish list regarding those messages:
> msgid ""
> "Copyright (C) 1989, 1991-%d Free Software Foundation.\n"
> "\n"
> "This program is free software; you can redistribute it and/or modify\n"
> "it under the terms of the GNU General Public License as published by\n"
> "the Free Software Foundation; either version 2 of the License, or\n"
> "(at your option) any later version.\n"
> "\n"
> msgid ""
> "This program is distributed in the hope that it will be useful,\n"
> "but WITHOUT ANY WARRANTY; without even the implied warranty of\n"
> "GNU General Public License for more details.\n"
> "\n"
> msgid ""
> "You should have received a copy of the GNU General Public License\n"
> "along with this program; if not, write to the Free Software\n"
> "Foundation, Inc., 59 Temple Place - Suite 330, Boston, MA  02111-1307, USA.\n"
> Should we translate these as laymen?  What are the implications?
> While it is pretty easy to translate it so it could be understood,
> legal wordings are sometime sensitive.  Maybe not so much in Sweden as
> in the USA, but a Swedish translation doesn't automatically imply a
> Swedish jurisdiction.
> Is this a question to the FSF, to the program developers, or to
> somebody else?  How do you other teams handle this?

D. Dale Gulledge, Sr. Programmer,
C, C++, Perl, Unix (AIX, Linux), Oracle, Java,
Internationalization (i18n), Awk.

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