Wednesday, December 01, 2004

Open Source Translation Project

I was talking to my friend "E" today and we came up with this great idea. The idea is Open Source translations.

Here is the plan. We ask everyone in the world who is bilingual (for now in English and something else) to take books, or whatever, in their language and translate it in to English. Of course this is a big undertaking, so what we really ask is if people can translate a page, or a paragraph, or a chapter. Ultimately the editor will colate all these pages and put them together.

We thought that there are tons of books out there, and we were thinking of Jewish books, but really, any books are useful to have, that should all be in English. Imagine if we took the complete responsa of Maimonides. There are probably a few hundred. If everyone with a spare hour or two did one responsa, we can have the whole thing translated. We put it up on line and ask people to check it for accuracy. Ultimately you have an editor who is fully competent in the language skim the whole thing, and you have a book. I was thinking that the complete poem of Yehudah Halevi might be useful too. Many have been translated, and many have not. If a hundred people each did one or two, we can have it done in no time, and it will be a great boon to the scholarly community, and look nice on academics' resumes.

This will of course take some web work, but it is ultimately doable, and I hope "E" and I can get to do this. If anyone wants to volunteer to do this, from any language to any other, be in touch. I think that open-source translations might be a good way to harness the talents of millions of bilingual people out there who only have a limited amount of time.

Computers have been doing this for a while. If we just chop the job up in to little parts and lewt everyine have a little part, we can get the whole thing done.

This is something that school children can get involved in, as can anyone who knows the language and can work a computer.

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