Since The Document Foundation got formally established as a German charitable foundation earlier this year, we were pondering a number of activities to sponsor, that would be in line with our statutory and regulatory obligations. As our statutes advise TDF to further the use of Free Software, among other things, by introducing children and adolescents to FLOSS and LibreOffice in particular, one rather obvious problem with that is a certain language barrier (there’s considerable use of slang in youth culture, alongside a lack of older vocabulary sometimes used in UI), plus an issue with comprehending longer, more complex sentences (which pop up in e.g. tooltip help, or LibreOffice documentation texts).
The corpus of available research around these issues is still rather incomplete (the field is new, and somewhat controversial), but we see a very practical need here. That’s why I plan, possibly already with LibreOffice 3.6, to support a fourth German sub-locale (besides German, German/Swiss, German/Austria) – German/Kiez. That would include initial UI translation, dictionary, and help. A hopefully illustrating example, on why this is useful (my German-speaking audience will notice how different from standard German this dialect is) here:
I will seek to get EU funding for that, if at all possible, especially since via that project, TDF can hopefully also contribute to this new field of linguistic research – e.g. by supporting case studies on how more easily pupils take up UI that’s presented in “their” language, compared to standardized German. Which, in closing, really is one of the many strong selling points for FLOSS – the Freedom to tweak, and translate, to your local user’s needs, whatever you think they are.
We will work on this, and many other things by the way, at the upcoming Hamburg Hackfest on April 14th/15th.