Ubuntu Bemba Translation Guidelines
Please read  (referenced at bottom of page) before reading this Bemba Specific Guide.
- To benefit as many people as possible we try to translate as much as possible upstream, at the source of the project.
- Feel free to translate online on Launchpad or download POT Files
- We try to focus, initially, on parts that are fast translated and have a huge impact. This will ensure that we see the results of our work very early on.
- General Ubuntu glossary of terms in English can be found at  below.
- We are all just learning as we do this work. Please feel free to consult and recruit other people you know will add value to this work.
To translate into Bemba, you need the Bemba Locales (bem_ZM). This locale is now included with the current glibc. You will need to select Bemba as part of your language configurations in your Ubuntu distribution. After that, you need to log out and log back in selecting Bemba from the session languages choice. You should be able to see that the days of the week on your calendar are in Bemba. If that is not the case, then try opening a terminal and running the command 'locale -a' without the quotes. It is supposed to show bem_ZM as part of the results. If not please check that you have enabled support for the language in your language selection settings. After that check you have the Bemba locale by typing in a terminal: locale -a
If a translation does not make sense for you / your grandmother, definitely it is wrong! A task not so easy in a first Time Computer Translation Language.
- Make your translation useful and adapt to the context. Do not always follow the original text. Try to make it sound usable in Bemba.
- Bemba is spoken in many different dialects and intensities. To make the translation work we use "Bemba-Lite" to make the program as easily understandable as possible, for people in towns and in the remote areas. What this means is that in the case where we have no simple representation of things like "computer monitor", in order to keep the sense simple and understandable, we will retain the words "computer monitor"
Bemba has a different way to treat respect, we try to be as polite as possible. An older person using the computer shouldn't feel insulted. For example, under 'File' menu there is 'Open'. We will not translate it to 'Isula' , we shall say 'Ukwisula'; for two reasons:
- a. It sounds rude to an older person trying to open, say a file for editing;
b. It is a direct translation which means nothing if not put in context. Isula what? A door, window, document, etc. You get the point. This means we shall try as much as possible to be age and gender neutral in the translations. We will try as much as possible to depict the action being done rather than assuming the computer is talking to the person and hence needs to show respect. At times this will be impossible and such areas will show here and there in the translation. We will also try and assume at times that the computer is being commanded to do something by the user where such is appropriate and there is no other way to convey the sense of what is being done.
- We have a page with common phrases and how to translate them to give a consistent feeling.
- Plural Forms: Bemba typically only has 2 plural forms just like in English.
Eglish Original text: msgstr %d thing msgstr %d things Bemba Translation: msgstr ichintu %d msgstr ifintu %d
However watch out for items which share a common plural form in normal spoken or written sense. An example is amenshi (water). There is no "amenshi yabili" its just amenshi. BUT when put in a context like 'a glass of water', then you can count it with singular and plural forms. [hope this makes sense, otherwise please help re-phrase to extract meaning]
- Where there is no simple Bemba equivalent to a word, leave it in English and consult the team for consensus on the best way to deal with the words.
If you are dealing with a verb in which 'C' and 'I' seem to be next to each other so that the pronounciation sounds like 'chi' in chicken, there is no 'H' in between. For example: Lelo nacilya ubwali ne nkoko is correct, BUT not Lelo nachilya ubwali ne nkoko. In a common noun or proper noun, there is always an 'H' in between like in Chileshe, Ichibansa ca bola.
- We will try and write the language the way it is spoken rather than the syntactically right way it is written. This will make it easier to read and make sense of the intention.
Our Mailing List (firstname.lastname@example.org)
English-Bemba dictionary by Dr John Sendama Snr ( http://kitweonline.com )
- Bemba Dictionary by the White Fathers
- Bemba Pocket Dictionary by Rev. E. Hoch (White Fathers)
Icengelo - A christian Bemba magazine - Use for proper written Bemba
Guide to Localisation - is a great resource for those of us new to translating.