I have been working on a guide for Firefox 3.5 for media. Many of the new features and improvements are described … but I realized, that the number that keeps astonishing me is that we will ship this new piece of software in more than 70 languages on day one (and for three platforms). The number impresses me for a number of reasons:
Granted, my excitement for this topic might have to do with the fact that I studied languages, but still, could you name more than 70 languages of the top of your head? I never tried, but am fairly shure I would struggle. Call it learning on the job – I had not event heard of a few of those 70 languages before I started to follow the list of languages Firefox offeres localized versions for.
According to Wikipedia, the exact number of known living languages will vary from 5,000 to 10,000, depending on the definition of “language”. At the same time, the top 10 languages (English, Chinese, Spanish, Japanese, French, Portuguese, German, Arabic, Russian, Korean) cover 83.8% of all internet users ( www.internetworldstas.com/stats7.htm). Glad Mozilla does not forget about the languages that are not in the top 10.
Project work times 70!
Apart from the mere number, think of all the work that has do be done to accomplish this! Community members do all this translation work in their spare time. And only a handful of people are managing the enormous process behind all those versions at Mozilla. Even huge companies do not match that. Some things can only be done with the help of community!
Some of the localizers have been working on Firefox since version 1.0 – or on Mozilla projects even before Firefox was “born”. Just imagine how many of them have coined terms in their language by choosing to translate a certain feature in a certain way for Firefox. Would be interesting to create a list of terms that were first used for Firefox and are now common terminology. A dimension of open source influence on society I have never thought about! Topic for a dissertation?
From over 40 to over 70 in a year
Firefox 3.0 was offered for download in more than 40 languages at launch last July. About 30 languages have been added for 3.5! How many more will it be for the next major release?
If you would like to add a language – or contribute in some other way – please check out http://contribute.mozilla.org/Mozilla_Community