How to make non English speakers more welcome?

Comments about LibriVox? Suggestions to improve things? News?
Hokuspokus
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Post by Hokuspokus » October 19th, 2014, 10:56 pm

About 90% of our catalog is in English, all the other 30 something languages add up to only 10%. Why is that so and what can we do to help non English native speakers?

What problems did you have when you first came here?
What would you wish for to make recoding books in other languages easier and more fun?

We can't make everything happen but there is a lot we could do. Changes and additions in the Wiki, changes in the forums. Things you wished would have been mentioned in the welcome email?

Answers may be in any language as long as google translates them.

Piotrek81
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Post by Piotrek81 » October 20th, 2014, 12:38 am

Too small a number of active volunteers specialising in a given language may be discouraging. This may mean that your solo will stay in the forum for a long time because there will be no-one to PL it. And if you can't find someone to check your work for errors, you're not very motivated to stay (though both those things depend on the personality type).

Most of the essential wiki materials (recording guide, PLer's guide) are translated into several languages, although some frequently-used-on-LV languages are still missing (e.g Russian or Italian).

I think it could be a good idea to connect new volunteers with the already active LVers specialising in a given language. To make it seem less abrupt PMs could be sent to some of the most active non-English-language volunteers asking if they would be OK with such an approach. Those who would say yes could be some sort of mentors or facilitators. I bet many new volunteers would feel more at ease if they could get basic how-to info without having to worry about the language barrier.

These are the things I can come up with now.

EDIT: If someone knows how to add alternative-language subtitles to YT, they could try adding them to some of Phil's videos. They are immensely useful.

Overall, though, I think it's a bit of vicious circle. People come, see there are few works in their language in our catalogue and feel discouraged (many readers are also listeners). And if there are few readers there are few works.
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tovarisch
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Post by tovarisch » October 20th, 2014, 6:41 am

Piotrek,

What's missing in Russian, please? I'll undertake to complete [some of] the missing portions, since my current spare time situation lends itself to recording just enough to keep my solo project warm only not to be put on hold :( and I still want to be useful :oops:
tovarisch
  • reality prompts me to scale down my reading, sorry to say
    to PLers: do correct my pronunciation please

Piotrek81
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Post by Piotrek81 » October 20th, 2014, 12:04 pm

@tovarish
Take a look here: http://wiki.librivox.org/index.php/Main_Page
I thought it might be useful if some essential bits of wiki (e.g guide to recording, guidelines for proof-listeners, 1-minute test instruction) were translated into some other languages. I don't really know much about the typical level of English among Russian (or any other) volunteers and whether there is a need for such translations at all, but I think it could be seen as helpful and welcoming
.
Having said that, regardless of your native language at the end of the day you need the same qualities: free time, self-discipline and motivation. Fellow countrymen volunteers could be helpful too, as stated above ;)

Also, it could be a good idea to post the link to this thread in some non-English language project threads or make it more visible by stickying it.
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ScottLawton
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Post by ScottLawton » October 20th, 2014, 12:12 pm

Perhaps a section of the forum specifically focussed on non-English books? Granted, it's a bit 'unfair' to throw such diverse languages together, but at least it would gather together people who are in the same boat.

Even if much of the discussion was in English, people may feel more comfortable knowing that most others there speak English as a 2nd/nth language. (The regular forum sections could still be used once recording began; this separate one would be introductory and any needed off-line Q&A.)

While I'm only a Librivox fan (not a reader), I will share one anecdote from my youth. When I spent a year in Germany with only 3 years of high school German behind me, it was often easier to communicate with other non-native speakers with a wide variety of native languages. We tended to have similar vocabulary, and there was much less fear of making mistakes. A separate forum might be similar.

Just a thought.

Piotrek81
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Post by Piotrek81 » October 20th, 2014, 12:46 pm

There are separate threads specifically for users of certain languages (e.g. French, German, Spanish, Italian, I started one about Polish materials and suggestions) but maybe it could be a good idea to gather them together to make them more visible. Or do you think about something more comprehensive?
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Post by ScottLawton » October 20th, 2014, 1:03 pm

Piotrek81 wrote:There are separate threads specifically for users of certain languages (e.g. German
Well, that one says {Retired}. :-)
Piotrek81 wrote:maybe it could be a good idea to gather them together to make them more visible.
Exactly! Instead of having those threads inside 'Book Suggestions', I suggest creating a new section (sub-forum?)*: 'Reading NON-English books: Bienvenue, Willkommen, Benvenuti, Witaj' (or whatever).

* I don't know the right term here; I just mean that it should appear on https://forum.librivox.org/ side-by-side with 'Book Suggestions', 'New Project Launch Pad', etc.

Or perhaps as a 5th item beside 'Need Help? Got Advice?' and the others down in that section. Forum regulars will have a better idea WHERE it should go; my suggestion is just to promote to the top level.
Cheers,

Scott
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Hokuspokus
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Post by Hokuspokus » October 20th, 2014, 1:28 pm

ScottLawton wrote: Well, that one says {Retired}. :-)
There is a new and much better one here: viewtopic.php?f=1&t=53741 :)

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Post by Rapunzelina » October 22nd, 2014, 9:45 am

Hello everyone! I'm not a native English speaker, but I was taught English at school. English has been a mandatory subject at school for a long time, where I live, so all the people who use the internet here are familiar with the English language to some degree. I mean, the language wouldn't be an issue.

I needed some time to get acquainted with the forum. I used to get involved in one project at a time in the beginning, as it was difficult for me to orient myself in the forum, so I kept to one open thread at a time. But after some time, I got to know the forum, some functions like the "View your posts" link, etc, and navigating the forum became very easy!
So perhaps a separate forum for non-english discussions/projects might be helpful for the non-english members, especially if they're new, or maybe it just takes time to get used to the forum, and then browsing and finding what you're looking for is a piece of cake!

The biggest problem for me, though, is that the language I'm more comfortable reading in, namely Greek, was much more different a 100 years ago than today, rendering it actually more difficult to read PD publications of that time. Few authors wrote in the Demotic Greek (which we use today). The prevalent/official written Greek was the Katharevousa. Demotic became the official Greek language somewhere in the 70s, so for me (attending school in the 80's) Katharevousa is as foreign as Ancient Greek; I can read it, but I can't be sure of the correct pronunciation, and never quite sure I understand what I'm reading :mrgreen:
Nothing that Librivox can do about it, but I'm mentioning it because it might be a reason why other languages are scarce in Librivox, too.

Another thing was lack of PD sources. Gutenberg offers a relatively small variety of non-English texts. But looking around I started finding some nice sources, for example: http://anemi.lib.uoc.gr/ , which offers scanned works, also downloadable as PDF, that are in the Public Domain in Greece, that is author death date + 70 years, but by the publications date, most are also PD in USA. So if other people know of good PD sources for various languages, we could collect them in a nice list for the different languages, in the wiki (not sure if there's already such a list?)

Finding a proof-listener is a problem, yes, but I think there are workarounds. Someone might be able, for example, to proof-listen along with the text, matching sound to written word, without the need to understand what it means. Then my hope is that, the more recordings there are in a given language, the more possiblities for new members, speakers/listeners of that language, to join our community!

On a side note, maybe the concept, the idea of audio books, or of the voluntary creation of audiobooks, is still strange to many places of the world. There isn't an official standard greek word for audiobook, it's either "audiobook", too, or the descriptive phrase of "ακουστικό βιβλίο" (acoustic book) or "ηχητικό βιβλίο" (sonic book), and the most frequent reaction I get when I mention "recording audiobooks" is
- "how much are you getting paid?"
- "oh, no, that's a hobby. I'm volunteering"
- :shock: :shock:
Another reaction is "oh, wow, that sounds interesting!"
But apparently not interesting enough for them to get involved :lol:

Hokuspokus
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Post by Hokuspokus » November 1st, 2014, 5:34 am

Thank you all for your ideas and comments.
That there are only very few should tell us something, and I'm afraid it doesn't tell us that all non-English speakers are totally happy with things. I suspect that non native speakers don't come down here much.

I was very busy with RL these last weeks, so I'm a bit late to the party. I'd like to give my opinion first (Admin hat off) and then in a second post I will try to summarize the discussion here and in other places.

I would wish for language sub-forums where people could talk in their native languages. It is so much easier to ask a quick question or give an answer when one has not to translate and struggle with limited vocabulary. We do talk LOTE (= languages other than English) in the project threads but I suspect that the people who would benefit most from knowing that don't come that far.
There are two arguments against LOTE sub-forums. Even in such a friendly place as ours the forum needs to be monitored. This can only be done for languages where there is at least one Admin or experienced member willing to moderate such a forum.
We don't want to exclude but include LOTE. Some say that sub-forums would work more like a ghetto and we don't want that. Well, at the moment LV is a ghetto of people who are able and willing to read at least basic English, we exclude all the rest of the world.
Such a sub-forum I would wish for, wouldn't include the projects thread, these should stay in Readers Wanted. There could be a sticky with a list of active projects, the book suggestion thread and maybe links to relevant Wiki pages. It might be good to allow test recordings to go there.

We should make it more visible that we do LOTE in every way possible. Unfortunately our new catalog is very English centred and there is not much we can do about that, as cataloging is highly automated. That is the prize we have to pay for relatively easy cataloging. We could add links to Wikipedia pages in the relevant language (the main database entry has the link to the English Wikipedia). Now please don't put in the link to other Wikipedias when you set up a new project. That would create a mild chaos backstage. You could ask your MC to add the link additionally.
On the catalog pages it says: Language: German. It might be possible to change that to Language: German/Deutsch

It would be great if the staff picks could include one LOTE book when ever possible, or point to a translation if we have one.

If you have a blog/homepage (or Facebook account even), write about our books in your language. You don't need to write much, just copy the catalog URL and the summary. Or invite people to take part in the ongoing projects.

These are tiny things, but tiny things add up.

I have learned English at school. I read and listen in English quite well, but I only speak English once or twice a year and write English only here. Actually I re-learned English through and because of LV. It is uncomfortable for me, I always have to pull my thoughts together when I write. I'm quite a bit embarrassed when I re-read my posts some time later and see my mistakes and I simply don't dare to think about grammar. There must be hundreds like me who don't want to risk it or don't want to be bothered.

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Post by Availle » November 1st, 2014, 5:50 am

Hokuspokus wrote: On the catalog pages it says: Language: German. It might be possible to change that to Language: German/Deutsch
I like that idea. Maybe even the other way around: Deutsch/German. I wonder how hard it would be to implement at this stage.
It would be great if the staff picks could include one LOTE book when ever possible, or point to a translation if we have one.
I want to point out that IF there is another version of a staff pick in whatever language, I always include a link to it. Unfortunately, most of the times there is none; only the most popular books have been translated into other languages to begin with - to say nothing of having been recorded here - and not all of those translations are PD as well.
Also, we had complete LOTR staff picks in September 2011 and August 2013 (and I am planning another one for next year February - should I have said that? :lol:) The last time I even stayed away from the usual German/French/Portuguese... of which we have relatively many recordings. Still, there is not much poetry/drama work out there in other languages, unfortunately.
Cheers,
Ava.

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Post by Hokuspokus » November 1st, 2014, 6:02 am

:lol: I don't monitor the staff picks so closely and I got the impression that you somehow don't like to include them. People "out there" might get a similar impression.

Piotrek81
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Post by Piotrek81 » November 1st, 2014, 6:31 am

I can recall some Polish staff picks being included after my suggestions, although, yeah, mostly they seem to be in English.

Also, maybe you could use Masa's list (or some other source) and put the number of works-in-languages-other-than-English somewhere in a visible place on the page, so that non-English speakers who visit us can easily see it. Yeah, I know there's supposed to be a fuctionality like this in the advanced search, but it's known to be glitchy.
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Post by Availle » November 1st, 2014, 6:32 am

I sometimes think nobody monitors the staff picks at all, especially if there's a month where I don't get any suggestions and I have to do all my own digging... :lol:

You are right, I don't like to include LOTE works out of the blue, without a translation. On a site where practically everything is in English (I'm just stating this as a fact) I would find that very odd.

However, I was already considering doing a language of the month theme, like "French/German/Russian... literature". I was thinking of presenting famous works in said language and in English. But then I would most likely run into problems like: "OH look, this is such a wonderful classic in {insert language} and everybody there reads it, but we only have it in English", and that is... meh.... :?

Besides, I'm not sure how I would do with my division of 5 fiction - 3 non-fiction, 1 drama and 1 poetry entry then :wink:
Cheers,
Ava.

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Post by Availle » November 1st, 2014, 6:37 am

Piotrek81 wrote: Also, maybe you could use Masa's list (or some other source) and put the number of works-in-languages-other-than-English somewhere in a visible place on the page, so that non-English speakers who visit us can easily see it.
There are the current librivox statistics including this number at the bottom of the main page. I know that does not really qualify as "easily seen", but it is there...

Oh, I have just seen that right now, we have:
Cataloged works: 8,100 :clap:
(This might even have been the one I did this morning... 8-))
Cheers,
Ava.

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