Complicated plural forms for arabic translation

Asked by Ahmed Shams on 2011-07-06

NOTE: This issue is not a problem in Nautilus only, but in this kind of forms in Arabic Language in general.
The MSGID on: https://translations.launchpad.net/ubuntu/natty/+source/nautilus/+pots/nautilus/ar/428/+translate

English singular: Preparing to copy %'d file (%S)
English plural: Preparing to copy %'d files (%S)

The Arabic translation of the word 'file' in plural will be translated like this:
1-2 : ملف (file)
3-10 : ملفات (files)
10< : ملف (file)

it gets back to singular form after 10, this can be a problem if a user copies more than 10 files as it will appear as ملفات (files)<in plural> too, while it should appear in singular form, and we don't have enough entries to record them all.
There are 3 possible solutions:
1. To stick to the singular form, we'll sacrifice a bit of linguistic correctness but will avoid this problem, and it won't be unacceptable in Arabic, BUT In this case there will be no need for multiple fields.

2. Report a bug against Nautilus to fix the .po files to contain three entries(for 1-2, 3-10 and 10<)

3. Report a bug against Nautilus to remove ALL external fields, and stick to singular form in these cases [428, 429, 430 and 987]

Thanks in Advance.

Question information

Language:
English Edit question
Status:
Solved
For:
Ubuntu Translations Edit question
Assignee:
No assignee Edit question
Solved by:
Ahmed Shams
Solved:
2011-07-24
Last query:
2011-07-24
Last reply:
2011-07-11
David Planella (dpm) said : #1

El dc 06 de 07 de 2011 a les 17:41 +0000, en/na Ahmed Shams va escriure:
> New question #163988 on Ubuntu Translations:
> https://answers.launchpad.net/ubuntu-translations/+question/163988
>
> The MSGID on: https://translations.launchpad.net/ubuntu/natty/+source/nautilus/+pots/nautilus/ar/428/+translate
>
> English singular: Preparing to copy %'d file (%S)
> English plural: Preparing to copy %'d files (%S)
>
> The Arabic translation of the word 'file' in plural will be translated like this:
 <1-2 : ملف (file)
 <3-10 : ملفات (files)
 <10< : ملف (file)
>
> it gets back to singular form after 10, this can be a problem if a user copies more than 10 files as it will appear as ملفات (files)<in plural> too, while it should appear in singular form, and we don't have enough entries to record them all.
> There are 3 possible solutions:
> 1. To stick to the singular form, we'll sacrifice a bit of linguistic correctness but will avoid this problem, and it won't be unacceptable in Arabic, BUT In this case there will be no need for multiple fields.
>
> 2. Report a bug against Nautilus to fix the .po files to contain three entries(for 1-2, 3-10 and 10<)
>
> 3. Report a bug against Nautilus to remove ALL external fields, and stick to singular form in these cases [428, 429, 430 and 987]
>
> Thanks in Advance.
>

Hi Ahmed,

Thanks for bringing this up. One thing to remember, though, is that
while the issue is currently affecting one particular language (Arabic,
in this case), the proposed solutions would affect all other languages
too, so I'd like to understand more about the problem first.

This type of translatable messages with plurals (e.g. %d item, %d items)
are quite common in applications, and so far I haven't heard of any
report of them being an issue in Arabic.

In order to understand this better, could you please tell us why is it
an issue in the Nautilus translation, but not in other plural strings
from other applications?

Thanks!

Regards,
David.

--
David Planella
Ubuntu Translations Coordinator
www.ubuntu.com / www.davidplanella.wordpress.com
www.identi.ca/dplanella / www.twitter.com/dplanella

Ahmed Shams (ashams) said : #2

Hi David, sorry for late reply:
Sorry my mistake, It's not a problem in Nautilus only, but in this kind of forms in Arabic Languages.
I was talking about Nautilus, as it's the app from which I gave the link to the msg as an example, but I didn't clarify this in question, my mistake, sorry!
Here's how:
In Arabic Language, when someone tries to count things, it has very special forms depending on the range of numbers,
Here are how it should be translated in each case:

Text-----------------Arabic Translation
1 file.....................1ملف
2 files...................ملفان (but we simply translate it as 2ملف
10 ~ 3 files..........3 ~ 10 ملفات
11 ~ files.................11 ~ ملف

as you can see we have a special case on counting from 3 to 10 only.
This can concluded into 2 forms:
(ملف) in all cases except for range form 3 to 10 when it should be (ملفات)
This applies to all cases in all applications.

but I can't figure out why it should affect all languages, I think modifications should be implemented to ar.po files on each project. also, nobody on lp should do something just ask developers to fix and pay attention to these forms.

I don't know why nobody reported such problem, maybe because there are only few ppl who use Ubuntu in Arabic ;)

Milo Casagrande (milo) said : #3

Hi Ahmed,

I took a look at the Arabic language page in Launchpad:

https://translations.launchpad.net/+languages/ar

And there the plural forms are listed as being 6, not exactly the same as you said before, but almost.
I also found an article on the Internet about Arabic plural forms for gettext:

http://eglug.org/book/export/html/1631

And it says that plural forms for Arabic are 6, and almost like the ones you said.
Gnome upstream is also using the latter plural forms.

Since I'm not an Arabic speaker, can you please confirm which are the blessed plural forms for Arabic?
As David said, we have never heard of such an issue with regards to plural forms and Arabic language. Have you tried to contact the Arabic Ubuntu or Gnome translations team and discuss this problem with them?

For what I can understand, it looks like the plural form we use in Launchpad is correct.

Ciao.

Ahmed Shams (ashams) said : #4

Yeah, I was wrong, sorry for wasting time.
Thank you David and Milo, I appreciate your help.