Wednesday, October 31, 2012

Beware of the translated Arabic Agile Manifesto

(And not just because the world gets its hackles raised when they see "Arab" and "Manifesto" in close proximity.)

The Agile Manifesto has been translated into many languages, including a few that are written from right to left like Arabic and Urdu. If you translate one of these using Google Translate [1], you'll be misled. Because Google will translate the last sentence starting with و یعنی (AR) or یہ اسلئے (UR) literally. Which comes out to "... we give greater value to items on the right side". This is a literal translation, but it's false. Because in the original Arabic, the "items on the right side" are الأفراد وتعاملهم فيما بينهم (individuals and their mutual interactions), البرمجيات الصالحة للاستعمال (correctly working software), etc. You know, the things we all value highly.

Context is everything. If you don't pay attention, your left hand won't know what the right hand values more.

[1] Very easy to do if you view the page using Google Chrome.

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