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English is my native language. My other languages are Esperanto, French, German, Hebrew, Italian, Portuguese, Russian, and Spanish, in which I have varying levels of ability. I feel comfortable translating into English from any of those languages except Russian. I do not contribute sentences in any other language, other than occasionally in Esperanto to meet a particular need (for instance, to create a sentence based on an existing one when the latter is improperly linked). Likewise, I encourage others to contribute sentences only in languages in which they have native-level proficiency.
I lived in Germany for a year and a half, and later translated scientific and engineering material (including a textbook) from German to English. Here at Tatoeba, I've translated from German to English upon request (perhaps a hundred sentences or so). However, I've done far more translation from Hebrew to English (several thousand sentences), since I've been working on my Hebrew just about every day since late 2012.
*** MY CONTRIBUTIONS TO TATOEBA ***
In January 2014, I began coordinating between administrators, developers, and contributors. In March 2014, I officially became an admin myself.
In addition to general tasks related to sentences (adding, linking, etc.), I do the following:
- edit documentation
- submit and update tickets to record bug reports and enhancement requests based on comments on the Wall and my own observations
- fix bugs, make enhancements, and fulfill requests, especially those relating to:
-- user interface text
-- database consistency
-- remembering user preferences
The time that I can invest in Tatoeba is limited, in terms of both total time and what I can spend on any particular day. Therefore, I choose my tasks carefully. If you make a request, you need to convince me not only that it's worthwhile, but that it's AS worthwhile as, or MORE worthwhile than, other things I can be doing. You also need to convince me that the gain to the Tatoeba community is more than theoretical. For instance, before adding a language, I need to be convinced that native or native-equivalent speakers will contribute in it, so I want the request to come from a native who intends to contribute. As another example, if I have a choice between (a) taking thirty seconds to fix a sentence to the point where it is grammatically correct and natural and (b) taking half an hour to attempt to bring it to textbook quality (eliminating ambiguity, supplying missing context, and removing factual inaccuracies from the content, and then contacting the owners of linked sentences in order to do the same), I will choose option (a) every time. Tatoeba is not set up to provide a corpus in which each sentence is of textbook quality. Attempting to make it so will inevitably interfere with other goals, such as making the database consistent or the interface easier to use.
If you are able to modify a sentence, and think it should be modified, and you have a decent sense of judgment, often the best thing you can do, from my point of view, is to take that action yourself, rather than open a discussion about it.
*** RESOURCES BEYOND TATOEBA ***
Tatoeba is a fantastic resource, one that I have spent much time using and much effort improving, but I would not urge anyone to try to meet all their language learning needs here. For that, I recommend that people use a combination of textbooks, instructional audio, and the following online resources:
- online corpus sites, such as those listed on this page posted by Brigham Young University: http://corpus.byu.edu/
- language forum sites, such as Unilang ( http://unilang.org )
- sites that allow members to submit entries and correct others', such as Lang-8 ( http://lang-8.com )
The Tatoeba community is best served by recognizing that it is itself a part of the larger world of language learning communities, and focusing on what it does best.
*** PHILOSOPHY ABOUT FORMALITY ***
My belief is that most users of Tatoeba are looking for a way to improve their personal knowledge of the language, and that they are best helped by sample sentences that correspond to current usage, with an emphasis on written language, from a context that is neither extremely formal nor extremely informal. I try to shape my contributions accordingly.