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Guidance notes for translators

General principles


The Multilingual Museum takes a participatory approach to translations.

We invite contributions that reflect contributors’ personal preferences in regard to content, style, form of language or dialect, choice of words and spelling, as well as personal experience and opinions.


We also welcome so-called ‘loose’ translations that offer a basic explanation of the object rather than a word-by-word translation of the original accompanying text.



What can I translate / what should I translate?


You can choose to submit a translation of any of the texts that accompany items (objects); you can submit as many translations as you want.


Your translation should relate to the original text and the object to which it refers. However, you can choose how closely you wish to follow that text. You can select certain portions of the text to translate, and you can offer an interpretation of the text, as long as you do not change the basic facts of the original description.


You can also include in your translation opinions, observations or experiences that relate to the object if you want to do so; and you can add other media such as audio and video, for example to help others hear what your translation sounds like.


Use whatever style that you feel is appropriate: You can choose to simplify the text and use plain language if you want to make sure that it is accessible to more people of different ages and of different backgrounds.



Which language should I use? Can I use dialects?


Use any language or dialect that you choose. We very much welcome contributions that are written in regional or local dialects, minority or tribal languages. You can use whichever writing system (alphabet and spelling) that you feel is appropriate and that is normally used to write your language or dialect.


You can add your translation to the appropriate language category that appears with the relevant object. If you cannot find a category that matches your language you can ask the moderator to create one for you by submitting a request here.


If you are writing in a dialect of a particular language you can choose whether to add your translation under the category for the language as a whole, or create a category for your own dialect. For example, if you are writing in Egyptian Arabic, then you can either add you translation under ‘Arabic’ or ask us to create a category ‘Egyptian Arabic’ for you, whichever you prefer.


For some language and dialects, different spelling conventions are used depending on region or even personal preference. Feel free to use whatever spelling you are comfortable with.


Can I comment on other translations?


We are an interactive community, and we encourage contributors to engage with each other’s translations and comments. You can submit a comment on a translation that somebody else provided, and others may choose to comment on your translations. Comments can relate to the content, the style, the choice of words, the choice of spelling, and more. We just ask you to respect other people’s opinions just as they will be expected to respect yours; for more see our community rules.


If you have any questions, comments or suggestions, please contact us.

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