4,616 Sentences in 21 Days: How I Translated Mautic Into Hungarian During the Lockdown

When the shelter in place order came in Budapest at the end of March, people were first pretty overwhelmed. People needed to acquire new skills in a matter of days, and I think we all turned into cooks, teachers and sysadmins overnight.

Note: this article first appeared in the official blog of the open source software Mautic, on which Friendly Automate is based.

DIY and recipe blogs visits skyrocketed, and I also found myself listening to podcasts discussing how to make the most of the quarantine times.

While researching how to use the time the best, it came up that this wasn’t the first time civilization hit the pause button. I’m sure you also heard, Shakespeare wrote King Lear in 1592 when he was quarantined during the great London plague. In another version of the story he wrote Antony and Cleopatra and Macbeth as well during his lockdown times.

What a tryhard.

Turning To Translation

It is a consensus that keeping a tight, colorful schedule with recurring tasks helps you to survive the time in quarantine. With all the time on my hands and no talent in dramatical writing, I turned to the next coolest thing: translating. I used to translate movies and games into Hungarian for living years ago.

Being a daily user of Mautic and working for an agency that builds Mautic-based solutions for clients, my first thought was to translate it into Hungarian. By opening it to a new market, new developers could join the effort and contribute to the success by bringing their fresh ideas to the table. A benefit for everyone.

You see, there are a couple of countries on this planet that suffer from island mentality. Japan would be one of them, and that is because they are on an actual island. You can be sure that no product can be successful unless it’s translated into Japanese.

Hungarians are similar (and not only because we write the last name first as Japanese people do), they have one of the worst foreign language knowledge in all Europe. It is like a cultural island.

An international movie in Hungary won’t be ever successful without being dubbed, and Mautic cannot be successful without being translated. The issue is not with my talented developer countrymates’ language knowledge, but with the average marketing person who is the end user of Mautic, or the contacts who want to see the unsubscribe text in Hungarian.

I was thinking, if I have to do something every day not to go crazy, why not translate Mautic in the next 3 weeks?

Getting Started With Translating Mautic

The whole text was 4616 strings long and a couple hundred were done already. I ran through those, and realized that I might have to re-translate some of that as well. If I wanted to finish in 21 days, that makes it around 200 strings per day. That is not so bad!

I would never think it is so much fun to translate this software, which is partially made possible thanks to Transiflex, the translation tool. The whole text is broken up into bundles, which makes it digestible. You feel great after completing a bundle. You can filter by topics and dates, which gives you the ability to choose the area you want to progress with. You can always see how long a bundle is, so you can choose one according to the time available.

There is a gamification side of the tool as well. You see the progress on a leaderboard, and every day you pass another country, you feel good about yourself! At least if you are as competitive as me!

One day I completed 500 strings, just because I wanted to pass another country on the list. I was up until 2am! Bye, Finland!

When I started, I went for the oldest strings, which opened up the history books: I learned all the failed ideas of Mautic, witnessed by those long obsolete strings about chat and other abandoned features.

Once the ancient times were passed I reached a point in time, where someone must have realized that help text is really important, and suddenly every single button and function was explained. Translating those felt like getting a free training in Mautic. I would recommend it to everyone who wants to learn this software seriously.

I managed to keep myself to the schedule, and it took me around 3 weeks to finish everything.

4616 strings are actually 16,000 words. That is an equivalent of a short novel. It makes me no Shakespeare, but if I managed to spark an interest in Hungary, that results in great plugins, and amazing contributions, then my effort already made sense.

And that Shakespeare story. Turned out to be a hoax!

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