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Bridging the Japanese/English language gap in Ruby?

Ruby was already widely popular in Japan when it was still largely unknown in the rest of the world. The best demonstration of this occurred at RubyConf 2002 where a stack of 23 japanese Ruby books was displayed. This was at a time when Programming Ruby and Matz' O'Reilly book were the only ones around for English speakers.

The problem wasn't just about printed books, it stretched to documentation as well. Both problems have been addressed in the past few years, with many Ruby books published in English (and many other languages). English documentation has been made available as well.

Charles Nutter points out one problem still left: the Ruby core team around Matz still uses a Japanese mailing list:
As many of you know, Ruby was created in Japan by Yukihiro Matsumoto, and most of the core development team is still Japanese to this day. This has posed a serious problem for the Ruby community, since the language barrier between the Japanese core team and community and the English-speaking community is extremely high. Only a few members of the core team can speak English comfortably, so discussions about the future of Ruby, bug fixes, and new features happens almost entirely on the Japanese ruby-dev mailing list. That leaves those of us English speakers on the ruby-core mailing list out in the cold.
The topic of the language gap is also being discussed on the ruby-core mailing list.

What are your experiences with bridging language gaps in international teams with automatic tools? Is the standardization on a single language for a team unavoidable?

Note: InfoQ now also publishes a Japanese version of InfoQ at
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Community comments

  • automatic tools? in dream

    by ding jack,

    Your message is awaiting moderation. Thank you for participating in the discussion.

    face it. learning Japanese!
    just ask some non-English speak programmers how they have fixed this kind of problem: lenaring English!

  • Re: automatic tools? in dream

    by Richard L. Burton III,

    Your message is awaiting moderation. Thank you for participating in the discussion.

    You mean "... how they have fixed this kind of problem: learning English!"

    I believe Nutter is pointing out two problems. First the there aren't enough books on the subject of Ruby and secondly that it would be helpful if someone provided a translation tool for the mailing list. There are many websites out there now that provide this kind of feature for language translation, but none automate it for mailing list.

    Besides, no offense to those that speak multiple languages, but English is the second spoken most spoken language in the world and climbing (Considering it was ranked about 3 or so in the late 90s). It's right behind Mandarin (Go figure, can't beat a billion people :).

    Best regards,
    Richard L. Burton III

  • Re: automatic tools? in dream

    by Modrzyk Nicolas,

    Your message is awaiting moderation. Thank you for participating in the discussion.

    No offense, but ..

    You actually meant:
    "First there aren't enough books on Ruby"

    English is the third spoken language in the world:

    There are tons of really good ruby books in English. Have you shopped online recently?

    There are also dozens of powerful tools to translate anything from Japanese to English.
    Look at the awesome work than Jim Breen has done:

    Lazyness is not going to bring you anything.

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