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Translating Packets

Discussion of quizbowl topics not related to specific tournaments
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Translating Packets

Post by ganman0305 » Thu Mar 01, 2018 4:43 pm

Hi, I was curious if anyone here knew about translating packets into other languages. I can read and write Spanish to an OK degree (dear lord don't even get me started on conversations :shock: ), and I thought it might be cool to maybe start with like a novice set like SCOP and work it over. I don't know how to submit it though when I'm done, so any help there could be appreciated. Any thoughts?

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Re: Translating Packets

Post by socalcaptain » Thu Mar 01, 2018 7:39 pm

I pondered this once myself. I don't really speak any other languages fluently, but I always wondered how it might work. I think you'd have to really consider the flexibility of word order in the target language as well as its ability to use pronouns flexibly. But given that the target language cooperates with you, I don't see why you couldn't largely translate a packet. It's not as if the things we ask about don't exist in other languages.

The issue is probably more finding any use for the translated packet. Other countries might be a possibility, but that's a lot of administrative work to negotiate that across borders. One possible idea that might actually get some traction for a foreign-language set is in a bilingual school. If you can find a critical mass of them in an area, maybe you could run an event. For example, I know there is a bilingual program at one of the elementary schools in Champaign, Illinois. You'd probably have to find a larger city with several bilingual schools for this to work out.

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Re: Translating Packets

Post by Zurvan » Wed Jun 27, 2018 12:36 am

Sorry to post about 3 months late...I haven't been checking this board nearly as often as I'd like, but I think this is a really valuable topic and worth the attention.

This is actually a project that I began to work on once in one of my Japanese-language classes. While I hope to finish it someday, the intensive amount of labor required - especially as someone who isn't extremely fluent in the target language - led me to table it for the time being.

A lot of the points that Alex brought up were things that I really had to consider while writing questions - if I recall correctly, one challenge I had was trying to maintain pyramidality within clues while also constructing sentences that sounded natural in Japanese. Although, maybe that would be easier for someone who is more familiar with the language than I was at the time.

Another thing to consider when writing foreign-language packets, especially if your target is a foreign audience, is the mostly American- and Euro-centric distribution of questions in some of the categories, like history and literature. While an American student is going to have studied the Civil War in school, I can't imagine that a Japanese school would spend much time on that. When I was working on my set, I revised the question distribution to be more East Asia-centric. Another possibility to consider if you want to produce a set that can be easily exported to any location is to try eliminating regional bias altogether - but that could introduce a new set of challenges, like how to keep the internal difficulty of the set consistent within a particular region, given how educational curriculums vary across the world.

Then there's the issue of censorship in some countries...including questions about Tiananmen Square or anything remotely "splittist" in China or the Khmer Rouge in Cambodia could become a little sticky (maybe someone at NAQT would know more about this than I do, since they use some of their sets in Asia?).

While there's a lot of things to consider - and as Alex said, a lot of administrative work involved - foreign-language packets and quiz bowl abroad are things that I really hope to see become more widespread someday in the future. Kudos to you for trying to take on that task, even if only to a small degree!

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