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Old 08-05-2010, 06:44 PM   #1
tomsem
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Dual-language eBooks

I want to create some dual-language ebooks, and am trying to come up with the 'best' approach. I can think of several:
  1. Interlinear. A paragraph of language A, followed by the translation in language B
  2. Two columns (probably implemented as a table). Left column in language A, right column in language B (on a small screen, this might favor landscape display and preclude use of larger text sizes)
  3. Two parts. First part contains the entire text in language A, second part in Language B. Links with each paragraph to take you to the corresponding translation (or back).

I'm inclined to go with (3.) since it would be more immersive, possibly easier to format with a script, and more portable to different devices/screen sizes than (2.). Especially if I discover how to remove decorations from hyperlinks - the whole paragraph (or perhaps the first word in each) could be hyperlinked to its translation without any visual disturbance.

But thought I'd check to see if anyone else has been down this road...
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Old 08-05-2010, 06:50 PM   #2
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Quote:
Originally Posted by tomsem View Post
I want to create some dual-language ebooks, and am trying to come up with the 'best' approach. I can think of several:
  1. Interlinear. A paragraph of language A, followed by the translation in language B
  2. Two columns (probably implemented as a table). Left column in language A, right column in language B (on a small screen, this might favor landscape display and preclude use of larger text sizes)
  3. Two parts. First part contains the entire text in language A, second part in Language B. Links with each paragraph to take you to the corresponding translation (or back).

I'm inclined to go with (3.) since it would be more immersive, possibly easier to format with a script, and more portable to different devices/screen sizes than (2.). Especially if I discover how to remove decorations from hyperlinks - the whole paragraph (or perhaps the first word in each) could be hyperlinked to its translation without any visual disturbance.

But thought I'd check to see if anyone else has been down this road...
Or...

4. The ebook first starts with a 'which language do you want' screen. When the user selects the language (similar to a DVD movie), that language version is displayed. That way you could choose to have twenty or thirty language versions in each ebook...

Derek
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Old 08-06-2010, 04:38 AM   #3
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I chose (3) when I created the multilingual version of Dante's Divine Comedy.
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Old 08-06-2010, 04:52 AM   #4
FlorenceArt
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I downloaded a French translation of Seneca once, and found out that it has the Latin text after the French translation. So it was option 3. I don't see how any other option could be viable if you want your ebook to be readable on any device and screen size.

One possibility to improve navigation would be to add links between each version of a chapter, or section, or whatever is practical. For instance, at the beginning and end of chapter 1 in language A, you could put a link to the same chapter in language B, and vice versa. More work or course, so I don't know if it's worth it...
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Old 08-06-2010, 05:30 AM   #5
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Not sure whether this is technically practical, but it might be cool to have some kind of toggle that shows you paragraph next to paragraph in both languages, for instances when you might want to check one against the other. Then you'd toggle off, and go back to the story in the language of your choice. This might help substitute for the flipping that's possible with print books, but which is cumbersome with e-books.

Even with such a feature, I would want the book also available in your No. 3 option.

I own books published that way -- Chinese in one half; English in the other.
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Old 08-06-2010, 05:46 AM   #6
FlorenceArt
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Quote:
Originally Posted by tomsem View Post
I want to create some dual-language ebooks, and am trying to come up with the 'best' approach. I can think of several:
  1. Interlinear. A paragraph of language A, followed by the translation in language B
  2. Two columns (probably implemented as a table). Left column in language A, right column in language B (on a small screen, this might favor landscape display and preclude use of larger text sizes)
  3. Two parts. First part contains the entire text in language A, second part in Language B. Links with each paragraph to take you to the corresponding translation (or back).

I'm inclined to go with (3.) since it would be more immersive, possibly easier to format with a script, and more portable to different devices/screen sizes than (2.). Especially if I discover how to remove decorations from hyperlinks - the whole paragraph (or perhaps the first word in each) could be hyperlinked to its translation without any visual disturbance.

But thought I'd check to see if anyone else has been down this road...
Oops, I missed that part, so you are already planning to link the two versions together, good.

I don't think removing the "decoration" is a good idea. The reader needs to know what is linked and what is not. The first word in a paragraph could be an idea, yes, but I think a dedicated link with the language name or abbreviation would be clearer. And I still think links at the beginning AND end of a chapter might be a good idea.
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Old 08-06-2010, 06:00 AM   #7
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If there are more than 2 languages, you need some dedicated links, and cannot rely only on the text.
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Old 08-06-2010, 06:08 AM   #8
murraypaul
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Quote:
Originally Posted by tomsem View Post
I want to create some dual-language ebooks, and am trying to come up with the 'best' approach. I can think of several:
  1. Interlinear. A paragraph of language A, followed by the translation in language B
  2. Two columns (probably implemented as a table). Left column in language A, right column in language B (on a small screen, this might favor landscape display and preclude use of larger text sizes)
  3. Two parts. First part contains the entire text in language A, second part in Language B. Links with each paragraph to take you to the corresponding translation (or back).
If these are dual language for language study, like Loeb or I Tatti books, then I would think it is important for both texts to be visible at once. To have to keep switching back and forth would not be ideal.
Ignoring technical issues, I would prefer 2 (this is closest to how the pBooks are published, on facing pages), then 1 (with numbered paragraphs). I'm not sure I'd bother reading 3, at than point a double-page image scan of the original would be prefered.
For a single known target device, I'd produce two-page landscape PDFs with languages on facing pages, laid out so that each page has the same content. Obvious downsides are that this fixes font and font size, ties you to a given screen size, and will not work well on smaller devices.
The ideal presentation for me would be via an iPad app designed to do this, where you feed it pairs of matching paragraphs and it ensures that they are on screen at the same time, while allowing the user to customise the display.
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Old 08-06-2010, 08:10 AM   #9
WillAdams
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It's unfortunate that ePub doesn't have a built-in concept like to the Corbis CD-ROM _Leonardo_ and its nifty ``Codescope'' viewer:

http://www.xconomy.com/2008/05/09/an...-vinci-cd-rom/

William

Last edited by WillAdams; 08-06-2010 at 08:11 AM. Reason: spelling
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Old 12-03-2011, 04:47 PM   #10
jjpkelly
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I wrote a book last year which contains the same 8-page text in 11 languages. Each language is a separate chapter of the book, so the reader simply uses the Table of Contents to find the translation they want. So Option 3 works best in this situation.

Now comes a new problem: Kindle and Nook have only a limited number of languages which they can accept. If you plan to publish with either one, search their FAQ for the word "language" to see if they will accept both languages you intend to use. As for my book, I need to find some other eBook distributor, perhaps a PDF publisher.
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Old 12-03-2011, 07:02 PM   #11
Andrew H.
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I think the *best* way to do it is to have the translation as a facing page or facing column. This is what paper books do, and it has the advantage of not getting in the way if you are cruising through the target language, but it's easy to slide directly over to the appropriate sentence in the translation if you get stuck. I know that there are practical difficulties doing this on an e-ink reader, but I think it is by far the best system for language learners.
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