Rules and Guidelines

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The 2 Ways You Can Be the Most Helpful

  1. You can translate from a foreign language you know into your own native language or strongest language.

  2. You can create natural-sounding sentences in your own native language for others to translate into their native languages.

The Rules with Explanations

We want complete sentences.

  • We don't want just words or phrases.
  • Phrases used as complete utterances in everyday conversation are OK if included in a dialog, showing their use in context.
  • Example: "When did Tom arrive?" "Just before Mary did."

Do not add sentences from copyrighted sources.

  • The license for the Tatoeba Corpus doesn't allow adding sentences from copyrighted sources.

We want natural-sounding translations, not word-for-word direct translations.

  • We don't want the awkward, unnatural-sounding translations seen in textbooks to help students understand how another language is constructed.
  • We want sentences that a native speaker would actually use.
  • Remember that others will be using the translation that you make into your own language to study your language.

Do not include annotations as part of sentences.

  • Don't include phrases like the following inside your sentences.
    • He/she as in He/she said it was hot.
      • Instead, you should submit 2 sentences.
        • He said it was hot.
        • She said it was hot.
    • (female speaker) as in She said it was hot. (female speaker)
      • Instead, write a comment asking for someone to add female speaker as a tag.
      • If you have tagging rights, then tag it yourself.
    • (by Mark Twain) as in If you tell the truth, you don't have to remember anything. (by Mark Twain)
      • Instead, write a comment asking for someone to add by Mark Twain as a tag.
      • If you have tagging rights, then tag it yourself.
  • Don't include special symbols like emoji (for example, ":-("), which are a graphical form of annotation.

Do not forget capitalization and punctuation.

  • Sentences should be written in the normal way that an educated native speaker would write them.

Make a good translation of the sentence that you are translating. Don't let translations into other languages influence you.

  • Your translation should be a good translation into your language and doesn't need to include all the nuances as translated by others into other languages.

Do not leave out diacritical marks if your language requires them.

  • For instance, if you're writing in Spanish, write razón rather than razon.

Do not transliterate. Write in the native script for the language.

  • For instance, if you're writing in Hindi, don't use Latin ("English") characters. Either set your computer's keyboard to Hindi or use a tool (such as Google's that converts from transliterated characters into Hindi.

Only adopt "orphan" sentences in your own native language.

  • Adopting is a way to give your "stamp of approval."
  • A "stamp of approval" by a native speaker means more, so that's why we have this guideline.

Do not change sentences that are correct.

  • Remember that even if a sentence sounds a bit unnatural to you, it may be correct in another dialect of your language, or in an older version of the language, so don't make changes unless you are 100% sure it is wrong.
  • In such a case, go to one of the linked sentences in a language you understand and contribute an alternate translation.

Only write sentences in recognized languages.

  • You can always write sentences in languages that are already supported by Tatoeba.
  • You can request a new language, provided that it has an ISO 639-3 (three-letter) code. See the details under How to Request a New Language.

Respond within two weeks to comments requesting action on your sentences.

  • If someone requests that you take action on one of your sentences (for instance, add a missing period), within two weeks you should either make the change or leave a comment explaining why you don't feel the change is necessary.
  • If you do not respond within two weeks, a corpus maintainer has the right to modify or delete your sentence.

Behave like mature adults.

  • Collaborative projects such as ours work best when people cooperate and get along with each other.
  • Read details: Rules Against Bad Behavior

Do not submit sentences that will antagonize contributors or readers.

Sentences in this category include but are not limited to those that:

  • attack or insult others due to their gender, ethnicity, color, sexual orientation, religion, political affiliation, or other membership in a group

  • attack or insult other Tatoeba contributors for whatever reason, such as a difference of opinion over what constitutes a legal sentence; such matters should be discussed elsewhere

  • attack or insult languages or countries

Do not submit sentences that refer to Tatoeba contributors or other real people who are not public figures.

This includes positive and neutral statements as well as negative ones. The idea is that people should be able to contribute to Tatoeba without surrendering their privacy, and readers should be able to understand sentences without insider information.

Do not intentionally add bad or confusing sentences in order to make a point.

  • For example: Unexpectedly saw the train first.

One could argue that this is a legal sentence if "Unexpectedly" is considered the name of a person. But in fact, this is not a likely name, and the sentence will probably confuse and mislead readers, especially if they are non-native.

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