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Rules and Guidelines

The Best Ways to Help Us

  • Translate from a foreign language that you know well into your own native language or strongest language.

  • Add new, natural-sounding sentences in your own native language for others to translate into their native languages.

The Rules with Explanations

Write complete sentences.

  • Write sentences, not just isolated 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."

Write natural-sounding translations, not word-for-word direct translations.

  • Write sentences that a native speaker would actually use.
  • Avoid the awkward, unnatural-sounding translations seen in textbooks to help students understand how another language is constructed.
  • Remember that others will be using the translation that you make into your own language to study your language.

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

  • Your translation should be a good translation into your language. Translations into other languages may introduce interpretations that are not valid in your language.

Use correct capitalization and punctuation.

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

Do not add sentences from copyrighted sources.

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

Do not include multiple alternatives within the same sentence.

  • Don't include phrases like the following inside your sentences:
    • He/she as in He/she said it was hot.
      • Instead, you should submit one of the following sentences, or both:
        • He said it was hot.
        • She said it was hot.

Do not write extra information within the sentence. (Do not include annotations within sentences.)

  • Don't include information such as the name of the author within the sentence. Instead, add it as a tag or comment. For instance, don't write:
    • (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.
    • (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.
  • Don't include special symbols like emoji (for example, ":-(").

Use 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.

  • Sentences on taoteba.org that do not have an owner are referred to as "orphans."
  • 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.

  • Do not adopt a sentence and change it if it is already a correct sentence.
  • 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.
  • Remember that you need to be very careful when editing a sentence that has multiple translations, since a slight change may mean that not all of the linked translations will still match.
  • If you are not sure it is wrong, 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.

Do not add unnecessarily long contributions

If you wish to add several sentences as a single contribution, please make sure that these sentences really cannot be split without losing meaning or context.

If your set of sentences could be split into several contributions, then split it as much as possible.

Extremely lengthy contributions are much less likely to be useful not only because they are harder to process for a language learner, but also because they are much less likely to be translated.

How to Write Good Sentences

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Regular members can use this link to direct new members to this page.

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