Back Translations

Kevin Scannell edited this page Jul 19, 2013 · 18 revisions

Some of the messages in Facebook may be difficult to translate into your language. For example, many indigenous languages lack terminology for Western concepts like “Privacy” or “Advertising”. Or sometimes it’s just not clear exactly what the English means, like “Change Cover”. When I’m stuck on a translation, I find it useful to see how other languages have dealt with it. If you speak French or Spanish, you can check out those translation files (French and Spanish), but I also believe it’s important to look at languages other than English, French, and Spanish for the right metaphors. Because you may not speak Irish, or Nawat, or Chichewa, I’ve placed “back translations” (into English) of certain translations of the trickier Facebook strings below. If you have clever translation solutions you’d like to share with other indigenous language groups, I’d love to include them below!

1 mutual friend

  • French/Spanish/Ligurian: “1 friend in common”
  • Irish/Scots Gaelic: “1 co-friend”
  • Chichewa: “1 acquaintance”

Account Settings

  • French: “Parameters of the account”
  • Gundjeihmi: “fix/make those things relating to you”
  • Spanish: “Configuration of the account”
  • Chichewa: “About your camp”

Activity Log

  • French: “Personal history”
  • Gundjeihmi: “What have you been doing”
  • Irish: “Activity history”
  • Nawat: “See what has happened”
  • Spanish: “Record of activity”
  • Chichewa: “Frequent activities”

Add Friend

  • French: “Add”
  • Gundjeihmi: “Put a name”
  • Irish: “Make Friends”, lit. “Do Friendship”
  • Spanish: “Add to my friends”
  • Chichewa: “Add your friend”

Add Photo / Video

  • Gundjeihmi: “Put an image”
  • Chichewa: “Put a picture/cinema”


  • Gundjeihmi: “They purchase (things)”
  • Chichewa: “Merchandise”

a few seconds ago

  • Nawat: “just now”


  • Gundjeihmi: “Other things they play with”
  • Chichewa: “Plug-in things”


  • Chichewa/Nawat: “Jobs”
  • Gundjeihmi: “(You) work”

Change Cover

  • Gundjeihmi: “Delete the image and place another one”
  • Irish/Nawat: “Change the big picture”
  • Chichewa: “Change over-cover”


  • French: “Instant Discussion”
  • Gundjeihmi: “Send each other talk”
  • Irish: “Conversation”
  • Ligurian: “Gossip”
  • Chichewa: “Talks”
  • Wiradjuri: “Big Talk”

Close Friends

  • Chichewa/Spanish: “Best Friends”
  • Gundjeihmi: “We who sit close”
  • Nawat: “Your good friends”


  • Gundjeihmi: “Put talk/a message”
  • Nawat: “Talk about it”
  • Scots Gaelic: “Opinion”
  • Chichewa: “Put a comment”


  • Nawat: “Accept as your friend”
  • Chichewa: “Accept Friendship”

Create an Ad

  • Gundjeihmi: “Make it so people can buy (something)”
  • Chichewa: “Put your Merchandise”

Create a Page

  • Gundjeihmi: “Make something else/another”
  • Chichewa: “Create your paper”

Create Group…

  • Gundjeihmi: “Make it so that you all speak together”
  • Chichewa: “Create a group …”


  • Nawat: “Who made this”
  • Chichewa: “Experts”

%d shares

  • Irish/Scots Gaelic: “Shared %d times”
  • Nawat: “%d people have shared this”

Edit Options

  • Gundjeihmi: “(You) hide talk/language”
  • Chichewa: “Change your settings”

Enter a friend’s name or email address

  • Secwepemctsín: “Write a name here”
  • Chichewa: “Enter the name of your friend or the address for the web”


  • Gundjeihmi: “We remind/notify each other”


  • Gundjeihmi: “Things you really like”
  • Chichewa: “Interesting things”

Find Friends

  • Gundjeihmi: “Find people”
  • Chichewa: “Find your friends”

Friend Requests

  • Gundjeihmi: “Those who are asking you to place their names”
  • Chichewa: “Asking Friendship”
  • Wiradjuri: “Be my friend”


  • Gundjeihmi: “Those you know”
  • Chichewa: “Your Friends”

Friends On Chat

  • French: “Present friends”
  • Irish: “Friends on line”
  • Ligurian: “Friends who make gossip”
  • Nawat: “Your friends who are [there] now”
  • Spanish: “Connected friends”
  • Chichewa: “Your Friends on the bridge/link”

Friend Requests

  • French: “Requests to add to the list of friends”
  • Irish/Spanish/Scots Gaelic: “Friendship Requests”
  • Chichewa: “Asking Friendship”


  • French: “Reception”
  • Irish: “Home” (hometown, not “house”)
  • Spanish: “Start/Initiation”
  • Chichewa: “Arena”

Life Event

  • French: “Prominent event/milestone”
  • Gundjeihmi: “things that have happened in the past relating to you”
  • Spanish: “Important event”
  • Wiradjuri: “A Happening”
  • Chichewa: “Events in Life”


  • Gundjeihmi: “That which I like”
  • Chichewa: “Favourables”

Like This Page

  • Secwepemctsín/Wiradjuri: “Like This Paper”


  • Irish: “Link (as in a chain)”
  • Chichewa: “Bridge”
  • Wiradjuri: “Joining”

Log Out

  • French: “Disconnect”
  • Ligurian: “Go out”
  • Spanish: “Leave”
  • Scots Gaelic: “Register out”


  • Gundjeihmi: “An image about places”

Mobile Uploads

  • Ligurian: “Uploads from little phone”
  • Nawat: “With a cell phone”
  • Spanish: “Photos submitted with the cell phone”


  • Gundjeihmi: “Other it keeps going”

Most Recent

  • Nawat: “New things that they have said”

News Feed

  • French: “News wire”
  • Gundjeihmi: “They are discussing stories [and] talk/news”
  • Spanish: “News”
  • Scots Gaelic: “News stream”

People who like this

  • Gundjeihmi: “The names of those who like this”


  • Wiradjuri: “Likeness”


  • Nawat: “Who has poked you”


  • Ligurian: “declaration”
  • Nawat: “what they have said”


  • Gundjeihmi: “If sometimes you don’t want them to see”
  • Nawat: “Secrets”

Privacy Settings

  • Gundjeihmi: “Fix/make it so they can’t see”
  • Nawat: “Your Secrets”


  • Gundjeihmi: “Just (all about) me”
  • Irish: “Little life story”

Recent Activity

  • Gundjeihmi: “What have you done/just been doing”

Recommended Pages

  • Nawat: “You may also like”

Remove Preview

  • Nawat: “Take away the first vision”


  • Gundjeihmi: “Make it big and small”
  • Irish/Spanish: “Change Size”
  • Nawat: “Make it bigger/smaller”

See Friendship

  • French: “See the links of friendship”
  • Ligurian: “Friendship details”
  • Nawat: “What they have chatted about”
  • Scots Gaelic: “the connection between you”

See Translation

  • Gundjeihmi: “See the language turned”
  • Nawat: “Translate into another language”


  • Gundjeihmi: “They can see all of your talk”


  • French: “Commercial link”
  • Ligurian: “Advertising”
  • Nawat: “Paid-for things”
  • Scots Gaelic: “Encouraged”
  • Spanish: “Advertisements”


  • Nawat: “What’s up”
  • Scots Gaelic/Wiradjuri: “News”


  • Nawat: “What he/she receives”

Tag Friends

  • French: “Identify friends”
  • Irish: “Put a tag on friends”
  • Nawat: “Name your friends”
  • Spanish: “Label Friends”


  • French: “Conditions of use”
  • Spanish: “Conditions”


  • French: “Telex”
  • Irish: “Live News”
  • Nawat: “All the new things”
  • Spanish: “Instant Information”


  • French: “Journal”
  • Gundjeihmi: “The sun/time is sticking to itself”
  • Irish: Compound word like English: “Time+Line”
  • Nawat: “What-when”
  • Spanish: “Biography”

Top Stories

  • Irish: Compound word: “Top+Stories”
  • Ligurian: “Nicest stories”
  • Nawat: “Some things they have said”
  • Spanish: “Featured stories”


  • French/Ligurian: “I don’t like anymore”
  • Hiligaynon: “Oh, this is not nice after all”
  • Irish: “I don’t like it”
  • Scots Gaelic: “Not like anymore”
  • Spanish: “I don’t like”

Update Info

  • French/Ligurian: “Refresh my information”
  • Nawat: “Change what you have said about yourself”

Update Status

  • Irish: “New status”
  • Nawat: “Change what’s up”
  • Scots Gaelic: “What’s your news?”

What’s on your mind?

  • French: “Express yourself”
  • Irish: “Any news?” A typical greeting, like “What’s up?”
  • Ligurian: “And what do you have in that head?”
  • Spanish: “What are you thinking?”

Write a comment…

  • Irish: “Write something…”
  • Nawat: “Say something about it…”
  • Scots Gaelic: “Place an opinion”
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