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First, I have to point out that I'm very unexperienced in i18n issues
and my comments may be incorrect or just plain stupid. Or they may
address problems, which are not meant to be solved by SRFI-29.
I'm a bulgarian, so I'll give examples with bulgarian in mind, but I'll
try to make them as applicable to other languages as possible.
1) Words with many meanings:
In natural languages, some words have several meanings, and they should
be translated to different words in the ``destination'' language. E.g.
the english word ``free'' has two meanings, but in bulgarian they are
translated with different words. If it is translated by itself (that
is, not in the sentence) this can cause a problem.
The SRFI proposes the use of identifiers, rather than the word itself
(as proposed by Per Bothner) and I think that this is the better
approach, because we can have two different identifiers for the two
Unfortunately, the problem is deeper, because:
2) The natural languages are very different.
In bulgarian all nouns have gramatical gender, e.g. tables are "female",
chairs are "mail", porks are "neutral" and so on. (Don't know the
correct english grammar terms. sorry). This gramatical gender
transfroms all adjectives and adverbs, associated with the noun. The
same is true for single and plural.
That means that the same word or even sentence, with the same meaning,
can be translated in several ways, e.g.
"~a is beautiful" can be translated in 3 ways for single the gender + 1
for the plural = 4 different translations.
I don't know many other languages (some russian and english), but I
guess that there may be even more differences. Perhaps the only
sollution is to have a different identifier for each translation.