Agile Manifesto Chinese Translation

At Agile 2010, I shared an airport shuttle bus with Henrik Kniberg and César Idrovo Carrillo, the organizers of the manifesto translation project. They told me some stories about their efforts to bring Agile to their communities.

In return, I would like to take this opportunity to share my own account as a contributor to the traditional Chinese translation.

I was first introduced to the project through my mentor, Doug Bradbury, while I was still apprenticing at 8th Light. Chinese translation did not take off until a month later when a Chinese coach joined the team. More and more Chinese translators have joined since then and eventually a team was formed to specialize in traditional Chinese.

The traditional Chinese team is led by Steven Mak (Hong Kong) and Chris Torng (Taiwan). Steven serves as our advisor and contact with Henrik while Chris is in charge of leading and coordinating the project. We mainly collaborate with the Taiwan Scrum group on Facebook and have made many significant changes based on their suggestions.

Beginnings

We began our work in May 2010 and released our final draft on November 19th of the same year. Specifically, we translated the four Agile values and twelve principles into traditional Chinese for people in Hong Kong, Macau, Taiwan, and many oversea Chinese communities to read in the comfort of their native language and orthography.

Many of the problems that we faced arose from the absence of cognate words in the two languages. Instead, we were forced into translating the terms in a looser manner than we had hoped. This caused us to question whether working software is software able to be compiled, functional, or usable.

We also wondered whether the art of minimizing the work done is a fine art or skill, and whether the work not done is work in progress or work with less business value. As translators, our main concerns are not to force our interpretation onto readers before they can form their own opinions or, worse, to offer a misleading interpretation.

Chris started collecting all the official and unofficial existing translated documents on the manifesto. We also received consent from the Chinese translators of Agile Software Development, Principles, Patterns, and Practices to use their work. By bringing together all the references we could find, we were able to achieve a translation of a quality we were all satisfied with.

Looking Back

In retrospect, there were a few things we could have done or avoided to make the project continue in a smoother manner. It took more time than I had hoped to get the project off ground initially. In particular, it was tedious to establish the distinctiveness of traditional Chinese.

I also felt that it was hard to set a timeline for the project based on everyone’s work schedules. This was, perhaps, inevitable because of the nature of volunteering work and other obligations such as our jobs.

Overall, despite the small drawbacks the project was very successful. I believe the manifesto along with the many great conversations that we incepted will benefit the future development of Agile practices in traditional Chinese communities.

Special Thanks

Finally, I would like to thank everyone I mentioned above and list here for contributing to this project in various ways: Aska Lee, Kc Chao, David Ko, Wen-Hsiao Lee, and the rest of Scrum Community in Taiwan. And Kimberly Sheen of Ave Maria University’s Canizaro Library for editing this article.

If you are interested in learning more about the project, see:

Li-Hsuan Lung enjoys reading, writing, and translating between Chinese and English and is part of the ongoing effort to bring the Agile Manifesto to a Chinese audience.