[sword-devel] Translators' workarounds for Guillemets in USFM files

Jonathan Marsden jmarsden at fastmail.fm
Thu Jun 11 13:33:18 MST 2009

David Haslam wrote:

> Some Bible translators use a workaround when editing USFM files for
> locations where they would otherwise have used 
> http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Guillemets Guillemets .
> They sometimes type "<<" in place of "«" and ">>" in place of "»".
> Likewise, they may type "<" in place of "‹" and ">" in place of "›".
> Does anyone in CrossWire know whether the SFM to OSIS conversion tools
> (either CrossWire's script or the Snowfall Software program) make any
> attempt at recognizing this, and performing the conversion "intelligently" ?

I don't see any obvious attempt to do this kind of thing in the 
usfm2osis.pl script.  I downloaded it from 
ftp://crosswire.org/pub/sword/utils/perl/usfm2osis.pl (foud by a Google 
search) and the script itself says it is version 1.4.

Perhaps a "better" place for such conversion could be at the point of 
saving or exporting the SFM files in Bibledit (or whatever USFM editing 
tool is in use).  This would allow the software concerned to prompt the 
translator to confirm their intent to use guillemets, rather than making 
possibly incorrect assumptions in a batch conversion tool after the 
fact, which might even be being run by someone other than the translator 
concerned and who therefore might not know the translators original 
intent, even if prompted about it.  Furthermore, the question itself at 
save time could (hopefully) act as a training tool, so that the 
translator would in future learn to use real guillemets while editing.

Might it be practical (and helpful) to ask Teus to add this kind of a 
check when saving or exporting to SFM, to Bibledit?  Similar enhancement 
requests could be made against other USFM editing tools, too.

Not entirely incidentally... is there a reason that the usfm2osis.pl 
script is not distributed as part of the SWORD source tarball?  Is there 
any reason *not* to add it to future Debian/Ubuntu sword packages, so 
people using SWORD (and its osis2mod utility) from packages have an easy 
way to obtain and use the usfm2osis.pl script too?


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