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1 Introduction

This chapter explains the goals sought in the creation of GNU gettext and the free Translation Project. Then, it explains a few broad concepts around Native Language Support, and positions message translation with regard to other aspects of national and cultural variance, as they apply to programs. It also surveys those files used to convey the translations. It explains how the various tools interact in the initial generation of these files, and later, how the maintenance cycle should usually operate.

In this manual, we use he when speaking of the programmer or maintainer, she when speaking of the translator, and they when speaking of the installers or end users of the translated program. This is only a convenience for clarifying the documentation. It is absolutely not meant to imply that some roles are more appropriate to males or females. Besides, as you might guess, GNU gettext is meant to be useful for people using computers, whatever their sex, race, religion or nationality!

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