Many computer systems are based on various types of messages, forms, or other objects. When users of such systems need to communicate with people who use different object types, some kind of translation is necessary. In this paper, we explore the space of general solutions to this translation problem and propose a scheme that synthesizes these solutions. After first illustrating the problem in the Object Lens system, we identify two partly conflicting objectives that any translation scheme should satisfy: preservation of meaning and autonomous evolution of group languages. Then we partition the space of possible solutions to this problem in terms of the set theoretic relations between group languages and a common language. This leads to five primary solution classes and we illustrate and evaluate each one. Finally, we describe a composite scheme, called Partially Shared Views, that combines many of the best features of the other schemes. A key insight of the analysis is that partially shared type hierarchies allow “foreign” object types to be automatically translated into their nearest common “ancestor” types. The partial interoperability attained in this way makes possible flexible standards from which people can benefit from whatever agreements they do have without having to agree on everything. Even though our examples deal primarily with extensions to the Object Lens system, the analysis also suggests how other kinds of systems, such as EDI applications, might exploit specialization hierarchies of object types to simplify the translation problem.