0.146 now installs the translation files. But it doesn't seem
to be doing anything with them, I can't get any translated output,
strace suggests it doesn't do anything with the locale.
It works for me:
$ LANG=es_ES ./src/ar tv /etc/motd
./src/ar: /etc/motd: no es un fichero de archivo
(This is with 0.146 also installed on the system using the same --prefix I
configured my build with, so the translations are there to be found.)
The actual runtime use of gettext et al is unconditional. There should be
nothing about how you build the programs and libraries that affects whether
you see (via strace or whatnot) it attempting to open any translations at
all. You should check on the calls to setlocale and bindtextdomain and see
what they are doing. My best guess is that your issue is with the locale
installation on your system.