I have been following this thread and here is a fix that works. Just remember that if you upgrade your Moodle installation you might have to go back and do these fixes again.
First, you do have to get into the database and change the length of the course short name field. This is very easy to do with PHPmyadmin (often your host will provide some way to directly edit MySQL tables in their control panel). The table you want to modify is "course" (or "mdl_course", if you used the default database setup from the Moodle installer).
In PHPmyadmin click on "structure" to get the list of fields. Click on the "shortname" field and click on the pencil icon (modify).
On the next screen change the length of the field to whatever value you want (e.g. 254 should cover 3 languages).
Now you need to modify line 72 of the edit_form.php script that is located in the /course directory to match:
addElement('text','shortname', get_string('shortname'),'maxlength="254" size="50"');
Note here the display size of the field (size="50") will appear to be the same length on the screen as the coursename field just above it on the course edit page.
Hope this helps!