Locales should be stable but should never stand still

by Michael S. Kaplan, published on 2005/10/19 03:01 -04:00, original URI: http://blogs.msdn.com/b/michkap/archive/2005/10/19/481635.aspx

The title of this post is a definite nod to the Oliver Wendell Holmes, Jr., quote about the law.

And of course in the case of language, using it as a directive is about at the level of legislation that matches the value of Pi or the existence of gravity, or the US Congress voting to approve a deficit that exists independently of the law itself.

Because the truth is that language does change over time.

I was recently reading a post over on CorrecteurOrthographiqueOffice that talks about spelling reforms in French and their effect on the Proofing Tools in Office. It is easy to imagine critcism of the change from those who are not willing to recognize the importance of keeping the Proofing Tools relevant even if it does mean changes that will have an impact on people.

The same rules apply to locales and their data.

The fact is that when a locale captures the data of a place that becomes a part of the European Union, its currency symbol might change. And if it does then in order for the locale to remain relevant to the real world of life in that location, the currency symbol must also be updated.

This may break the parsing of older data that has different currency values in the .NET Framework, but this is why the CurrencySymbol property and other parts of the NumberFormatInfo class have properties that you as a developer can change in code that needs to parse such data. Because locales should be stable, but should never stand still....


This post brought to you by "" (U+20ac, a.k.a. EURO SIGN)

# Jonathan on 19 Oct 2005 5:13 AM:

So if Office Proofing tools do change, then you need to use older versions of Office to write pre-reform French? (Actually, get proofing tools to help you write correct pre-reform French).

# Michael S. Kaplan on 19 Oct 2005 7:57 AM:

Actually, if you look at the change details in the link, both forms are allowed (alternately, you can select one or the other if you prefer).

The harder problem is when changes like the German reforms happened since they made the old forms invalid....

# Ivan Petrov on 19 Oct 2005 8:10 AM:

<P>Hi Michael, sorry that I'm posting my message here, but the "Suggest a Topic!" box is not working, it does't allow me to post!!! So the question(s):(SNIPPED the suggestions -- I will fix up the suggestion box, which has expired)</P>

# Michael S. Kaplan on 19 Oct 2005 8:42 AM:

Ivan, you can post the suggestion at http://blogs.msdn.com/michkap/articles/482609.aspx but you probably will not be happy with the answer....

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