They speak English in other places, too

by Michael S. Kaplan, published on 2006/09/12 00:21 -07:00, original URI:

Charles Bocock asked in the Suggestion Box:

How about an article covering the lack of an English version of Windows?

Obviously it sounds like I'm making a joke, but one day I hope to wake up, boot my PC and be able to browse my "FavoUrites" and adjust my "ColoUr Quality".

Do you think that will ever happen?

There has to be 100m+ English speakers of different sorts that use the extra "U" in words. As a compromise, you can keep the "z"s in place of "s"s as they are actually the formal standard (as per OED).

Well, this is technically a topic I have covered before, in posts like Using full locales rather than the neutral ones? and About that Portuguese localization question... and It speaks my language (well, almost!) and It's in Spanish? What kind?, just to name a few.

This post might be a good time to re-read my disclaimer text, but I honestly think it truly sucks that we handle things this way. Ever. Folks go on and on about providing "local experiences" yet we do this to language communities that we know we do not fully reach in a personal way? I guess the irony does not occur to them.

I enjoy every time little UK-isms end up in the Windows product. Like for example the Uniscribe API function ScriptStringAnalyse. :-)

Maybe it is just the rebel in me, but I wish there were more of those. I know there have been from time to time, though usually it gets treated like a bug and fixed, it is only like those Win32 API functions where changes can't happen....

So Charles, I do not know when it may happen. But I really think it ought to!

Now in an upcoming article I'll be talking about a particular aspect of the problem -- the US keyboard that seems to end up everywhere.:-)


This post is brought to you by u (U+0075, a.k.a. LATIN SMALL LETTER U)

# Dean Harding on Tuesday, September 12, 2006 3:53 AM:

If Firefox can do it, so can Windows! There's an en-GB version of Firefox that actually spells it "Colours" and so on! :-)

# oresama on Tuesday, September 12, 2006 4:08 AM:

How about allowing custom localizations?
Let the public translate and apply their own localization strings.
Enable a fallback to the default language for resources unavailable.
This would allow people unsatisfied with the current offerings to actively work towards a solution.

I am not too happy with much of the text chosen for the Japanese localization. It reads like a translation, which of course it is, but at the same time it is unnatural and difficult to interpret without English ability.

Open it up to the community a little.
I know Windows supports the MUI packs, so installing new resources should be possible.

# Nick Lamb on Tuesday, September 12, 2006 5:11 AM:

Firefox is Free Software, Dean. So if just one person wants Firefox in English they can make it happen (actually the en-GB translation seems to be the work of at least two or three people). And as it happens Firefox also uses plain text messages and declarative (not simply pixel based) layout, so it's much easier to translate than Windows.

Rather than pushing for official support of en-GB it would be more productive for Michael or GIFT to "open it all up and get out of the way" by creating and maintaining the tools for anyone to translate Windows and distribute the resulting language packs as they see fit.

# Michael S. Kaplan on Tuesday, September 12, 2006 10:22 AM:

And were I Corporate Vice President in Change of Doing Crap that I Felt was Important, I would probably be championing such an effort, given my mandate about opening it all up and getting out of the way. :-)

In the meantime all I can do is keep the pressure on here, and internally. And keep going until that VP hears me....

# Maurits on Tuesday, September 12, 2006 10:30 AM:

Ironically ScriptStringAnalyse calls ScriptItemize.

# Ben Cooke on Tuesday, September 12, 2006 5:55 PM:

Strangely enough, despite the fact that I'm English and I work for a software development company in England that sells software primarily to English companies, I still tend to use "color" and "center" in my source code and APIs. (The UI and other customer-facing bits are in British English, of course.)

I guess I've just given in to the fact that the US has ended up "owning" the English used in software, so rather than have the confusion about whether this API function is called getColour or getColor, I just stick to the US English and then it doesn't matter whether it's a function I've developed or a function provided by the framework.

Of course, this hasn't worked out so well in practice because there are other developers that are adamant about using British English because they begrudge the US dominance over software, so the problem now becomes whether it was written by me or written by one of our resident National Snobs.

# Paul Morriss on Wednesday, September 13, 2006 9:14 AM:

In my non-work blog ( I noted that Gtalk is localised for the UK

I can't remember ever seeing a UK localisation, apart from the PC keyboard, before that, which is why I remarked on it. For years the Microsoft website had an English (Canada) option but not English (UK). What's the difference between Canadian and American English? Apart from the accent of course.

# AC on Wednesday, September 13, 2006 10:10 AM:

"What's the difference between Canadian and American English? Apart from the accent of course."

Accent? What are you talking aboot? :)

# Michael S. Kaplan on Wednesday, September 13, 2006 10:12 AM:

Canadian English vs. American English. There is no difference, ay.

Oh wait, I guess there is, ay.


# Maurits on Wednesday, September 13, 2006 11:11 AM:

LOL @ "thus".

Jolly good show, what?

# John Cowan on Friday, July 11, 2008 11:39 AM:

Canadian English uses "tire" and "centre", as opposed to US "tire" and "center" and UK "tyre" and "centre".  (To a Brit, of course, a "tire centre" would be a place where you'd go in order to get tired.)

# Harry Jones on Tuesday, August 05, 2008 1:35 PM:

I totally agree with you, I think that windows should be in English English, not whatever language it's in now!

Or the least they could do is make it so that we can change the dictionary to English. So we can look at our favoUrites and adjust the coloUr quality and seek help at the help centRE!!

referenced by

2008/07/11 What kind of English were you looking for? We only seem to have one in stock....

2006/10/13 Local experiences in Norway: the Nynorsk LIP!

2006/09/22 Those letters are stripping off their diacritics in public again, the sluts!

go to newer or older post, or back to index or month or day