Some documentations is having troubles with theirs pluralizations syntaxes

by Michael S. Kaplan, published on 2007/08/14 00:01 -04:00, original URI:

Johannes Rössel posted in the Suggestion Box:

The Windows Vista User Experience Guidelines state in the section »Dialog boxes« ( the following:

    Be grammatically correct. Use singular units when the number is one. 
    1 minutes, 1 seconds

This most likely works not in all languages as you pointed out in »Pluralization(s) can be singularly difficult« and some commenters in other places, too. I know this blog is likely no authorative or official opinion of Microsoft but this problem with foreign languages should be known and the team that wrote the UX Guidelines should possibly know about it.

At least, I hope so.

Is this possibly just meant for English language versions? Or is the UX team completely unaware of this issue?

Johannes is entirely correct here,to a point, It was clearly written by someone who is unaware of this issue, but it would unfair to say the whole team is that way. I know not all of them are because I have discussed this very issue with some of them in the past!

And besides, as I have said before, Pluralization(s) can be singularly difficult, even if not everyone knows it....

Now this is not the sort of thing best solved by localization, since translating to the specific rules in another language does not help with all the other languages, either!

Even if this was not the case, English is one of those languages that has to be aware of the world,. something that is true of any languge commonly used by native speakers of non-covered languages.

Plus machine translation is not going to make a dent in this kind of conceptual localization need, anyway. And not all localizers are linguists (in fact, most are not!).

It is fair to say that there are other items here that do not all make sense in every language, enough so that a review by people who do understand better the issues with properly internationalized documentation would be a very good thing -- for all of the topics....


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Mike on 14 Aug 2007 7:46 AM:

"English is one of those languages that has to be aware of the world" even if US English SKUs are unaware of English spoken in other countries...

Michael S. Kaplan on 14 Aug 2007 9:11 AM:

Somehow I knew where the first comment would come from. :-)

Mike on 14 Aug 2007 10:57 AM:

The other bit I meant to write (which you probably predicted), is that US English has certain unique grammatical features (e.g. handling of mass nouns, constructions like "visit with", ...) that find their way into MS documentation and UI. In most cases there is a way to phrase such sentences so that they read well for US and non-US English audiences, and remove possible ambiguities. UX people I've bugged such items with have well, "cared less" than if the bug was for a language completely other than English.

Michael S. Kaplan on 14 Aug 2007 12:13 PM:

Examples, Mike? :-)

Mike on 15 Aug 2007 4:19 AM:

I wish I had access to RAID right now...

Michael S. Kaplan on 15 Aug 2007 11:38 AM:

We make our beds, we lie in them, right? :-)

Of course many of those RAID databases have been decomissioned. Name a few keywords and I'll try to look a bit....

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