That's not German, is it? (aka This kind of thing happens a lot...)

by Michael S. Kaplan, published on 2007/09/16 11:41 -04:00, original URI:

So the other day when I had my default user locale set to Fijian....

I then was looking into another bug.

That bug required me to set my user interface language to German.

This kind of thing happens a lot, as I am sure you can imagine. :-)

Anyway, it was set to German no problem:

And then I looked at my bug and verified that it had been fixed.

It had.

But I did not set anything back to the original settings, no sense. They are just going to change again some day, right?

This kind of things happens a lot.

But just then I noticed something interesting when I looked at the default user locale again:

Could that be German? It doesn't look much like German, does it?

No worries, it is not. :-)

It is the native name.

Here is the name info inside the Locale Builder:

You see, what is happening is a design decision that was made for custom locales.

Now when your user interface language is English, the language to show is a no-brainer -- we have the English version of the locale name built right in to the settings.

But when it's not, what should it be?

Now obviously we could make it English everywhere, just as Mike Williams how often that is the choice Microsoft makes. :-)

Thankfully, we thought about it a bit longer than that, and decided to show the native name in this case.

It is not going to just be English everywhere!

Of course this is still not the ideal solution (having a way to specify the data like locale name -- that is available localized in all of those other languages -- is. But that is not available yet, so in the meantime....

Not the worst possible idea, by any means, and a very nice compromise if you ask me.

Though I am guessing it still won't get the expense for a trip to Fiji approved despite the clear business need. :-)

Unfortunately, that kind of thing doesn't happen a lot....


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# Mike on 16 Sep 2007 2:29 PM:

My comments are not usually about the choice of English over other languages, but the way that English(US) locale trounces every other flavour of English in ways that make products less useful (to extremely frustrating) to customers outside of the USA.

That's not a technical problem, so much as a Microsoft cultural ( & testing ) problem,  and since the consequent bugs go unfixed for so long (like the one with IE7), and actually multiplying from year to year, I sometimes feel like dropping a copy of Nadine Kano's first MS Press book onto some people from a very great height. My feeling is that the issue is worse than it was than when I went to work for MS in 1993 (and got involved in internationalization issues within weeks of that).

There are indeed cases where English as a lingua franca is perforce a useful choice. I've just been reading through Google Groups' comments on the way that Google presents its language choices. Google thinks it is incredibly smart to show all languages ONLY in the language of the geophysical region that Google thinks you are in. This means it always ignores the user's account settings and client UI language.

To remedy the problem, you have to scan through a long list and work out which of those strings actually refers to your language. If it's English you want, you can often pick out something like Anglais or Inglish, but there are quite a few regions where I have a better chance of picking out Elmer Fudd than English. (And then I have to figure out which button to press to activate my choice...)

The ideal (for me) would be to show the list with each language in its native force: English, Francais, Deutsch, etc. Some people in those newsgroups have said they'd rather just always have a "Give me English!" choice regardless of the location, because it is the most likely choice of second language, especially if you are outside your home country. Once they're in English, they can triangulate back to the preferred language.

A general suggestion for MS would be to allow users to specify a "fallback" language at account setup time. I noticed in my travels through central-Eastern Europe, that German is the usual choice here. Although English makes inroads amongst the younger generation every day, for most people over 25, English is still a mystery.

Oh, and Fiji was lovely ;-).

# Michael S. Kaplan on 16 Sep 2007 2:39 PM:

Funny how you take the opportunity to go on about this in response to a post where I point out a case where Microsoft is specifically NOT doing this?

Ah well, you're nothing if not entirely predictable.... :-)

# Mike on 16 Sep 2007 3:52 PM:

Actually I

1. corrected your claim about what I usually talk about

2. provided a supporting example of why having English is a good thing

So I guess your kneejerk reaction illustrates my point about Microsoft not listening.

# Mihai on 16 Sep 2007 4:20 PM:

<<Google thinks it is incredibly smart to show all languages ONLY in the language of the geophysical region that Google thinks you are in. This means it always ignores the user's account settings and client UI language.>>

In my opinion this is far from smart, it is annoying.

Traveling to Europe I get all kind of languages that I don't under stand, ignoring my preference.


Rule number 1: respect your user!

# Michael S. Kaplan on 16 Sep 2007 4:40 PM:

But my post had little to do with either point really, Mike. Certainly not worth multiple unrelated paragraphs....

# Mike on 17 Sep 2007 4:07 AM:

If you are going to misrepresent me like this in print, then it's worth pointing that out. (2 of my paras)

If your post is not about using English vs using native names, then what is it about? (4 of my paras)

# Michael S. Kaplan on 17 Sep 2007 4:16 AM:

Actually, the post was about specific decision to use the NATIVE name for the locales, and not default to English when in doubt. This is something you have often criticized when an English default was chosen, and it is not misrepresentation to say that you don't like this.

I don't like it either, so we have that in common, for what it is worth....

# Mike on 17 Sep 2007 5:07 AM:

All I can see is that you are essentially saying its about "NATIVE vs English" rather than "English vs NATIVE"

So how does my 4 paras about "English vs NATIVE"/"NATIVE vs English" in this case have "little to do with" using "native name for the locales and not default to English"?

Also - please provide an EXACT references of such criticisms about English defaults, especially if you are going to personalize the issue (both in the post and subsequent comments). Since you have made prior references to NDA-covered discussions, you may refer to a spec document published and circulated by me in Windows division about 5yrs ago talking about the Region selection dialog, and language fallbacks (written to cover increasing usability issues with new language modalities such as speech and handwriting). That explains my position rather better.

# Michael S. Kaplan on 17 Sep 2007 10:19 AM:

As usual, you are 100% right and on-topic, and in truth you love when English is used as a DEFAULT any time it comes up. Completely my mistake for ever misunderstanding you on this....

And I have never seen your 5-year-old document and am not going ti try to dig it up and share it with anyone.

We're done here.

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