We're back and we're embarrassing ourselves? (aka Making your localizer's life easier, Part 2)

by Michael S. Kaplan, published on 2008/02/21 10:16 -05:00, original URI: http://blogs.msdn.com/b/michkap/archive/2008/02/21/7837478.aspx

I know regular readers have been waiting impatiently with the next post to the series after How many ways can a developer say 'File Not Found?' (aka Making your localizer's life easier, Part 1)....

Yesterday, Larry Osterman had a pretty funny blog entitled "We're back and...".

And it is pretty funny when a T-Shirt slogan like

Lan Manager... We're back and we're BAD.

gets translated to the other language equivalent of

Lan Manager... We're back and we're not very good".

and to stop for a moment to take a joke and make it decidedly unfunny by dissecting it, there is an important lesson in localization to be learned here.

the problem is simply stated, and I'll add a bit to it so that items that you may yourself be guilty of can show up in the list:

Avoid colloquial words and phrases, and minimize the use of abbreviations and acronyms

Here are some great negative examples that have been purported to have ended up having localizers needing to do something with them:

Interestingly, just like as in Part 1, the advice is also a recommendation for the original pre-localized product as well -- too much of this is likely to be hard for regular users of the unlocalized product and there are often strict guidelines in both user interfaces and documentation guiding behavior here.

But geeks will be geeks, and it is a constant battle to get the right results.

And the guidelines themselves often fail to assist: for example, in documentation on the first occurrence of an acronym one is expected to spell out the acronym. But if one finds GDI confusing one is unlikely to find GRAPHICS DEVICE INTERFACE to be the magical road to understanding. In fact, the guidelines can often increase confusion!

The T-Shirt is a great example of what localization can add to the mix when it is entirely possible for a localizer to either "not understand the text" or "miss the joke", and the results can be less than stellar.

Though admittedly quite hilarious (when not dangerous!).

(Hat tip to the three people who sent me the link to Larry's blog between midnight and five in the morning, all several hours after most of this blog had been written!)


This post brought to you by(U+2322, aka FROWN)

# Mike Dimmick on 21 Feb 2008 11:51 AM:

I've seen acronyms expanded out incorrectly, when ambiguous, in KB articles and white papers. Presumably an editor went through and expanded the acronym, but expanded it to the wrong thing and didn't verify with the original author!

I'm trying, but failing, to think of an example. It referenced entirely the wrong technology, though.

# Centaur on 21 Feb 2008 12:30 PM:

Sometimes I wish there were an en-x-geek locale and localization. Which would have a sensible (ISO 8601) date format and speak of files, directories, drives and servers rather than documents, folders, shelves and bookcases. And which would not attempt to hide the substance behind user-friendly messages (“Proxy connection refused” vs “The page cannot be displayed”).

# Michael S. Kaplan on 21 Feb 2008 12:50 PM:

That (unfortunately) is the "expert mode" problem....

# Aaron Margosis on 21 Feb 2008 8:12 PM:

Mr. Dimmick - here's a good example:


# Gwyn on 21 Feb 2008 8:53 PM:

I wonder what an expression like "We suck less" would translate out to

# Michael S. Kaplan on 22 Feb 2008 6:34 AM:

I don't want to always blame the editor for not talking to the original author, since not all acronyms are known to all people -- the author might have no idea and simply assume the change was correct! :-)

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referenced by

2012/09/06 yuavtxhawbpabraukojsawv yuavntxivzograukoj mus {my first thought? I'm loving it!}

2011/03/19 Lack of confidence in a feature can keep me from installng it. Oh yeah, a BSOD can, too.

2010/02/28 Silly money equivalency games work both ways (aka Making your localizer's life easier, Part 3)

2009/04/07 Double Bite Character Set

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