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

by Michael S. Kaplan, published on 2008/07/11 03:01 -04:00, original URI: http://blogs.msdn.com/b/michkap/archive/2008/07/11/8720420.aspx

A question came up the other day that some regular readers might find vaguely familiar:

We have been using the CultureInfo.CurrentUICulture to get the default UI language of the client OS. It works for locales like en-US (which is the default) and for other language locales like de-DE, es-ES, fr-FR, it-IT, ja-JP, ko-KR, pb-BR, ru-RU, zh-CN etc., but NOT getting the locales which are other flavours of English like en-AU etc., instead returning en-US in those cases.

The language locales are picked based on client operating system for the language or if not from the regional settings languages etc.,.

For example, if we set the locale en-AU everywhere in regional settings and in also in MS Office, its still picking up only en-US.

We are trying to get the locale from our Add-in in MS Office using the .NET 1.1.

Please throw some light on how we can get the locales which are other flavours of English.

Ah,. the hazard of being UICulture-based running on Microsoft products!

So maybe you remember one of the following blogs from the past:

and more.

The problem is the same -- despite the commonly known and understood fact that these various dialects are not all 100% mutually intelligible, companies like Microsoft, in an effort to save money, tries to enforce a single language version of many different products.

The exceptions to this are few and far between, e.g.:

And despite all the lip service (pun intended) that people pay to the need to support "local experiences", despite complaints from former MSFTies like Mike Williams or not-yet-quite-former MSFTies like me, despite the work of cartoons like Darby Conley's Get Fuzzy with the multitude of cats who visit from non-US English speaking places like Manchester that many can't understand and even more random references, no one thinks the problem is bad enough to bother with.

No one wants to "get" the problem here though.

When I think about the nightmares associated with time zones and all the brave efforts to fix longstanding problems that only were able to get traction when they directly impacted people at the executive level in Redmond, I wish some similar solution were possible here -- like localize all of Microsoft's products into UK English or even better Australian English and have these versions on the computers of every executive, technical fellow, and Distinguished Engineer at Microsoft.

How many days would they have to use products while they struggle to understand the words before it would become a mandate to care about local experiences in all of the other places that English, Spanish, French, German, Italian, Chinese, etc. are spoken besides the few places we localize to....

But to be honest I don't see how it could be accomplished. And since no one gets made an executive by finding ways to have stuff cost more money, the problem perpetuates itself.


This blog brought to you by z (U+007a, aka LATIN SMALL LETTER Z)

# English Bloke on 11 Jul 2008 7:56 AM:

"UK English" Surely you mean "English" or "real English".

"non-US English"? Surely nou mean "other dialects of English other than Amglish".

The US-prejudiced way you write show that you are part of the problem, not the solution.

You could start setting an example by writing in English instead of Amglish.

# John Cowan on 11 Jul 2008 11:40 AM:

You should have called it LATIN SMALL LETTER ZED.

# Michael S. Kaplan on 11 Jul 2008 12:09 PM:

Hello English Bloke,

I speak English and I live in America. It would not only be dishonest of me to try to write any other way, it would also be inadequate, since I lack the full knowledge to do the job convincingly that only someone who lives and speaks it can hope to do.

If you think having an advocate such as myself to have the issue resolved is PART OF THE PROBLEM, then I would respect fully suggest that you do not understand the real problem, which is getting executives to recognize the importance of the scenario.

# Michael S. Kaplan on 11 Jul 2008 12:10 PM:

Hey John!

I was actually tempted to do something along those lines but I have been trying to keep the Unicode names from the UCD. :-)

# PinkDuck on 8 Jun 2009 12:02 PM:

The way I see the problem is that Microsoft is unwilling to outsource translation to people who are willing to do it (and maintain it) for free.

The percentage difference between US and UK English in the Windows desktop shell is pretty small, but the occasional 'canceled' here, 'dialed' there, 'color' or 'gray' add up to a significant irritant (even offence) to a British user, especially when other mutually intelligible language variations have been handled.

# Eric TF Bat on 8 Jun 2009 8:42 PM:

I think the trick is to produce a localised version called English (Expletive), code name en-#*$!.  It would replace the standard File menu with Sh*t (as in "this is where I put all my sh*t"), Edit with F*ck (as in "this is how I f*ck with all my sh*t"), Help with What The F*ck, and so on.  Unfortunately, the words Sh*t and F*ck are so versatile (adjective, noun, verb, ad infinitum) that most of the menus and options would consist of those two words in various permutations, and the result would be unintelligible.  But very localised!  (Sorry, localized.)

# Ian Thomas on 9 Jun 2009 8:48 AM:

RE: English Bloke

I disagree. English is a term that can be used to cover all varients of English. If you specially mean the version of English spoken in the UK then you need to specify that somehow, and

In the case where Michael has said "Non-US English" he means varients of English including British English (such as his example of Manchester) but specifically excluding American English. Your alternative phrase just seems to be an expansion of Michael's phrase:

non = other dialects of

English = English

US = other than Amglish

In the case where he says "UK English" he is just being explict about what he means.


Another English Bloke

# Ian Thomas on 9 Jun 2009 8:52 AM:

The example of this that always annoys me is the Windows install process (certainly 95 - XP, I'm not sure if Vista is better).

I have to change my keyboard, language AND timezone from their US defaults. Why can't it just ask me where I am located, with no default, and then default the others based on that?

This is particularly annoying when you have a lazy IT department who don't bother to change any of these settings during the install, which means that you are then forced to use a computer with American settings (and normally unable to fix them due to security policies).

# Michael on 9 Jun 2009 9:53 AM:

PinkDuck - Free != Quality. Also, anybody truly offended by the spelling of a few words here and there (while technically correct, since the company producing the software is based in the United States, and spell checks according to rules there) needs to lighten up.

English Bloke - The way we learn make requests in America, correct diction or no, is not by insulting the person (yea, even their native manner of speaking) to whom you are speaking. Verily.

# Anonymous Coward on 9 Jun 2009 10:22 AM:

Your sense of humour and courage to dissent are impeccable.

# Michael S. Kaplan on 9 Jun 2009 11:49 AM:

Ian Thomas -- The Vista case is a little bit better now.

AC -- Irony for an AC to say those things, huh? :-)

# Ricardo Santos on 9 Jun 2009 3:32 PM:

Hi, I'm a Portuguese (Europe) native, and I can relate to this. But as you know, in our case, It has been solved, we do have a pt-PT and a pt-BR variant. And how do we, a simple 9,5 million potencial windows users, got such a gift from microsoft, since Brazilians are dozens times more!? Simple: there really is a difference, and we are mutually unable to use eachother's version in a pratical sence.

But you see, there also a few other millions out there that are portuguese speakers, like Angola, Mozambique, Cabo Verde, Guiné-Bissau, etc. And combined, they are way over our 10 m also.

But they're stuck with either our version ou the BR version. And that, well, sucks!

If the issue will only be solved when there are 'softies high enough in MS piramid that are disturbed by this, well, I guess it's going to take a very long, long time.

But I keep seeing another reason: money, good old green.

And then the obvious is there:

European Portuguese represents the "mother" of a language spoken across the world and plays an important role on it.

Brazil represents a motherload of cash, with it's almost 200 million potencial users. And they can't use the existing european in any pratical daily way.

And the rest are African nations that don't represent a lot of cash at this stage.

I have a feeling that somewhere down the road, if Angola keeps turning itself onto a fully developed nation and decides that my portuguese version of windows no longer suits them, we'll see a new variant rise: pt-AO

And if that happens, you can bet the money will be the drive, not the differences in language.

My point? if that pesky en-US version of windows would prevent Microsoft from making money from all you english speakers out there, the variants would exist for any sizeable market, with or without any 'softie execs disturbed about it.

Varun Madiath on 22 Jul 2009 6:56 AM:

Well, to someone who actually tries to type documents out in a software like MS word, this turns out to be a really big problem. You see, documents that are written often have to be given in for publication or as reports to other people.

The problem with the 2003 version of office is that it ignores spellings like program, which are not acceptable in an organization that uses British English exclusively. It turns out that this is a big problem. While changing the language to use English (U.K) helps the problem slightly, the fact of the matter is that it still chooses to ignore spellings like organize and regconize which should be spelt as organise and recognise.

Tragic, but true.

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