Is this blog safe for work? (aka Sometimes you gotta say 'What the rżne!')

by Michael S. Kaplan, published on 2009/08/27 10:01 -04:00, original URI:

Although Microsoft tries to be more transparent and give people more ways than ever to contact them, not all of those methods include the formal training of the handoff.

Now the handoff is very important because in many or possibly even most cases, the first Microsoft person that a customer contacts is not the one who can best answer the question.

In those cases, he or she has to get the customer in touch with some other person.

And the handoff is the process whereby the contact with that other person happens.

At a conference this means walking the customer to the right person and introducing them, rather than vaguely pointing off in some direction. And by email it is staying on the email thread long enough to make sure that the other person has picked up the issue.

The goal? To make sure that the issue is not dropped.

All of this is background. So now the blog can start....

The story started, as it often does, with an email. This email was from someone inside of Microsoft, and went like this:

The translation of “Misc” in PropertyGrid to Polish on Windows 7 pl-pl (.NET 3.5) is sexually explicit.

The screenshot of the property sheet in question was:

Sexually explicit property sheet 

I suppose it helps if you know Polish. Obviously this would eventually be put in front of some Polish localizer who would see the issue and not need the details spelled out explicitly. Though it might have helped the triaging so that people would know how urgently to make that happen to have it spelled a tad more explicitly.

In tis case, it was not needed.

Because the issue sounded eerily familiar to me.

Ah yes, here it is: a Connect item titled Translation Request - PropertyGridView. Added nearly a year prior.

You can read more about the details there, basically the term


which means "miscellaneous" was abbreviated by removing that middle vowel, making it


which in Polish is suggestive of a word for fuck (I am pretty sure the literal meeting is more like sundry after talking with a few people, rather than something sexually explicit, though I know of many words in English that can fall into the same trap).

The fact that two different Polish-speaking people reported it suggests that this may be an issue to look into, at least.


Or maybe Rżne!

Of course the real oops was that the bug had been sitting there for almost a year and no one noticed that apparently the handoff had been dropped, and no one owned the issue....

The customer correctly realized that providing that extra context would be important to getting the issue placed in front of the right people, though that didn't seem to help in this particular case it generally helps a lot.

Ah well.

The handoff had been picked up again, and now they are working to fix the problem at the next reasonable opportunity.

Sometimes you have to just say (as Tom Cruise taught us in Risky Business) "What the rżne!"

# Wiktor Sywula on 27 Aug 2009 10:32 AM:

Actually, it should be spelled rżnę [I cut (wood), slang: I fuck]. But most of Polish speakers would pronounce rżne the same as the actual word rżnę. Not me, though.

# Michael S. Kaplan on 27 Aug 2009 8:09 PM:

So how many devs out of 100 would notice it?

And more importantly, how many would be offended?

# Marcin on 28 Aug 2009 2:40 AM:

Wow! This... was... funny. Thou NSFW. But still funny. I looked at the title and went - this looks strangely similar to... nah! It's not like it's Polish, right? Oh! Ok...

Yeah, I must agree with Wiktor: this comes from wood cutting, and when you look at this, it shows that someone with right mindset would translate this movement into another... movement. And then entire population: "The guy is kinda... right... and kinda... funny, when you are at this. This movement might really resemble... movement."

Another thing is, we don't use this for insults and swearing. We have certain "the P-word" for that. Just $0.02.

# Erzengel on 28 Aug 2009 12:26 PM:

As FF was loading the image for the blog, I immediately saw the alt text "sexually explicit property sheet". Before reading the blog I decided to see if I could see it, so I let the image load and looked over the property sheet for any possible way that it could be sexually explicit.

Wow. A lot of those terms have sexual connotations if you're in the right (or wrong) mindset. But I didn't see anything really bad because I don't know polish...

# Wiktor Sywula on 30 Aug 2009 6:44 AM:

Michael: Everyone would notice it, but I suspect that 99 of them would be amused rather than really offended.

# David on 30 Aug 2009 2:30 PM:

This comment isn't directed at this particular post on rzne, but rather at your blog as a whole...I'm a linguistic nerd and really admire your blog. Good work :)

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