DARE to be HyperLocal: Context and Language at the Mall

I love this piece about regional language preferences from the San Francisco Chronicle blog, “Which Words Are Special to Californian?”. It offers us a look at the Harvard University Press Dictionary of American Regional English (DARE), described as “…an Urban Dictionary you can share with your parents and co-workers without fear of being disowned or encouraged to ‘retire early’.” Although it doesn’t contain some of the terms I’ve become familiar with from my time in Silicon Valley, the DARE is still insightful as to how enduring some terms can be once they enter the local vernacular.

Dictionary of American Regional English Map (sourced from www.daredictionary.com)
Dictionary of American Regional English Map (sourced from www.daredictionary.com)


The DARE is interesting and fun, sure. It reminds us that localization isn’t just about adapting from one major source natural language to another target language, but can be about adapting between variants of the same language too. But there’s a serious side to all this, and there are real use cases out there for taking these kind of language resources, to go much further, and to solve real user problems and offer great user experiences.

Consider that we are now in the age of the Internet of Things, of sensors, and of hyperlocal context. Combining these local dictionaries with sensor technology such as the iBeacons now used at Apple Stores in the U.S., or other sensors as wearables, will provide a very personalized user or customer experience in a preferred regional language at a much more granular level than we are used to now. This experience could enhance a range of activities: shopping, doing business, keeping fit, picking up the kids, simply living your life, whatever.

It’s all about context, people. Yes, there’s that word again.

Sensors, wearables, hyperlocal context, and using micro-dictionaries or other language resources, these are sort of areas that Language Service Providers, and other industry bodies interested in technology, should really be investigating and offering integrative solutions that are ready for others to go global with, when needed.

Maybe they already are. Find the comments.

Ultan Ó Broin
Ultan Ó Broin (@localization), is an independent UX consultant. With three decades of UX and L10n experience and outreach, he specializes in helping people ensure their global digital transformation makes sense culturally and also reflects how users behave locally. Any views expressed are his own. Especially the ones you agree with.

Related Articles

Weekly Digest

Subscribe to stay updated