If only they had iPhones on the Titanic

One of the Multilingual features I enjoy is “Off The Map” by Tom Edwards. In the current issue, Tom writes about “Geopolitical correctness,” and I was reminded of Tom’s articles when I took a look at the data being used by my Accuweather iPhone app today (the app is free from the iTunes app store.)

Why, it’s using pre-Irish Independence (1922) placenames for Irish locations. I was able to find up-to-date weather information, including weather satellite maps for such places as “Kingstown” (Dún Laoghaire), “Maryborough” (Portlaoise), Philipstown (Daingean) and other distinctly er, royalist-sounding places.


Even “Queenstown” is there! That’s now called Cobh. It’s the place the Titanic called to before setting off on the final stage of its tragic journey in 1912. If only they had iPhones on board, they could not only have checked the Queenstown weather but they might have also seen the #icebergalert warning on Tweetie.

Accuweather image of Queenstown weather

I cannot help but wonder where the Accuweather folks got this ancient data from. It’s a major localization and cultural error. Names of places in Ireland have all kinds of political as well as cultural and historic significance.

I wouldn’t mind, but there isn’t even a “Weather Conditions for Potato Famine Imminent” alarm. At least the Accuweather people could have been historically consistent with the feature set. Maybe Tom can add this one to his list for future articles!

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.

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