Tag: wptg

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Programming and Programmer Languages: Beyond "Hello World"?

Language in Business, Language in the News

Interesting discussion (of old) on the StackExchange blog podcast about coding in other natural languages.

Other than English, that is.

So,should programming languages should be localized or not? The podcast mentions the case of Microsoft Excel’s Visual Basic for Applications (VBA) language, which was localized from US English (the source/target paradigm framing the discussion is revealing in itself). The practice was not continued. I should disclose I was a Microsoft employee at the time. I should also disclose that I have no clue as to why the decision was made and then reversed. Perhaps someone can enlighten us? It is not the only language that Microsoft localized by the way. WordBasic, the Word for Windows forerunner to VBA was also localized into a number of major languages. Pretty much all trace of these localization initiatives appear to have been scrubbed from memory and Internet alike.

german_wordbasic

German localization of Microsoft WordBasic: Whatever were they thinking? (Source)

Given the expense, effort and care we see in localizing UIs and documentation, I do wonder though why some programming or scripting language functions and names are not localized, particularly the visual ones used in language-sensitive countries, regions or markets, or by particular types of end users of software.

A matter of user experience I expect, though from a technical and business perspective it is easy to see how English language-based programming facilitates open source, open standards and global development efforts. What a pain it would be to have to learn say, French as well as the Java language!

Wikipedia has a list of Non-English-based programming languages, by the way.

As for the thought that all programmers need to speak English (and American English at that), or at least English to some level, there is a lot of energy from within the development community itself on the subject (all of it in favor of English, no surprise). Check out this somewhat unappealing titled Ugly American Programmer piece on the Coding Horror blog for a start.

Some think developers themselves are part of the problem, perpetrating a myth about not speaking English well. Others say it’s essential for developers have functional English to be a “hacker”, others say English is mandatory because programming languages aren’t localized, and others posit that a lack of English betrays a lack of passion and interest in technology generally. Some have even turned developers grappling with English into an whole comedy act on Twitter (@devops_borat).

Read into it. Make up your own mind. But consider this: English is clearly the lingua franca of programming. But what about all that information around the language itself: The documentation, the community forums, the support organizations, the development conferences, and the customers for developed applications? And, does not speaking or reading English play so well with the stakeholders and ecosystem that surrounds software development?

How often have we, as localization professionals, heard the claim that “Oh, we’re not localizing that UI/demo/developmentguide because developers/administrators/technicians all speak English anyway”?

But, do we even have the research to back up the argument either way?

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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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SDL Tados 2021

Translation and UX Working Together: Oracle Mobile Applications Example

Language Industry News and Events, Localization Culture, Personalization and Design

I’ve previously written a takeaway article for Multilingual decrying the lack of a clear user experience (UX) focus to the general globalization, internationalization, localization and translation industry. I’ll be revisiting this subject in the magazine later this year. Have things changed? Why is it important anyway? Well, you’ll have to read it to find out!

But here is one great example of translation and UX professionals working together in a win-win situation. Pleased to say that I was the one to initiate this (humility Ultan, please) co-operation. The Oracle Applications Mobile User Experience team and the Oracle Worldwide Product Translation Group (WPTG) language specialists recently worked together on ethnographic research into mobile workers in Europe (Sweden in this case).

Brent White of the Oracle  Mobile UX team takes notes as ethnography participant Capri Norrman uses mobile technology to work in Stockholm.

Brent White of the Oracle Mobile UX team takes notes as ethnography participant Capri Norrman uses mobile technology to work in Stockholm. Pic credit: Oracle Applications UX. The Oracle UX team acknowledges Capri's kind permission to use this image.

The UX side benefitted from the local language specialist’s language, market insight and cultural knowledge and WPTG benefitted from advance knowledge of our design thinking and direction so that translation effort resources and materials can be readied in advance.

So, true context of use for everyone up front.

You can read more about this global co-operation on my Oracle Not Lost in Translation blog.

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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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