A lot (but probably still not nearly enough) time is often spent discussing and testing for internationalisation of software. This is of course a very important consideration for anyone building software designed for use in different countries and cultures, because if you get it wrong the software may not run, may not make sense or may not be localisable.
I personally have seen very little about internationalisation of written language. I'm probably coining or bastardising terminology, but I'm referring to the art of writing content for an international audience. I'm sure there actually has been a lot of work in this area, and professional writers can probably point me to some great content. But in this age of the interweb where an increasing amount of content is written by amateurs (myself included) and for a global audience, I've seen a lot of writing which would fail my internationalisation reviews. Here are some of the worse culprits I've noticed, along with some random examples:
What are your thoughts on this - are there any "language internationalisation" faux pas that get your blood boiling, or am I making a fuss over nothing? Have I made any such blunders on this blog? I would predict that someone's sensitivity to this issue is proportional to their distance from the United States (due to the fact that the majority of English content on the web is from there) - but I'd love to hear some American perspectives on this issue too.
One topic that I have deliberately not included in my list is the use of different international flavours of English spelling. This is because no form is more or less correct than any other, and in any event it shouldn't be an impediment to understanding. On this note, those of you who pay close attention to this blog may have noticed a switch from US English to Australian English spelling in May 2007 when I moved. But I would be very surprised if anyone could honestly say that the change has made the blog make any less (or more) sense. Actually I don't think it made a lot of sense to begin with.
Hi Tom, interesting post. I'm definitely guilty of some of these infringements. I once posted something I titled "The Two Solitudes", which upon reflection is a Canadian social reference, and I often mention seasons (invariably meaning the ones in the Northern Hemisphere). I've missed a few webcasts due to confusion over time zones. I'm also all over the map when it comes to US, English, Canadian, and Australian spelling conventions. On the other hand I do use the ISO date format so there's hope for me!
Watch out for words with multiple meanings. They can be very confusing.
Personally, my car doesn't have a "boot". Although I use my trunk nearly every day.
Evan - this is a tricky one. Each of the terms you mentioned is essentially the only acceptable term in different countries, so which one is the "right" one to use? While it's probably best to avoid using either term unless completely necessary, I would expect most people to be familiar with both even if they only use one (this definitely covers you and me!).
"Using unexplained cultural anecdotes to make a point" is definitly the most annoying one for me. Especially because I believe it is the easiest to avoid for the writer.
Something you may want to mention in your list are idomatic expressions, which are sometimes very difficult to get for a non-native english.
Before I get started, to my point about globally-accessible writing , let me warn you that this post
As I native English speaker living & working in Germany (with limited German) I've also discovered numerous sites that don't honour my UI culture even though they support the culture. It is also interesting to see the advertising that sites display obviously based on my IP local again rather than my UI culture.
I've even encountered problems at a browser level. If I use the search box in IE, it correctly uses my UI culture to direct me to google.co.uk where as Firefox sends me to google.de.
In global village we currently live in its worth remembering people move about a lot, but still like to be presented with information in the way they are used to.