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UI: Button Text and Localization

weather: partially sunny
outside: 9.1°C
mood: ...
Because I have nowhere else to put this:

Software user interface buttons should not contain more than one single word (two in extenuating circumstances) and, as a rule of thumb, it should be a verb unless it's an OK button. Make an exception if the situation warrants it, but be sure it actually is an exception.

Aside from being tidier, we have to translate the button text into French and Italian. French always takes up 1.5 to double the amount of space that English does... sometimes more. French words are longer and French grammar takes more words to cover the same thing. Italian is not quite as verbose, but it does tend to run a little longer than English in general.

An example of this is a button that says Save Bank Information which is technically inaccurate because it's actually the Bank Account Information which includes the Bank's Information. This ends up being Sauvegarder l'Information de Compte Bancaire in French and Salva l'Informazione di Conto Bancario in Italian.

There's just no way. XD

And for the nerdy linguaphiles (okay, just me):

The verb for button text should be in the present imperative second person singular form in English; infinitive form in French; and the present imperative, formal second person singular form in Italian. If you want to be ultra-formal, use the infinitive in Italian... but that tends to be very very impersonal as well.

Warning or error messages that ask the user to "please [do something]" should be in the present imperative, formal second person singular form in French ("veuillez [faire quelque chose]"), and the present imperative, formal second person singular form in Italian ("[faccia qualcosa]"). And the word please (s'il vous plait; per favore) is generally omitted because the sentiment is included in the formal form of the verb conjugation.

Status names in English, French and Italian should to be the past participle of a verb and should grammatically fit into the phrase "it has been ____".


( 8 comments — Leave a comment )
Mar. 9th, 2007 08:46 pm (UTC)
Hey, I'm a nerdy enough linguaphile to find it interesting!

Welsh is actually a letter shorter than English ("cadw gwybodaeth banc"). "Cadw" is a lovely little word that literally means "keep", but has this sense of preserving things: it's the name of the Welsh governmental organisation that maintains historic buildings like castles.
Mar. 9th, 2007 08:52 pm (UTC)
Is the phonetic inventory (particularly the vowels) of Welsh the same as English?

I once heard a radio programme that was entirely in Welsh (one of our International stations here in Vancouver). I thought it was English until I tried to pay attention and realized that I couldn't understand anything =)

I found that so fascinating. =D
Mar. 9th, 2007 09:36 pm (UTC)
I don't think Welsh vowels, or the phonology in general, are terribly similar to English ones. But maybe I haven't had enough exposure to other more different languages.

You can listen to Radio Cymru here, if you like :)
Mar. 10th, 2007 11:34 pm (UTC)
There are also German words which are wayyyy longer than their English equivalents eg. Rindfleischetikettierungsüberwachungsaufgabenübertragungsgesetz (law for regulating the labeling of beef)
Mar. 11th, 2007 05:23 am (UTC)
Yeah, it will be scary-fun if we decided to localize to German... =O =D
(Deleted comment)
Mar. 12th, 2007 03:57 pm (UTC)
It's still too long =D You end up with this huge bar =P
(Deleted comment)
Mar. 13th, 2007 04:28 pm (UTC)
I would just have a box around the entire section that has a title bar labelled "Informazione di Conto Bancario". Then, the buttons should be inside the box, and be labelled [Salva] and [Cancella].

Within the context of the section box, you're saving l'informazione di conto bancario. =)
(Deleted comment)
Mar. 14th, 2007 03:45 pm (UTC)
I am QA, I have a little bit of say over how things are done =)
( 8 comments — Leave a comment )


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