Tuesday, June 22, 2010

Formal and informal #localisation support for #MediaWiki

Both the German and the Dutch language allow you to address people in a formal and in an informal way.

When you localise software like we do at translatewiki.net, it is important to be consistent; either formal or informal for the default. For MediaWiki the default is informal for German and formal for Dutch. This does not fit always well; we have supported formal German for quite some time and as we now support the Wikia extensions, we learned that its default for Dutch used to be informal.

Given that the formal Dutch localisation is complete, it is what informal Dutch falls back to. This has the added advantage that only those messages where there is a difference needs to be localised.

With Wikia localising at translatewiki.net, we gained many localisers and consequently the quality and quantity improved. As the same is true for Wikia, it becomes clear that translatewiki's policy to grow the number of applications it supports is a winner.

1 comment:

Anonymous said...

There are a lot more languages than just German and Dutch having formal and informal ways to address people. Most languages related to either of them do, too, for instance. Japanese and Chinese have even more complex ways and distinctions. Sometimes, these differentiations blend with gender, social relation, and age, e.g. a male talking to a jounger female would use different words or grammar than he would use talking to a male, or a person of equal age, or a group audience, etc.

One of the advantages of MediaWiki over various other pieces of software is that, we can at least treat (some) genders correctly: male, female, and gender unknown. We cannot currently handle languages having more than two genders well, and we cannot handle these ones, where gender blends with polite forms, or formal/informal. The big hindrance is not introducing more gender related cases for the languages that have them, but proper mappings of them between languages. Users can choose to switch their user interface language at any instance, and they should be addressed correctly, and messages about them should be worded appropriately after any such switch.

Greetings - Purodha