• (nodebb)

    Curious thing is we get this sort of "yeah, there's at least 200 potential players of this game in Russia who won't play (and won't pay either) unless it's in Russian so there should be a Russian translation" thing on one of the game forums I frequent. Some are realists and just ask for the subtitles, while others are idealists and want the audio redone as well, and a Russian-language server (it's an MMORPG).(1)

    I actually sat down and analysed the problem without reference to anything but 200 potential subscribers.

    That almost pays the salary of one Customer Service representative to handle complaints about bad language or racism or homophobia or whatever in text-chat channels.

    (1) For the desperately curious, it's SWTOR, and I posted a more complete analysis on their forums. The realities are more complicated, with (in the original released version of the game, back end of 2011) two hundred thousand lines of spoken dialogue and countless bits of written text that would need to be translated, so there's basically no hope of it happpening, especially not for 200 new players.

  • LXE (unregistered)

    The Russian would be "Инитех" [ini'teh], the English Initech [ini-tek] ("tech" as in "techie").

  • (nodebb)

    Never, never, hire Carl Sagan's company to work out the business case for a product. "Billions and billions" is not a business case.

  • RLB (unregistered)

    So... why, at no point in the story, was a contract lawyer involved?

  • (nodebb) in reply to RLB

    Because lawyers charge actual money?

  • Anon (unregistered)

    Localization... Many softwares I prefer to install them in english instead of my native language because translation quality is so bad that I can't guess what the "translated" texts are supposed to mean.

    But the WTF localization prize of the century goes to MS Excel, they not just did a poor job with the texts, they also translated shortcuts and function names, for the shortcuts they choose ctrl+B for the very important "save" command, but B is not present in any word with similar meaning, not even other MS products other than Office use this shortcut, for the function names they made the name and the intellisense in a accent sensitive way, the WTF is that accents aren't very important for us, actually, the organization that defines the norms of the language changed accents quite a few times in the last 100 years, E and É aren't different letters and it's frustrating then typing E and the intellisense don't show the É... functions we are looking for.

  • DQ (unregistered)

    Strange, a Russian company with a Bulgarian name: Инитеч means 'Otherwise'

  • (nodebb) in reply to Anon

    Ah yes, bad GUI translations... I love it especially, when hotkeys become either incredibly awkward for the sake of having a native language mnemonic meaning (ctrl shift F(etta) instead of ctrl B(old)) or outright don’t work with anything but English keyboards (ctrl+ˋ, or in github desktop ctrl+=).

    But never fear! After years of progress with the ribbon designs, which I found to uniquely efficiently solve this issues with gears to „Alt+letter key sequence“ accelerators, we have advanced to the likes of Paint 3D and One Note for Windows 10, which simply don’t support accelerating the ribbon anymore, and don’t even display hotkeys, where available, on mouse-over, bringing us back to the good old days where you had to read a manual just to find out the hotkeys... (Also, unlike in those days with their offline manuals, you now have to hope that the manual you find and the software you use actually agree on these things.)

  • Siff (unregistered) in reply to DQ

    “Otherwise” in Bulgarian is “иначе”, not “инитеч”. “Инитеч” is not a word in Bulgarian. I think that in both Russian and Bulgarian “Инитех” as company name would be better.

    The real WTF for me is that the company decided to invest into the translation without a contract in place…

  • (nodebb) in reply to RLB

    Because software development contracts are mostly useless.

    If you pay by the job instead of for time and materials, then any contract dispute devolves into a blame game of "your code has bugs" vs. "your spec is ambiguous". If you write a requirements specification detailed enough to win an actual judgement, you might as well have written the software yourself.

    In order to be successful, you need a good relationship with your development shop - if lawyers come into the picture, it's too late to save the project.

  • (nodebb) in reply to Jaime

    OK, that was supposed to quote:

    So... why, at no point in the story, was a contract lawyer involved?

    With "Because software development contracts are mostly useless." as a response.

  • Brian (unregistered)

    So they had a bilingual German/Russian employee at the company, who was already familiar with the product. If they wanted to go cheap, why not ask her to do the translation? Even offering a bonus for the extra work would be cheaper than hiring an outside firm.

  • Jaloopa (unregistered) in reply to DQ

    Strange, a Russian company with a Bulgarian name: Инитеч means 'Otherwise'

    I'm choosing to believe the bad translation in an article about bad translations is an intentional meta joke

  • ichbinkeinroboter (unregistered) in reply to Anon

    YES. The Excel thing is BATSHIT CRAZY!

  • (nodebb) in reply to Brian

    Take several years' worth of work and assign it to one person to do on the side for a bonus? That would be TRWTF.

  • LHPSU (unregistered)

    As a professional translator, all I can say is: you get what you paid for.

  • mushroom farm (unregistered) in reply to LXE

    Muphry's law strikes again, in a new form!

  • (nodebb) in reply to Anon

    As for the localization of the function names in Excel, yeah, I’m still wondering why on Earth they did that. It’s not like you get localized versions of programming language keywords, library function names...

  • Foxglove (unregistered) in reply to Jaroslav Sveda

    Localisation of function names? You're shitting me, right?

    Imagine the fun you can have switching someone's Excel from British to US English...

  • dusoft (unregistered) in reply to Jaroslav Sveda

    Google Sheets has similar annoying feature (read: bug). Based on user's locale, it interchanges a semicolon for a comma, so functions won't work and you won't be told why, except for a generic FORMULA ERROR.

  • JJ (unregistered) in reply to ichbinkeinroboter

    The guano prize goes to localizing bloody VBA!

  • Dave Taylor (unregistered) in reply to LXE

    The Russian would be "Инитех" [ini'teh], the English Initech [ini-tek] ("tech" as in "techie").

    The translation in the original post was done by taking the German original, slapping it through Google Translate to get to English, then eventually migrating to Russian by way of Hindi and Portuguese.

  • (nodebb) in reply to dusoft

    Yeah, Excel does that, too. Fargling annoying for a while, then it just becomes the new normal.

  • (nodebb) in reply to Foxglove

    Imagine the fun you can have switching someone's Excel from British to US English...

    It won't break existing files because the names are stored internally in a normalised form (probably US English) and translated on the fly between the user's localisation and the normalised form, but it's a major pain if you're using it in French having had the habit of using it English. (Most function names are the same between US and British English, with a few oddities surrounding -our and -ise words, but between French and any flavour of English, most function names are different.)

  • Anonymous (unregistered)

    I once saw a German translation of a program with a button labeled "in der Nähe", which means "nearby"…

    or "close" if you manage to solve the riddle.

  • m (unregistered)

    Excel localizing function names I can just about understand, one being able to write them in English regardless (right?!).

    Biggest localization fuckup belongs to MS Outlook when it translates all "Re:" strings in people's email subjects, messing up message chains.

  • Foxglove (unregistered) in reply to Steve_The_Cynic

    The subtler the effects, the harder to work out what's going on.

  • wlao (unregistered) in reply to Jaroslav Sveda

    Not only did they translate the function names in Excel. If you want to look up how to use the (translated) function in the online help, you will find that the functions are listed in alphabetical order, according to their original English name. So what you see in the online help in your non-English Verizon is the functions in completely random order. Fun times.

  • RLB (unregistered) in reply to Steve_The_Cynic

    Myeah. But in dealing with another company, not having contract lawyers involved often costs even more money. Ut demonstrandum. It's not as if this was simply a sale; this was a coöperation. Or should have been.

  • RLB (unregistered) in reply to Jaroslav Sveda

    It's because Excel is (notionally at least) aimed at beancounters and managers, rather than technologically adept people. They can't be expected to understand that the function SUM in English-Excel means the same thing as the word sum in English; they're barely able to grasp that SOM in Dutch-Excel means the same thing as the word som in Dutch. Because Programming Is Hard, And Must Be Made Simple.

    That it's not the learning of a few new terms that is hard about programming (or maths, or physics, or chess, or any serious subject) cannot be rammed into the head of marketeers and CSOs even with a fence post and a six-foot mallet.

  • (nodebb) in reply to RLB

    You have the internationalisation thing backwards. The problem is not whether the non-savvy can understand terms in their domain in their language (e.g. SUM/sum vs SOM/som vs SOMME/somme - most accountants know what a sum is in accounting, duh) but whether they'll understand terms in their domain but someone else's language, e.g. SUM/somme.

    So they localise the user experience so that it corresponds to the user's expectations of terminology without having to learn a foreign version of the terminology.

    Where the problems arise is when you start using Excel in a different language for whatever reason (er, like maybe you're on your way to becoming a citizen of some other country, like the person typing this message has done), and nothing works the way you expect because suddenly "SUM" doesn't work any more...

  • WTFGuy (unregistered)

    I lived through a similar project. Our firm & our narrow vertical market niche product was US-based with well-done localization into UK English and Spain-flavored Spanish. That degree of localization let us address the rest of the British Commonwealth & most of Latin America with only minor customer grumbling.

    Then the sales beast hit upon a customer in Iceland. Talk about your quintessential tiny market!

    The rest unfolded much as Remy tells the tale of poor long-suffering Cid.

    We even had a senior dev in our shop who was an Icelandic native whose parents moved to the US when he was a pre-teen. So as the project vortexed into the final failure he was tasked to hack on the customer's craptacular translations. With predictable consequences for the schedule of the major other core development tasks he was supposed to be working on.

    Not a happy scenario.

  • Dan Koenig (unregistered)

    All of you are here complaining about localization and translation from one LTR language to another. I am from Israel. ALL of my (modern - see below) apps need to be designed to support at least both English and Hebrew. Hebrew is a RTL language. Which means that each and every UI element and each and every output needs to be able to be flipped (right-to-left or vice-versa), besides being "merely" translated. Oh. and my company also supports legacy applications from the DOS era. (The REAL WTF) You do not want to know the hoops we need to go through to keep the output legible in OSs above Win95...

  • (nodebb) in reply to m

    Fortunately Thunderbird has a solution for that: if you use a localised version of Thunderbird, it will automatically detect localised versions of Re: in incoming messages and change them back to a real Re:. You can also manually override the list, in case you communicate in multiple locales.

  • Terion (unregistered)

    My favourite bad translation that stumped me for quite a while is the Aliexpress "ship from" selector. Somehow it defaults to Dutch based on GeoIP (instead of using English which is set as browser preferred language). It does so using auto-translate it seems. Hence I ran into a situation that looked like this (translated back):

    Product X: [Red] [Blue] [Black] [S][M][L][XL] [Porcelain]

    Apparently this product can be shipped from multiple locations, but was at this point only available from China. The auto-translate translated China to the Dutch word for Porcelain.

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