Re: API for user account name?
- From: Joseph M. Newcomer <newcomer@xxxxxxxxxxxx>
- Date: Mon, 11 Apr 2011 14:16:29 -0400
Edsgar Dijkstra once commented that he was sitting in his office in Eindhoven, thinking
about some problem, when a colleague poked his head in and said something in a foreign
language. It took him one of those "huh--[rescan]" moments before he realized that his
colleague had asked him, "Do you want to go to lunch?" in Dutch. He was surprised to
realize that when he thought about computer problems, he thought in English.
At one time, I was reasonably good in German, and could get around without thinking in
English when I was in Germany, but I haven't been in that situation in 20 years, and I've
44 years from when I was semi-fluent in the language. I belong to an international
organization with a lot of German members, and 20 years ago I could understand dinner
table conversations. Two years ago, I couldn't.
A friend once told me about icon translations. He spent a year in Greece, and remarked
that the "set breakpoint" hand is a very rude gesture in Greece, culturally akin to .|..
in America or V.. in England. He never saw a Greek version of VS, so doesn't know what
icon is actually used there (he was in Greece in the 1980s). He was also amused by what
was called MessageBox(..., MB_ICONHAND...) back in Win16 in the early 1990s for the same
reason; imagine what someone from America or Great Britain would think if the
culturally-relevant rude hand gesture appeared when the system had an error.
Red means danger in many cultures, but in China, red means "joy". I once had to modify a
program to do black-on-white in a static control to indicate error, where the original was
On Mon, 11 Apr 2011 16:29:28 +0100, "David Webber" <dave@xxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxx>
"Hans-J. Ude" wrote in messageJoseph M. Newcomer [MVP]
These machine translations are often horrible to read and it ismuch easier to understand the original when one one speaks english quite
I never use machine translation to do anything other than translate into my
own language. Not that long ago I got a help request in Dutch an the
gentleman in question included the information that he spoke and wrote no
English. (The translation was "I don't speak but write English" but the
Dutch 'geen' is similar enough to the German 'kein' that I could read that
bit better than the auto translator. ) The actual question made sense, but
I would never use an auto translator to answer it. I created bitmaps of
the menu items and dialogue buttons he needed, shown with big red circles
around them and sent them back by e-mail. He thanked me so I guess it
But this sort of experience has me looking for ways to make my user
interface as graphical and icon-driven as possible, and really optimise the
pictures so they make as much sense as possible without any words!.
-- David Webber
Mozart Music Software
For discussion and support see
MVP Tips: http://www.flounder.com/mvp_tips.htm
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