Thanks for the localisation



  • My Wacom tablet quit working. I tried the driver properties in the start menu, and a somewhat small dialog box told me (in Dutch) that there was a problem with the driver and I needed to--
    Thanks.

    ......

    In multiplayer Need for Speed Hot Pursuit gives you status updates on how your team and the enemy team are doing. I suppose that text is fairly short in English. In Dutch it stretches across the screen, directly in front of the road so you can't see a thing. Solution: none, because the game doesn't offer a language option or editable strings.
    Thanks.

    ......

    And they wonder why Generation Y prefers English.



  • Well, Need for Speed is an EA game, so of course it sucks shit. No shocker there. It's probably just as bad in English.

    Wiki says Dutch has about 22 million speakers. How is localization from larger companies, like Microsoft and Apple? I always wonder about the economics of a company like Wacom, how many of the hardware they sell vs. cost of localization... I'd like to see their numbers.

    @Brother Laz said:

    And they wonder why Generation Y prefers English.

    Is it still just X and Y? Do we have a Z at this point? Generation X is like... buy a Ferrari and get some young arm-candy range.



  • Some years ago, I once visited a friend who has lived in the Netherlands for many years, and had a 'while you're here…' to get his new printer working with his existing DOS copy of Ashton-Tate Framework (!). Despite my somewhat limited knowledge of Dutch, he seemed impressed that I puttered around the menus for no more than 5 minutes on my own before I needed to check a couple of words with him to make sure I was in the Printer Setup part of the program.



  • @blakeyrat said:

    Wiki says Dutch has about 22 million speakers. How is localization from larger companies, like Microsoft and Apple? I always wonder about the economics of a company like Wacom, how many of the hardware they sell vs. cost of localization... I'd like to see their numbers.

    The quality of Microsoft translations is great: basic terminology that is hard to translate gets replaced with new terminology that is actually consistently used (eg. 'extra' instead of 'tools'). Drivers and third party applications should probably realise that specialised English terminology (multisampling, adjustment layers) should be left as is, because translating it won't make it any easier to understand and now you can't google for it - the ATI control panel does this properly, Nvidia not so much. Less visible drivers, freeware tools and games invariably have horrible localisation: I just looked at Pixlr, an otherwise very useful online image editor, and it translates 'box blur' to 'vierkant vervagen' ('fade [the] square').

    It seems to depend on the amount of text: the more text, the better the translation. If a tool has only a total of 10 lines of text they'll blow it, if it's a whole operating system or office suite it's perfect.



  • @Brother Laz said:

    It seems to depend on the amount of text: the more text, the better the translation. If a tool has only a total of 10 lines of text they'll blow it,

    That probably crosses the "oh hey, I have a cousin who could do that for us" barrier.

    @Brother Laz said:

    if it's a whole operating system or office suite it's perfect.

    I bet it's more related to copies sold. It would be interesting to compare the quality of localization for Microsoft Office to WordPerfect Office, for example... I wager the latter has significantly worse localization, because they sell fewer copies, and have less budget for it.



  • @blakeyrat said:

    @Brother Laz said:
    And they wonder why Generation Y prefers English.

    Is it still just X and Y? Do we have a Z at this point? Generation X is like... buy a Ferrari and get some young arm-candy range.

    </p>

     The border between X and Y is somewhere between 1979 and 1982, so depending on the definition used I could be in either (I'd prefer to be in X).

    Z starts around 1995 and apparently "Generation Alpha"  is for the babies born in 2010 (and onwards, presumably until 2025). I don't know who decided that 15 years is a good length of time for a generation. Maybe too many single teenaged mothers.



  • My coworker has a version of VS that speaks Dutch, and he often can't understand shit about the error messages it's spewing.

    My rule: dev tools should not be localised. Programming is in English. Period. Deal.

    I  mean, look at this gem from firebug:

    URL's van zelfde oorsprong activeren

    That's Dutch in te most basic grammatical sense, but it is entirely meaningless gibberish. I could go on, but I think I'll just post a message at the google code thing.



  • @dhromed said:

    I  mean, look at this gem from firebug:

    URL's van zelfde oorsprong activeren

    Google sez this means: "URLs from the same origin activation"



  •  I (being Dutch) read it as "Activate URLs from the same origin.", basicaly the same as google said, only active.

    But I can't figure out what it is supposed to mean. Maybe the original English was something like "Highlight URLs from the same source."?

    By the way, for me (apparently I can choose to be in generation Y), some English words got their computer science meaning first. A 'string' is a short piece of text, learned years later that this originated from chaining letters together.

    And I recall being suprised that people used the 'string-sign' as a money denominator ($ in C64 Basic). Seemed like an odd choice to me.

    (And even weirder 'fork' meant the start of a loop, as in 'FORK=1TO10', although I did know it was used for cuttelry as well.)

    <hints id="hah_hints"></hints>




  • Well at least EA is a tiny bit better now. In the past the games had only the localized version on the disc. For example, I bought Need for Speed Underground 2 and it was entirely in Dutch, and nothing I tried changed it to English (I ended up downloading it "illegally" to be able to have it in English). With the new Hot Pursuit, you can change your operating system regional settings to change it to English. But this raises another WTF (observed in many products) that you have to change the way dates and money is displayed to change the language of the installer. Dear Windows, the fact that I live in the Netherlands and that I pay with the Euro and write dates in a Dutch way does NOT mean I want programs to be installed in Dutch... (some products base their choice on your "Location", which is wrong too -- imho there should be a separate preference for it, although I would think that having an English Windows installation would imply I prefer applications in English).

    @dhromed said:

    My coworker has a version of VS that speaks Dutch, and he often can't understand shit about the error messages it's spewing.

    My rule: dev tools should not be localised. Programming is in English. Period. Deal.

    I  mean, look at this gem from firebug:

    URL's van zelfde oorsprong activeren

    That's Dutch in te most basic grammatical sense, but it is entirely meaningless gibberish. I could go on, but I think I'll just post a message at the google code thing.

    I agree. My Flex Builder IDE is constantly spamming me with Dutch errors and warnings, which make no sense at all. For example:

    [code]1112: Array(x) gedraagt zich hetzelfde als het de nieuwe Array(x). U kunt een waarde casten naar type Array met de expressie x als array in plaats van Array(x). [sic][/code]

    They actually translated ActionScript keywords ("new Array(x)" -> "nieuwe Array(x)" and "x as Array" -> "x als array"). I'm kind of glad that every error and warning has a number, so I can at least Google on that to see the original message and possible solutions.

    If it were up to me, the entire world would be speaking English.



  • @dhromed said:

    My rule: dev tools should not be localised. Programming is in English. Period. Deal.
    Indeed.

    I can barely understand technical terms in my native language, even when they are as accurately translated as possible.



  •  You guys should try finderr.net

    I use it quite often :-)

    P.S.: https://addons.mozilla.org/de/firefox/addon/178411/



  • Speaking of localization, while Microsoft's Slovenian translations are generally fine, I noticed that Slovenian Windows 7 translates "Online" in Disk management as "On the web". They seem to translate some things anew with each version of Windows, since in XP this was translated as "Available" and in Vista as "On the Internet", and there's also a few things that are translated in XP and Vista, but are left in English in 7.



  • @dhromed said:

    My rule: dev tools should not be localised. Programming is in English. Period. Deal.

    I'm agree.

    Not a dev tool, but still annoying: the function names in Excel. I've used Dutch versions of Excel, and not only do suddenly CSV files not work (unless you go through the import wizard), but all functions have different names, so vlookup suddenly changes to vert.zoeken or something (I never remember). To prevent this and similar annoyances, I want English versions only. Thank you.

    However, I also know how hard it is to get localization right (or rather, how easy it is to get it wrong). I once created a little throw-away tool that 4 years later was used by thousands of users in 22 different languages, and I can assure you, I made every mistake in the book in localization. On the plus side, in my current project, we decided that localization was a key factor, so we made sure we implemented the tools to do that first. Good decisions come from experience, and experience comes from bad decisions, that kind of thing.



  • @b-redeker said:

    @dhromed said:

    My rule: dev tools should not be localised. Programming is in English. Period. Deal.

    I'm agree.

    Not a dev tool, but still annoying: the function names in Excel. I've used Dutch versions of Excel, and not only do suddenly CSV files not work (unless you go through the import wizard), but all functions have different names, so vlookup suddenly changes to vert.zoeken or something (I never remember). To prevent this and similar annoyances, I want English versions only. Thank you.

    However, I also know how hard it is to get localization right (or rather, how easy it is to get it wrong). I once created a little throw-away tool that 4 years later was used by thousands of users in 22 different languages, and I can assure you, I made every mistake in the book in localization. On the plus side, in my current project, we decided that localization was a key factor, so we made sure we implemented the tools to do that first. Good decisions come from experience, and experience comes from bad decisions, that kind of thing.

    Some of the projects I work on have to be both in Dutch and English, that's not much of a problem (although my English isn't that good). I just make sure that all texts and UI elements are looked at by both Dutch and English people to ensure all texts make sense. But when a project would be bigger and needed multiple translations, it would only be the engineer's job to facilitate that and it would be a translator's job to do the translations.

    But as I said, I think the whole world should just switch to one language. Having so many languages is just not modern and a destruction of capital (decapitalization? I don't know the correct word - in any case, a big waste of money), if you ask me.



  • @pbean said:

    But as I said, I think the whole world should just switch to one language. Having so many languages is just not modern and a destruction of capital (decapitalization? I don't know the correct word - in any case, a big waste of money), if you ask me.
    The destruction of culture is worse, though.  English is a nice language and all, save some much-needed spelling reform, but it would be a pitty for all others to become lost and forgotten...



  • @Xyro said:

    The destruction of culture is worse, though.  English is a nice language and all, save some much-needed spelling reform, but it would be a pitty for all others to become lost and forgotten...
    The destruction is already happening. I am not sure of the exact stats but I vaguely remember that the number of languages in use in the world is on a trend to plummet from something like 2000 to 200 in a very short time.



  • @Xyro said:

    @pbean said:

    But as I said, I think the whole world should just switch to one language. Having so many languages is just not modern and a destruction of capital (decapitalization? I don't know the correct word - in any case, a big waste of money), if you ask me.
    The destruction of culture is worse, though.  English is a nice language and all, save some much-needed spelling reform, but it would be a pitty for all others to become lost and forgotten...

    Why? What inherent value does a language have other than maybe sounding nice or having a rich history? Language is meant for communication, and with there being so many it's doing quite a bad job actually. Surely grammar and spelling and such suck in all languages, and should be reformed into one logical set of grammar and spelling (logical as in 1+1=2, not as in "this word is from ancient latin so we should spell it like this or that").



  • @pbean said:

    Why? What inherent value does a language have other than maybe sounding nice or having a rich history? Language is meant for communication, and with there being so many it's doing quite a bad job actually. Surely grammar and spelling and such suck in all languages, and should be reformed into one logical set of grammar and spelling (logical as in 1+1=2, not as in "this word is from ancient latin so we should spell it like this or that").
    No no, it's much deeper than that.  It's about the way people think, about how they draw metaphors and relate to abstract concepts.  Language has a very significant role in the way we conceptualize the world, and for everybody to conceptualize it form the same language can only be a bad thing.  The current destruction of languages and their associated cultures is a sad passing indeed.

    We have a direct analogy to computer languages here.  Would you advocate everyone programming in only one language?  I'm sure you can enumberate the reasons on your own; the reasons for human language diversity are even stronger.



  • @pbean said:

    Surely grammar and spelling and such suck in all languages, and should be reformed into one logical set of grammar and spelling

    Except you can't.



  • @pbean said:

    Why? What inherent value does a language have other than maybe sounding nice or having a rich history?
    There are concepts that are directly expressible in Language A that are virtually impossible to simply express in language B. Losing the ability to express such things would be tragic. As an example: Saudade



  • My 2 cents on language universalization:

    1. We are losing precious history, we should protect what we have, etc....: Boo, fucking hoo, you are losing, yes but there is little you can do to slow it, let alone stop it, this is something that has happened since the beginning of time.  Modern languages displaced and/or absorbed other languages.  This is like caring for the dinousars, extintion happens, is a part of the process.
    2. We should support one language to rule them all, etc...: I kind of agree from a logical perspective, but is imposible, it will get to fewer and fewer but never to one, not in our lifetime at least, we need to evolve more as human beings to be able to be this civilized.


  •  Yeah, let's all switch to English, and kill all the dinosaurs that won't obey.



  •  Am I the only one who thinks this argument is daft to begin with? Even if the entire world spoke one language, the slang that would arise among 6 billion people would effectively create new languages within mere decades. And if you think that forcing one version via the media would work you should go and try to have a conversation in english with a scottish teenager.



  • @DOA said:

     Am I the only one who thinks this argument is daft to begin with? Even if the entire world spoke one language, the slang that would arise among 6 billion people would effectively create new languages within mere decades. And if you think that forcing one version via the media would work you should go and try to have a conversation in english with a scottish teenager.

    No, I agree, even if we were to brainwash the entire population of Earth into choosing one language, they will create dialects to antagonize "us" against "them".  As someone said, we define ourselves in opposition to others.

    I'm an idealist so I think that we will evolve into beings that won't be bothered by our differences and be more focused on our commonalities.  I expect this to happen before we kill ourselves or <ref/ Star_Gate become balls of light intent on making everybody else worship us  />



  • @pbean said:

    Well at least EA is a tiny bit better now. In the past the games had only the localized version on the disc.

    Well, ok, but their games still suck, and they still are monopolistic assholes with no concept of quality. (I always find it funny that some people who rail on about Microsoft's monopoly are perfectly ok with buying EA games. But that's another thread.)

    BTW, do the non-English-native speakers in here understand a word I'm typing? I never think about using things like "rail on"... I have no idea if that means anything to anybody other than me.

    @pbean said:

    I agree. My Flex Builder IDE is constantly spamming me with Dutch errors and warnings, which make no sense at all.

    FlexBuilder is simultaneously Adobe and Java. It's surprising it even runs.

    @pbean said:

    If it were up to me, the entire world would be speaking English.

    Well, you'll have your wish in the software world soon enough. I'm pretty sure the US is the source of all usable software right now-- for some reason, we seem to be the only country with a concept of "usability".

    Sure you can get Japanese software in the form of Sony products, but it's a steaming pile. And don't even get me started on Siemens shit. Oh and I guess SAP is German, right? Their software is popular at least, if still shit.



  • @Xyro said:

    @pbean said:

    But as I said, I think the whole world should just switch to one language. Having so many languages is just not modern and a destruction of capital (decapitalization? I don't know the correct word - in any case, a big waste of money), if you ask me.
    The destruction of culture is worse, though.  English is a nice language and all, save some much-needed spelling reform, but it would be a pitty for all others to become lost and forgotten...

    Doctors (and biologists) conduct business mostly in Latin, and they manage to do business without "destroying culture." No different than programmers conducting business in English.



  • @pbean said:

    @Xyro said:

    @pbean said:

    But as I said, I think the whole world should just switch to one language. Having so many languages is just not modern and a destruction of capital (decapitalization? I don't know the correct word - in any case, a big waste of money), if you ask me.
    The destruction of culture is worse, though.  English is a nice language and all, save some much-needed spelling reform, but it would be a pitty for all others to become lost and forgotten...

    Why? What inherent value does a language have other than maybe sounding nice or having a rich history? Language is meant for communication, and with there being so many it's doing quite a bad job actually. Surely grammar and spelling and such suck in all languages, and should be reformed into one logical set of grammar and spelling (logical as in 1+1=2, not as in "this word is from ancient latin so we should spell it like this or that").

    It's useful for anthropologists, who can figure out roughly where groups of humans migrated based on the words they use. Read Jarod Diamond's Collapse, it's fascinating.



  • @Xyro said:

    @pbean said:
    Why? What inherent value does a language have other than maybe sounding nice or having a rich history? Language is meant for communication, and with there being so many it's doing quite a bad job actually. Surely grammar and spelling and such suck in all languages, and should be reformed into one logical set of grammar and spelling (logical as in 1+1=2, not as in "this word is from ancient latin so we should spell it like this or that").
    No no, it's much deeper than that.  It's about the way people think, about how they draw metaphors and relate to abstract concepts.

    Crap.

    Sorry but George Orwell got it wrong on this one. Noam Chomsky showed over 20 years ago that a person's language has *no impact* on their ability to draw metaphors or relate to abstract concepts-- abstraction is inherently present in all human languages*. If you trapped newborn infants on a planet with a non-speaking robot nurse to keep them alive, they'd form a language with metaphors and abstract concepts, it's already in their brain.

    ASTERISK: With one very strange possible exception.

    @Xyro said:

    We have a direct analogy to computer languages here.  Would you advocate everyone programming in only one language?

    First of all: Yes, why not?

    Secondly: Computer languages serve different purposes than human languages. They're specialized. Some are designed to save memory, others to make development easy... well that's pretty much the continuum.

    Humans languages aren't. They all serve the exact same purpose-- everybody on Earth could switch to ASL tomorrow, and most of society would continue functioning the same way it always has. (Well, telephones would be less useful.)

    @Xyro said:

    the reasons for human language diversity are even stronger.

    Why don't you name some? Because I got nothing.



  • @DOA said:

     Am I the only one who thinks this argument is daft to begin with? Even if the entire world spoke one language, the slang that would arise among 6 billion people would effectively create new languages within mere decades. And if you think that forcing one version via the media would work you should go and try to have a conversation in english with a scottish teenager.

    I thought we were talking about English for programming, not English for everybody ever in history ever.

    But yes, you're right. I couldn't make heads or tails out of New Zealand English, even though you sit down on the couch there and turn on the TV and it's Friends. (Of course, even here in the US, the "California accent" isn't universal, despite being practically the only accent shown on TV.)



  • Whoa whoa whoa, simmer down there, Mr. Blakey.   One post at a time.

    Now of course all humans can draw metaphors and think abstract things, but it's a matter of HOW.  Language is very crucial to the relations. Let's start you off here: [url]http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Linguistic_relativity[/url]. The absoluteness of the theory is debatable, but scroll down the find evidence of its influence.

    (Also, I'm fairly certain you are misrepresenting Chomsky's conclusion, but this is really outside my domain expertise.)

    The doctors using Latin has nothing to do with a discussion of
    forcing everyone to express themselves only with a certain
    well-understood set of metaphors.

    Regarding computer languages: regardless of purposes, it's educational and edifying to learn multiple languages specifically because they help you think of problems in different ways!  Functional vs imperative vs declarative, using one over the other will fundamentally change the way you solve problems.  Relating to the world through language does the very same thing.  Easier to experience it than explain it... 



  • @Xyro said:

    Whoa whoa whoa, simmer down there, Mr. Blakey.   One post at a time.

    Sorry I only had a trackpad. Didn't feel like copying-and-pasting 40,000 krajillion times.

    @Xyro said:

    Now of course all humans can draw metaphors and think abstract things, but it's a matter of HOW.

    That's all you need. All languages can do it, the only difference is the number of words. Oh, and hey, guess what? Languages evolve too, so if something takes a lot of words to explain, it generally gets a new much shorter word for it. So we're taken care of. Ain't we humans awesome?

    @Xyro said:

    (Also, I'm fairly certain you are misrepresenting Chomsky's conclusion, but this is really outside my domain expertise.)

    Well, Chomsky is confusing as hell. So maybe I am.

    @Xyro said:

    The doctors using Latin has nothing to do with a discussion of
    forcing everyone to express themselves only with a certain
    well-understood set of metaphors.

    But it has everything to do with declaring English as the domain-specific language for the programming domain.

    @Xyro said:

    Functional vs imperative vs declarative, using one over the other will fundamentally change the way you solve problems.

    Possibly, but you could in theory do that in a single language. (I don't know of any single languages off the top of my head, although JavaScript comes close, and C# with LINQ comes even closer.)

    If you're arguing that people should solve problems in multiple different ways, I agree entirely. But that has nothing (necessarily) to do with having them use multiple languages to do it.

    @Xyro said:

    Easier to experience it than explain it...

    Yah, whenever I hear something like that, the "ding ding ding this person doesn't know what they're talking about" alarm goes off in my head. Like when people use the phrase "dumbed down." Just FYI.

    Odds are, whatever our opinions on language, we agree on this point: if you can't describe it, you haven't thought about it long enough.



  • @blakeyrat said:

    Wiki says Dutch has about 22 million speakers. How is localization from larger companies, like Microsoft and Apple?

    It's hit or miss. I work at Apple and a large portion of my team are native French speakers. They tell me that they can't use our app in French because parts of it are so poorly translated. (Like the verb "track" is replaced with the noun "track" in one menu item, for example.) But other parts of the OS and other apps we sell are apparently just fine, according to them.

    I always wonder about the economics of a company like Wacom, how many of the hardware they sell vs. cost of localization... I'd like to see their numbers.

    I worked on some Wacom products about 10 years ago. It was a set of Photoshop plugins, and they were translated into something like 6 or 8 other languages, including Brazilian Portuguese, which I was a little surprised was worth their time to do. But I'm sure they wouldn't have done it if it wasn't going to pay for itself.



  • @b-redeker said:

    Not a dev tool, but still annoying: the function names in Excel. I've used Dutch versions of Excel, and not only do suddenly CSV files not work (unless you go through the import wizard), but all functions have different names, so vlookup suddenly changes to vert.zoeken or something (I never remember). To prevent this and similar annoyances, I want English versions only. Thank you.

    Omfg yes. At work I use the Dutch version, and this being Belgium half of my colleagues use the French version. I can stumble through the Dutch but in French I'm lost. Most translation blunders are due to a lack of communication between the developers and the translators (with no computer knowledge) but this was intentional.

    @pbean said:

    But as I said, I think the whole world should just switch to one language. Having so many languages is just not modern and a destruction of capital (decapitalization? I don't know the correct word - in any case, a big waste of money), if you ask me.

    +1. However I can see a duopoly emerge with English and Chinese as the two world languages - pretty much the two most different languages in the world. In theory the Chinese should yield because the Latinic script is much more object oriented but they have a numerical majority and are soon the only economic world power.

    @Xyro said:

    The destruction of culture is worse, though.  English is a nice language and all, save some much-needed spelling reform, but it would be a pitty for all others to become lost and forgotten...

    A big bang introduction would fail, but the national languages could be phased out over the course of one generation. The 'lost and forgotten' languages would be preserved by linguistics. If you think tradition should supersede progress, sell your car and buy a Beetle.

    @serguey123 said:

    No, I agree, even if we were to brainwash the entire population of Earth into choosing one language, they will create dialects to antagonize "us" against "them".  As someone said, we define ourselves in opposition to others.

    I'm an idealist so I think that we will evolve into beings that won't be bothered by our differences and be more focused on our commonalities.  I expect this to happen before we kill ourselves or <ref/ Star_Gate become balls of light intent on making everybody else worship us  />

    As long as everyone is taught the official language at school the dialects wouldn't matter. The actual problem is that this would require a world government (or at least several major governments working together) and the New West has decided governments are evil and should be shot with hollow point bullets, the Old West has sunken into communism and immobility, and the East tends to follow a variant of nationalist state capitalism resembling the economic policies of the Third Reich.



  • @blakeyrat said:

    Odds are, whatever our opinions on language, we agree on this point: if you can't describe it, you haven't thought about it long enough.

    Wittgenstein (*) argued (*), in effect that

    @http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Tractatus_Logico-Philosophicus#Proposition_6..2A said:

    since logical language can only reflect the world, any discussion of the <FONT color=#0645ad>mystical</FONT>, that which lies outside of the metaphysical subject's world, is meaningless. This suggests that many of the traditional domains of philosophy, e.g. ethics and metaphysics, cannot in fact be discussed meaningfully. Any attempt to discuss them immediately loses all sense. This also suggests that his own project of trying to explain language is impossible for exactly these reasons.

    So what you say only goes for  a certain subset of all topics. And yes, that has everything to do with using multiple languages.

    (*) you may not agree with what he said, but he definitely has a point 

    (**) people argue to this date about what he meant exactly. quoted is the wikified version.



  • If it's about the size of what shows up on the screen, wouldn't Chinese or Japanese be the best language to use?



  • @jasmine2501 said:

    If it's about the size of what shows up on the screen, wouldn't Chinese or Japanese be the best language to use?

    Africans are biggers



  • @blakeyrat said:

    @Xyro said:
    Easier to experience it than explain it...

    Yah, whenever I hear something like that, the "ding ding ding this person doesn't know what they're talking about" alarm goes off in my head. Like when people use the phrase "dumbed down." Just FYI.

    Ok, let's put it this way: by giving a quality a name, it's easier to grapple with it. By given different aspects of the quality different names, you grapple with it differently.  Consider the one English word "love" versus the far more lovely and useful split of agápe, éros, and philía (and storgē) in the Greek.  With the Greek, our very understanding of the concepts become as differentiated as the words.  (Aside: imo our culture gets these concepts very very very mixed up.  I wouldn't blame it on the language, but I'm sure it doesn't help.)  Consider thinking about solving problems with BASIC versus solving problems with a very high-level object-oriented language.  Whole conceptual frameworks are formed and torn down depending on the metaphors your given.  You can still solve the basic problem, but your understanding of its solution is different!  Consider expressing yourself without the use of modern metaphors (like alarm bells, as you used), as if you time-traveled to the bad old days.  You'd still have a sense of alert, but you'd lose the picture.  You could substitute in a guard's call or sentinel's horn, but ultimately it's a different picture and you do different things with that picture; you relate to the feeling differently, you think about the alertness differently.  The loss of these concepts is not something we should cheer for.

    In any case, here's a excerpt from article I linked.  It's right in the intro; I'd recommend further research if you (or whoever) believe that language is merely the verbal serialization of thought.@TFA said:

    Currently a balanced view of linguistic relativity is espoused by most
    linguists holding that language influences certain kinds of cognitive
    processes in non-trivial ways
    but that other processes are better seen
    as subject to universal factors.



  • @Xyro said:

    Ok, let's put it this way: by giving a quality a name, it's easier to grapple with it. By given different aspects of the quality different names, you grapple with it differently.  Consider the one English word "love" versus the far more lovely and useful split of agápe, éros, and philía (and storgē) in the Greek.

    So you're arguing it's impossible for me to feel "philía" because my language doesn't have a word for it? Because that strikes me as just dumb. (Ignoring, for the moment, that it does: "brotherly love". The Wikis sez so.)

    @Xyro said:

    Consider thinking about solving problems with BASIC versus solving problems with a very high-level object-oriented language.  Whole conceptual frameworks are formed and torn down depending on the metaphors your given.  You can still solve the basic problem, but your understanding of its solution is different!

    So? The problem is solved either way, right? Who gives a shit about "your understanding of the solution" (whatever that means) if the problem is solved?

    @Xyro said:

    Consider expressing yourself without the use of modern metaphors (like alarm bells, as you used), as if you time-traveled to the bad old days.  You'd still have a sense of alert, but you'd lose the picture.  You could substitute in a guard's call or sentinel's horn, but ultimately it's a different picture and you do different things with that picture; you relate to the feeling differently, you think about the alertness differently.

    Ok; so we're in a world with no alarm bells. How would I "relate to the feeling differently?" How would I "think about the alertness differently"? What the fuck do those things even mean?

    You're off in vaguesville here, I need something concrete to grip onto.



  • Well, it's been proven that without language we don't even have a sense of self.  So we need language to be able to think.  Whether different languages affect our ability to think is nearly impossible to conclude because culture is at least as important in that regard.

     I am not, however, a linguist, psychologist, or philosopher, so can we get back to whether or not curly-braces go on their own line?



  • @serguey123 said:

    @jasmine2501 said:

    If it's about the size of what shows up on the screen, wouldn't Chinese or Japanese be the best language to use?

    Africans are biggers

     

    I don't think we are talking about that.

     

     



  • Hmm I had not expected that my one post would derail this entire thread into a very interesting discussion!

    To be really honest, I've never really put much thought into it, let alone research. I just see language as a tool for communication, so person A can communicate certain events and such to person B. But as you can see there is a problem when person A and person B understand different languages. Then there is no way for them to communicate, unless either of them learns the other's language or there is an intermediate (like a translator) which understands both languages.

    I really don't see the problem about that we would be unable to express certain concepts, simply because some of the currently existing languages do not have words for concepts that have words in other languages. Surely, a language that would describe all or most aspects of the world would be able, in some way or other, to describe those concepts. And if one were to stumble on a yet "unworded" concept, one would simply request to the Department of Language the introduction of a new word describing the concept. Even more so, all concepts which were given as examples are useless, because I was able to understand their meanings by reading English definitions or descriptions of the concept.

    In fact, for ages new words have been introduced for new concepts, why would this be impossible when there is only one language? Dutch has tonnes of words taken from English, German, French, Greek, etc. And so do those languages. If we would adopt English as a global language, we'd just have to introduce those words into English (perhaps by transliteration or transforming the word so it better fits into the English language).

    About accents and the evolution of language, that's the reason why it should be controlled, governed. If you just teach English in all parts of the world without control, then it will evolve over time and new languages will form from the different accents. But new words and new slang should be proposed to the Department of Language for introduction to the language. Every year new words enter the Dutch dictionary, words that were first thought of on the street, were then posted on blogs and websites, and finally ended up in publications, before being put in the dictionary. If new words are used commonly, they could just be introduced into the language and then thaught at schools. To prevent different accents we could just make video or audio recordings of the "correct" accent and use it as learning aids.

    But then again I'm no scholar and don't really know anything about language. I guess I'm just shortsighted when I don't see the problems.

    @blakeyrat said:

    BTW, do the non-English-native speakers in here understand a word I'm typing? I never think about using things like "rail on"... I have no idea if that means anything to anybody other than me.

    That depends on their level of English. I've been exposed to English since I was quite young, so I know a lot of English expressions and can read most English fairly well, although from time to time I come across a word or expression I've never seen before. But then again, that happens in Dutch too, when I talk to someone from another part of the country (and it's worse when I talk to my friends in Scotland, they have some weird words and expressions that I'm sure only they use). But if someone's only experience with English is through school, there's a big chance they won't understand certain expressions (but will probably understand the general meaning of what one is trying to get across and in the process learn the expression).

    But it's safe to say that most non-English-native speakers on teh interwebz know enough English to understand forum discussions. :)



  • We often find chinglish amusing because the people that wrote it must have been deadly serious when they wrote it but they used concepts that don't translate well.  What must have been a perfectly cogent sentence in Chinese or Japanese becomes a muddle in English.

    I went to China just before the Olympics.  You may already know that each Chinese character is a pictogram with a story of its own.  Using different characters can add subtle layers of meaning to the same spoken words.  So when they write something, they are encoding more information about what the writer was thinking.

    The Chinese Olympic slogan was usually translated as "One World, One Dream."  But I saw an alternative translation that was: "Global Civilization Share Dream."  I'm sure that the original Chinese words actually meant something different to each of these English translations but describing that would take much more than a simple translation.

    The other thing I remember was a simple rubbish bin on the streets of Beijing.  It had the standard sort of stick-figure symbol, a little strip of Chinese and a little strip of English.  The English was: "Beautiful appreciation of the situation begins here."  I'm sure that was a beautiful poem in Chinese before it was mangled into English.

    Somehow I don't think Google translate is going to translate "Beautiful appreciation" into something like "pick up uour trash."  But it does mean that Chinese people are thinking about different concepts when they look at that trash bin.



  • @Qwerty said:

    We often find chinglish amusing because the people that wrote it must have been deadly serious when they wrote it but they used concepts that don't translate well.  What must have been a perfectly cogent sentence in Chinese or Japanese becomes a muddle in English.
     




  • @OzPeter said:

    @pbean said:
    Why? What inherent value does a language have other than maybe sounding nice or having a rich history?
    There are concepts that are directly expressible in Language A that are virtually impossible to simply express in language B. Losing the ability to express such things would be tragic. As an example: Saudade




    +1



    Another example I can throw in is an analysis of one of my most favorite phrases, from Saint-Exupéry's Le Petit Prince: "on ne voit bien qu'avec le coeur...": http://www.cjvlang.com/petitprince/foxsecret/heartseef.html. The 'essay' there about the phrase is pretty elementary but I think it still does a good job of showing how difficult it is to convey the same meaning in another language... and this is only HALF of the sentence from the book--a sentence I would by no means call complex or anything like that. If you go to the bottom there are links comparing translations of the phrase in different languages and I have to say that for me, none of the English translations even come close to the original French version in what they convey (and no it is not just a matter of the French "sounding better", etc.).



    So to me, languages are a lot more than preserving history. I flat out refuse to read English translations of French classics and instead have struggled with the original-language versions, despite being 100x harder for me, just because I know how much is lost in the translations (which is still a lot more than I will lose in my less-than-perfect comprehension of the French language).



  • @Xyro said:

    You could substitute in a guard's call or sentinel's horn, but ultimately it's a different picture and you do different things with that picture; you relate to the feeling differently, you think about the alertness differently.  The loss of these concepts is not something we should cheer for.

    First, one spoken language wouldn't require these be lost.  An intelligently designed language could contain all of the concepts.

    Second, even if you restrict yourself to English, it seems most English speakers don't even understand 10% of their language.  Scratch that.  Apparently, most English collegiate dictionaries don't even contain 10% of the English language, and most English speakers don't even know most of the words in a typical collegiate dictionary.  So we fail before we even begin.

    By the way - we do have words for the different kinds of love: agape, eros, and the -phile suffix.  They may not be in the subset of the language that *you* know, but they are part of the language.

    Edit: to clarify: just because an intelligently designed language containing all concepts currently found in human languages does not mean that current human beings could effect such a language.  Unfortunately, I personally believe it is beyond us.  We may eventually evolve to the point where we can; we may be able to eventually write computer software that would sufficiently aid us as we are now.  But until we do one of those things, any "intelligently designed" language effort is doomed to fall short of the "all concepts in currently spoken languages" mark.  I only made point one first, because after point two, point one is moot.



  • @El_Heffe said:

    @serguey123 said:
    Africans are biggers
     I don't think we are talking about that.

    <spoilsport alert="true">

    In a way, this is exactly what we're talking about.

    Consider everything that's contained in those three words. There's a whole world behind them; a mere academic knowledge of English won't suffice to say why that response made sense to the original statement, or even why you said what you said. Now imagine this is a menu option or a text on a dialog - how are you going to translate this into Arabic or Chinese?

    So now the next question. Can we design a logical language with every concept in the world? We'll have to introduce a word or a set of words to convey what was said here. But can we really? For instance, was there an overtone of racism in that sentence? I'm pretty sure we can find someone who thinks so, and another person who vehemently disagrees. So what seems like a simple three-word sentence, will most likely be impossible to cover in our perfect language. Hence, it isn't perfect.

    We'll have to accept that language is a very crude tool, woefully inadequate to represent anything but the simplest and most real of concepts - as soon as you move into abstract concepts, it's even worse. Consider a stupid sentence like "I love you man - no homo". As soon as somebody says that you start thinking - so what are you, homophobe or gay? But if you could use the Greek word στοργή, suddenly, there is no misunderstanding, the overtones go away.

    As to everyone using one language with a Central Comittee ratifying new words; great idea. I propose we use Chinese, as that is the most widely spoken language. Added benefit is that we can rid of Engrish, although there might initially be some Chinglish. But at least they can have their fun too. On the other hand, if we can't decide on whether to use Mandarin or Yue or one of the other (wildly different) dialects, we can always switch to Hindi. In IT, that may be even more useful.



  •  Again, you guys give examples of concepts that could not be translated, but also give examples of what they could mean in English. There are words and expressions in other languages which have no equivalence in other languages, but that does not mean they cannot be described in those languages. And even if they couldn't, the language is simply incomplete and should be extended. You're thinking inside a box here, contained in the present, but not looking in the future. You suppose, for example, that French contains certain words which do not exist in English, so if French were to be replaced with English, we wouldn't be able to express ourselves well enough. But as I noted before, why not just introduce those words or similar words describing the same concept into the English language? Problem solved.

    Let's take a word mentioned earlier, Saudade, which apparently is difficult to translate to English. But it can be described in English. Maybe in a sentance, or maybe you would need an entire book to describe it. But we can just take that word, Saudade, from Brazillian Portuguese and introduce it into English, giving it the meaning of its description. Because really, that's what words are.

    Let's take an example for which English does have a word, "house". Now imagine a language which does not have an equivalent word for house, how would you tell someone in that language what you mean? Depending on the context, you would probably describe it as a building someone can live in. But if that description or the concept ("a building someone can live in") is used more often, they will make up their own word for it. Perhaps "house", because you introduced them to the concept and the English word. Perhaps they'll make their own word, who knows.

    Also, concepts are not bound by language. It's not because language exists, concepts exists. Even if now language had a word for "house", or perhaps "tiger", houses and tigers would still exist regardless of whether there are words for them. The same with "Saudade"... just because my language doesn't have a word for that concept, does not mean that I cannot grasp that concept or that I cannot experience the emotion the word describes.

    And finally, I read most books in English too, because the translations are worse than the original. For example some (typically Brittish) jokes just don't work in Dutch. But you're forgetting something very important with this point. You're looking at the situation of the present, not of the future. Older French books could still exist, and the French language could still exist, but just not used for communication. You could still learn French and read old French books, if you liked. But new books would be written in English, since English is then the global language. And you would have no problem with translations being wrong or translations not being as good as the original, since there is only one language to write books in. And once again, if there would be need to describe certain concepts in literature, new words would arise quickly enough to describe them (such as Saudade).



  • @pbean said:

     Again, you guys give examples of concepts that could not be translated, but also give examples of what they could mean in English. There are words and expressions in other languages which have no equivalence in other languages, but that does not mean they cannot be described in those languages. [...] But we can just take that word, Saudade, from Brazillian Portuguese and introduce it into English, giving it the meaning of its description.

    Apparently not: "In fact, one can have 'saudades' of someone with which one is, but have some feeling of loss towards the past or the future." [Wikipedia]



  • pbean, I believe what you're looking for is called "Human language".  It has a gigantic vocabulary, and its grammar is quite complex as it depends on which vocabulary you use.  As the superset of all our languages, it can contain all communicable concepts, including all new concept handles (words) which are imported automatically.  Fortunately or unfortunately, it does not have governing oversight, but it nevertheless can be learned and taught.

    We could reform this language to use a strict subset of concept handles, such to greatly reduce the overwhelming redundancy of the vocab.  We would loose a great deal of unique features in this culling, I suspect, as there is not a 1:1 match of words to mark as redundant.  Perhaps a better strategy would be to broaden our exposure to its vocab rather than strict its vocab to our exposure.  

    Every once in a while, you can find a play on words that can translate between languages. Quick examples: in the story of Adam and Eve, the name "Adam" sounds a lot like "earth" or "dirt" in Hebrew.  One of my old professors remarked that if we want a more accurate translation of the story, we could translate his name as "Dusty".  In the same vein is the meaning of the word "house".  These days it's pretty much entirely structural, but we still recognize its meaning of a family line.  With this in mind, the phrase "House of God" suddenly has two important meanings; the interplay between the two meanings in old Biblical texts is very relevant.  (Poe used the same interplay in "The Fall of the House of Usher" as well as other similar untranslatable puns.)  "House" is nice because its double meaning is recognized in a large number of languages, but it is not common in this.  Sadly, most puns of this nature do not survive translation and would not occur to the reader without background knowledge.  How much more would be lost with such a strict subset of Human language to use...


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