This blog kicks off with a scary story. Here is a screenshot from a self-service photo printing machine recently installed in a shopping centre near where I live. The cool thing is that it can be used in several different languages. The sad thing is that the language-selection screen is a complete shambles. Look and laugh with me.
There is so much that’s wrong with it, I don’t even know where to start. For one thing, it’s using country flags as symbols for languages, but that’s such a common sin that I might even let them get away with it. But that’s not all.
One thing that’s wrong is the inconsistency. Some language names are in the target language itself (Français, Dansk), some are in English (Italian, Dutch). Some are completely makey-uppy, for example Deutch, a common misspelling of Deutsch, the German for German.
And what on earth is Polak? It’s neither the Polish nor the English for Polish as in the Polish language. It is, however, the Polish for a Polish person. What probably happened here is that some linguistic ignoramus looked up Polish in a dictionary and grabbed the first translation they could find. Or perhaps they meant Polack, the English derogatory term for a Polish person? Anyway, whoever created these captions is obviously the wrong guy for the job.
The biggest mystery of all, though, is the button labelled Kazakhstan. Never mind that fact that Kazakhstan is a country and not a language. But what language do you get when you click it? You get Russian. Yes, Russian. Well, okay, Russian is spoken in Kazakhstan (along with Kazakh, the national language), but what reason is that to label the Russian version like that? By that token, they could just as well have labelled the German version as Luxembourg and the Portuguese version as Mozambique.
The software globalization industry has definitely hit a new low here. This language selector is not only ridiculous but also, depending on where you’re from, insulting. It escapes me how something like this ever actually got to see the light of day, but it did.