Translating GUI labels to French

Subject: Translating GUI labels to French
From: "Carol Kiparsky" <carolk -at- satmetrix -dot- com>
To: <techwr-l -at- lists -dot- techwr-l -dot- com>
Date: Wed, 29 Aug 2007 13:45:56 -0700

Are you familiar with how computer programs look in French? If so, I need your advice:

I have just had a set of resource files translated to French by a localization vendor. These files contain the text that will populate buttons, labels, and messages in the product's GUI. We used the translated files to build a French version of the product, and sent it off to a French-speaking colleague to review.

To my dismay, he pronounced it a very bad translation. The disagreements were in most cases a matter of degree of explicitness. The vendor had used a 'telegraphic' French, much the way we do in English when we label things on a computer program.

For example,

French English (original)
====== ==================
Vendor: Paramètres Page "Page Parameters"
Reviewer: Paramètres de la page

Vendor: Sauvegarder filter "Save Filter"
Reviewer: Sauvegarder le filtre

I am wondering if this is just a case of two different but equally valid conventions, or if one or the other represents the accepted way to do this in French GUIs. Like the difference between "Save the filter" and "Save Filter" as the label for a button in an English-language application.

Notes: * Capitalization was also an issue, see examples.
* The audience for this application is business users, typically market researchers, executives, sales reps....




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