Translating GUI labels to French?

Subject: Translating GUI labels to French?
From: Geoff Hart <ghart -at- videotron -dot- ca>
To: TECHWR-L <techwr-l -at- lists -dot- techwr-l -dot- com>, Carol Kiparsky <carolk -at- satmetrix -dot- com>
Date: Wed, 29 Aug 2007 18:58:55 -0400

Carol Kiparsky wondered: <<Are you familiar with how computer
programs look in French?>>

Less so than I used to be, but I can hook you up with people who know
more. I have translated French labels into English, and I do
technical French translation, so with that in mind:

<<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.>>

Oops! One useful reality check would be to ask this colleague to send
you some sample screenshots of material that he considers well
translated (e.g., from the French version of Microsoft Office or from
other similar software that he uses). Also note that this doesn't
mean you should fire the localizers; this may be nothing more than a
misunderstanding about what flavor of French you specified (or failed
to specify). This kind of misunderstanding is easy to correct.
Technical errors really aren't, and are arguably a firing offence.

<<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
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.>>

That I can't say, as my expertise is Quebec French, not international
French. But based on that expertise, the reviewer seems closer to
correct than the localizer.

-- Geoff Hart
ghart -at- videotron -dot- ca / geoffhart -at- mac -dot- com
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Translating GUI labels to French: From: Carol Kiparsky

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