UK/US English - What to do?

Subject: UK/US English - What to do?
From: Scott Browne <sbrowne -at- UNICOMP -dot- NET>
Date: Fri, 7 May 1999 16:38:04 -0500

I've searched the archives and didn't find this particular dilemma
discussed anywhere.

Our company has already decided on a course of action, but I thought I
would throw this out as a new topic for discussion and to give you
something to think about.

THE BACKGROUND:
We have made a deal with a French software company to absorb/merge one of
their products into ours and do all the selling, marketing, and future
development for them. (They were tired of doing it themselves).

The software package, although developed in France, is designed in English
(menus, dialog boxes, etc.)

THE DILEMMA:
British English spellings were used in the interface. No documentation
currently exists for this application.

THE QUESTION:
Because this product will be marketed to an American audience, should the
docs use US English spellings, or should it use the same UK English
spellings which the user will actually see on the interface?

For example, one item is labelled the "Colours Palette". Should the docs
read:

"To access the Colours Palette, click Display>Colours Palette."

or should it read:

"To access the Color Palette, click Display>Color Palette." (even though
it's spelled the other way on the screen).

If the latter choice is made, I sincerely doubt a user will say to
himself, "Hmmm, I don't see the 'Color Palette' option on the Display
menu...all I can find is one called 'Colours Palette' but that's not the
same thing..." or, "Well the docs tell me how to change 'Window Behavior',
but how do I work with the program's 'Window Behaviour' function?" You get
the idea.

So, what would you do? Document the menus and functions as they actually
appear on the screen - with UK spellings? Or use US spellings?


Disregard the option of rewriting the application code to use American
English.



Scott
sbrowne -at- unicomp -dot- net
-----------------------------------------------------------
"Writing is like Prostitution. First you do it for
the love of it, then you do it for a few friends,
and finally, you do it for the money." -Moliere

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