A7: Message fragmentation
Preventing fragmentation of messages
Messages and all other forms of UI tend to occupy much storage space. It is only natural that developers try to economize the storage requirement by using some truly inventive techniques, such as, using English phrases or parts of words as building blocks for complete messages.
However, if the final form of a message relies on the composition of several parts, that message may not be translatable at all. Translation can change the order of parts of speech, and words can acquire different forms depending on the context.
Ensure that messages and other UI information are complete sentences; do not construct sentences from parts of sentences; do not construct words from parts of words.
A phrase or word that can be inserted into several English messages may require a different case, gender, or plural ending when translated into other languages. The small amount of space saved cannot compensate for the confusion and trouble caused in translation.
Example: To report the operational status of the peripheral devices, a programmer creates the following two columns of terms:
|Control unit||off line|
By selecting one item from each column, the application can generate 16 messages by just storing 8 terms.Two of these messages would be:
In French, however, the nouns display and control unitare of different gender, thus requiring different forms of the adjective operational:
Example: In English, the word day can be prefixed with the following word fragments to form the seven days of the week:
This technique, however, does not work in most other languages. In the table below, it will not work for Sunday in French and Wednesday in German.
Concatenation of words, phrases or parts of sentences to construct messages often leads to these message fragments being translated independently of each other. While combining these fragments may make sense in English, they may be difficult to translate or will be meaningless when translated in other languages. We recommend that message format functions such as the MessageFormat class in Java be used to produce concatenated messages in a language-neutral way.
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- Guidelines quick reference
- A: User interface
- B: Writing for an international audience
- C: Respect for culture and conventions
- D: Product structure in a globalized environment
- E: Input and output interfaces
- F: Coded character sets
- G: Introducing Asian ideographic scripts
- H: Languages with a bidirectional script
- I: The cursive Arabic script