Why l10n should be involved in UI redesign

Take a look at this mock-up of the new Privacy panel: looks great, doesn’t it? But for me it’s just a l10n nightmare.


When you localize software, you have two possibilities (at least in Italian):

  • be informal and use the second-person singular
  • be formal and use passive forms and third-person singular

The second one is the obvious choice for professional translations, and we chose this path for our localization. This means that you should also try to avoid software personification: actions are done by (or with) the software, software’s name shouldn’t be used as a subject in sentences.

“Firefox will” is a bad choice for another reason: many languages don’t use auxiliary verbs to create future forms, so how can I translate that? Ok, I could try to find a suitable auxiliary verb, for example “deve” (must). “Firefox must: remember history/never remember history”. And there I’m stuck again: in negative forms, the “not” should go before the auxiliary verb:

  • Firefox deve salvare la cronologia (Firefox must remember history)
  • Firefox non deve mai salvare la cronologia (Firefox must never remember history)

The purpose of this rant is: please try to involve l10n in UI redesign, and try to land this massive changes before a string freeze.

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3 thoughts on “Why l10n should be involved in UI redesign

  1. I agree that the solution is horrible, but still you can change the whole sentence a bit to preserve the meaning.
    Firefox deve: dimenticare sempre la cronologia
    This is a workaround more than a solution because you are right about the wrong attitude the UX team had regarding this dialog.

  2. “Dimenticare” (to forget) implies that you’ve remembered for some time, and that’s not the case. I know, it’s just a subtleness, but you know me 😉

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