Internationalisation is harder than you think

Making your software work in different languages isn't easy. Visiting Madrid in April 2014, I tried to buy a ticket at Sol station for a Madrid commuter train, Renfe Cercanías.

OK, so the ticket machine's initial display is in Spanish, and my Spanish is pretty much non-existent. But look! There's a helpful button that looks like you can change the interface language.

Initial screen

Let's see if it does English.

Initial screen in English

Well, almost. It would have helped if it had translated the ticket types too. Never mind, let's take a stab at Adulto Ida meaning Adult One-way.

Choose destination

Right, we're obviously choosing the destination here. Thanks to Google, I now know that the screen title and button labels have switched to Basque. Never mind, choose a destination.

How many tickets?

OK, we're still in Basque at the 'How many tickets' screen. Can I switch it back to English?

How many tickets? in English

Yes, I can. At this point I must admit I was looking for instruction on what to do next. Eventually I figured out the machine was waiting for me to deposit money. I'd like a receipt. I can't see how to get one. Is it possible?

Printing tickets

So now the machine is printing the tickets. Even if I couldn't hear printing noises inside, my French is well up to the task of translating 'Printing your tickets in progress'.

Thanks and goodbye

'Take your tickets, and thanks for travelling with us.'

I think this is an interesting approach to internationalisation. Force your users to expand their knowledge of other languages.

The Australian Federal Government once tried a similar approach.

 
really_doing_internationalisation.txt · Last modified: 2014/04/29 15:30 by jim
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