Language and Locality Support in Software and Devices

Little late posting this… but read earlier in the week about a bunch of Smart Meters receiving an update and ending up set into Welsh language which baffled lots of users.

BBC: Bulb smart meter displays in England switch to Welsh language

I’m surprised there is support for Welsh language on these devices - makes sense they do and actually if supplied in Wales then legally they probably have to!

So out of interest, what others Smart devices have you come across with Welsh language support? Is multiple language support a primary consideration for anyone on this forum when they come to develop products?

It is very much for the public sector. This comes up in almost every procurement. I’ve been speaking to some local companies that are looking to expand into global markets too about internationalising and localising their products.

Interesting topic guys - I work in the Welsh Language software area and think that most of the time - Localisation of software is an afterthought but it should be thought of in the design stage (not only Welsh ) but all languages, we are at risk of creating digital exclusion if we only develop software for major languages and forget the less resources languages.

Funny thing is I think some companies are further forward than others and they tend to be the Open Source Companies such as Mozilla - although Microsoft have been good so far but I guess that’s because the Welsh government uses there software.

So far I have not seen any SMART Products that support Welsh apart from the one in the BBC article , and certainly there is not a lot of support for a Welsh Alexa/Siri or Google Now.

I am quite keen on this subject so would be interested in dicusssing further

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Localisation of software should be really high up in Priority on all new Software and Product Requirements Specifications. Users expect it now.

Interesting view on digital exclusion. Never thought about it that way!

The other aspect is that internationalising and localising code forces certain disciplines and patterns that are arguably good practice too. One interesting aspect of this is to consider the differences between internationalising user interfaces vs content and data models. Then there’s the question of editorial control and change management. It’s very common as @stefanoghazzali can attest to, for the completeness and accuracy of different language versions of UI and content to be out of sync too. Language packs end up having differing versions in the same product release.

We should put on a workshop looking at this. There’s some interesting stuff that can be done to make this an easier thing to take on.

Following this thread with interest too… ! I/We/Papertrail are scoping out the requirements at the moment for properly internationalising. We would like to use the Welsh Language as a use case. I agree with the comment above, it could be seen as digital exclusion, however when building a software application it doesn’t feature a priority in the early stages (getting users is the priorty), it is only later on, when you achieve a better product / Market fit you start to think about other territories that could use the application…

As Papertrail embarks on the journey to internationise i am happy to keep anyone interested and up to speed on how we are approaching it.

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Interesting to hear that language support/internationalism isn’t a feature early on. The products the company I work for have been putting language support as high priority feature in new products for the last few years. This has helped shape Frameworks, language choices, early on designs and even influenced choices between bare metal code and choosing more power and an OS. The biggest problem for us has been technical translations!

A group worth being aware of when it comes to language technology is the Languages Technologies Unit at Canolfan Bedwyr at Bangor University.

Amongst many other things they run the Welsh National Language Technologies Portal and develop Cysgliad a software package for your computer which includes the Cysgeir dictionaries and the Cysill spelling and grammar checker.

There’s also an online version Cysill Ar-lein which also has API Access.

Will have to get @stefanoghazzali and co to come along to an event to talk about what they are up to.

Kind words Carwyn, defo up for doing a talk or workshop in the autumn after the eisteddfod hopefully can get our lead developers along too, they know the hard core tech, I am more of the advocate.

Ben looking forward to meeting on Tuesday and agree with your point about users but see localisation as a method of increasing your user Base from day 1, your not just limiting yourself to the countries that speak English. Mandarin, Hindi, Spanish would also be on my list of initial day 1 languages.

I worked for the European Commission in Brussels. Most of the output, paper or electronic, is limited to English, French and German versions and, occasionally, Spanish. Budgets and timescales preclude publication in all the languages of the EU but most Europeans have these languages at least as a second language. From a legal and editorial control point of view, the French text is definitive, as, inevitably, errors and omissions occur during the translation process. In technical domains, it’s a nightmare finding staff capable of understanding the original text, let alone translating it into another language, particularly if the text contains innovative concepts and vocabulary.


A further point that occurred to me is that there is one more step. Once you have the translation, you need to have it verified by a third party, preferably a native speaker of the target language. You have to be sure the translator did a good job. Again, in a technical domain, this third person will need a certain technical level of comprehension. It’s not enough just to look for grammar or syntax mistakes. You need also to be sure that the text makes sense. This can be quite challenging, look at many of the “manuals” that come from the Far East, for example. Often, apparent errors in translation can be due to the original text being unclear and in need of revision. Translation is a process and not an event. It’s also potentially a serious business opportunity, if you can find the contacts.