I was pointed at this lament from Microsoft engineer Michael Kaplan (not to be confused with Mozilla hacker Mike Kaply) about the problem of the localization of Microsoft products into regional variants of languages (e.g. Mexican Spanish or British English). It says:
And despite all the lip service (pun intended) that people pay to the need to support “local experiences”, despite complaints from former MSFTies like Mike Williams or not-yet-quite-former MSFTies like me, despite the work of cartoons like Darby Conley’s Get Fuzzy with the multitude of cats who visit from non-US English speaking places like Manchester that many can’t understand and even more random references, no one thinks the problem is bad enough to bother with.
No one wants to “get” the problem here though.
How many days would [Microsoft executives] have to use products while they struggle to understand the words before it would become a mandate to care about local experiences in all of the other places that English, Spanish, French, German, Italian, Chinese, etc. are spoken besides the few places we localize to….
But to be honest I don’t see how it could be accomplished. And since no one gets made an executive by finding ways to have stuff cost more money, the problem perpetuates itself.
Well, Mike, I can tell you how to accomplish it. You need a community that rocks, and an understanding that, as Mitchell Baker and John Lilly wisely said in a recent interview, paying “the experts” to do something does not guarantee quality.
For Firefox 3.5, we have two versions of English, two of Portuguese, two of Bengali, two of Norwegian, two of Tamil and an unprecendented four of Spanish. Heck, there’s even another version of Catalan in the works (although not for 3.5), a language with only about 10 million speakers. Of course, we always want to do more. If Firefox isn’t available in the language variant used in your region, why not tax the incredible powers of the l10n-drivers by offering to do a localization for your region? After all, they seem to find coping with 74 pretty easy, so we need to stretch them a bit… ;-)