Is "please" overused?

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Is "please" overused?

Vito Smolej-3
The question is the use or,  depending on your PoV, overuse of
"please". Specifically it's Thunderbird and Slovenian. But I guess it
applies to any Mozzila application and to any language we've been
supporting.

I know this is a multiple-factors issue, with "cultural" pretty much
at the top. My current decision is to stick to it, but a colleague has
commented the use of "please" in TB as "archaic".  I can't simply
ignore his opinion: he's been instrumental for the OpenOffice.org SL
localization for instance, so there's quite some experience behind his
opinion.

I would thus welcome - across languages and environments -your 2c
about it:  is "please" turning into an expletive, i.e. into something
our customers should better be spared/exposed to to a lesser degree?


TiA

smo
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Re: Is "please" overused?

flod
  Il 02/10/10 09.13, smo ha scritto:
> I would thus welcome - across languages and environments -your 2c
> about it:  is "please" turning into an expletive, i.e. into something
> our customers should better be spared/exposed to to a lesser degree?
In Italian we remove all these courtesy forms (following a professional
localizer's suggestion received years ago):

    * "Please check this" -> "Check this"
    * "Do you really want to delete this?" -> "Delete this?"

We replace all personalizations as well ("Firefox has blocked a
pop-up"->"A pop-up was blocked by Firefox", "Check your add-ons"->"Check
add-ons"), using a formal/impersonal style that's quite far from the
original en-US style.

My 2c is that you should feel free to update your localization style
when necessary ;-)

Francesco

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Re: Is "please" overused?

Eduard Gamonal
hi smo,
in Catalan we have a book of style and agreed to remove "please".
Since we already use formal pronouns, including "please" constantly
would be weird. These formal pronouns are used only when the computer
asks something to the user. When the user inputs something to the
computer, it uses imperatives.

What's more, we remove constructions like "oops, I failed" or "I'm
sorry I couldn't sent the message"  to report an error. We basically
avoid attributing human characteristics to a computer and, like the
italian, we remove possessive pronouns unless they're required.

We have used this book of style for several years in projects like
OpenOffice, Mozilla, Gimp, Gnome,  VLC, etc and it's been written (and
reviewed every several years) by localizers, professional translators,
filologists, engineers, scientists... and it's discussed with the
highest institution in language (Institut d'Estudis Catalans) and the
most important project to accept/reject new words (Termcat).

Edu



On Sat, Oct 2, 2010 at 08:35, flod <[hidden email]> wrote:

>  Il 02/10/10 09.13, smo ha scritto:
>>
>> I would thus welcome - across languages and environments -your 2c
>> about it:  is "please" turning into an expletive, i.e. into something
>> our customers should better be spared/exposed to to a lesser degree?
>
> In Italian we remove all these courtesy forms (following a professional
> localizer's suggestion received years ago):
>
>   * "Please check this" -> "Check this"
>   * "Do you really want to delete this?" -> "Delete this?"
>
> We replace all personalizations as well ("Firefox has blocked a pop-up"->"A
> pop-up was blocked by Firefox", "Check your add-ons"->"Check add-ons"),
> using a formal/impersonal style that's quite far from the original en-US
> style.
>
> My 2c is that you should feel free to update your localization style when
> necessary ;-)
>
> Francesco
>
> _______________________________________________
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> https://lists.mozilla.org/listinfo/dev-l10n
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Re: Is "please" overused?

Marion Gunn
In reply to this post by Vito Smolej-3
  FWIW. I beagan doing Apple and Claris localization work in 1990, at
which  time, I took a conscious decision to eliminate as many as
possible of the instances of "please" from my company's (eGteo) versions
of said software, for 3 reasons: (a) - practical - that extra bit of
text took up a lot of space; (b) - cultural - it seemed a bit  weird for
a machine to be saying thanks to its operator for pushing its buttons;
(c) - logic - it seemed weird that machines only said thanks very
rarely, and said it in circumstances in which one committed oneself to,
for example, paying out money, which made for a large quantitative
mismatch between the number of occurrences of please and thanks.

CC: [hidden email], in case peers there might have other
ideas.

Le dea-mhéin,
mg

Scríobh 02/10/2010 08:13, smo:

> The question is the use or,  depending on your PoV, overuse of
> "please". Specifically it's Thunderbird and Slovenian. But I guess it
> applies to any Mozzila application and to any language we've been
> supporting.
>
> I know this is a multiple-factors issue, with "cultural" pretty much
> at the top. My current decision is to stick to it, but a colleague has
> commented the use of "please" in TB as "archaic".  I can't simply
> ignore his opinion: he's been instrumental for the OpenOffice.org SL
> localization for instance, so there's quite some experience behind his
> opinion.
>
> I would thus welcome - across languages and environments -your 2c
> about it:  is "please" turning into an expletive, i.e. into something
> our customers should better be spared/exposed to to a lesser degree?
>
>
> TiA
>
> smo
> _______________________________________________
> dev-l10n mailing list
> [hidden email]
> https://lists.mozilla.org/listinfo/dev-l10n
>


--

Marion Gunn * eGteo (Estab.1991)

27 Páirc an Fhéithlinn, Baile an

Bhóthair, An Charraig Dhubh,

Co. Átha Cliath, Éire/Ireland

* [hidden email] * [hidden email] *

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Re: Is "please" overused?

Jesper Kristensen-4
In reply to this post by Vito Smolej-3
Den 02-10-2010 09:13, smo skrev:

> The question is the use or,  depending on your PoV, overuse of
> "please". Specifically it's Thunderbird and Slovenian. But I guess it
> applies to any Mozzila application and to any language we've been
> supporting.
>
> I know this is a multiple-factors issue, with "cultural" pretty much
> at the top. My current decision is to stick to it, but a colleague has
> commented the use of "please" in TB as "archaic".  I can't simply
> ignore his opinion: he's been instrumental for the OpenOffice.org SL
> localization for instance, so there's quite some experience behind his
> opinion.
>
> I would thus welcome - across languages and environments -your 2c
> about it:  is "please" turning into an expletive, i.e. into something
> our customers should better be spared/exposed to to a lesser degree?

We also try to remove "please" in the Danish localization. Use of lots
of hollow politeness phrases is very common in American culture, and
en-US Firefox reflects that. (Even through I should know from watching
lots of US movies, I was actually surprised how extreme this use is when
I visited the country this summer) In the Danish culture, such phrases
are not anywhere near that common, and thus the Danish Firefox (and
other apps) localization should reflect that.

Jesper
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Re: Is "please" overused?

Benoit Leseul
In reply to this post by Vito Smolej-3
Le 2/10/2010 09:13, smo a écrit :
> I would thus welcome - across languages and environments -your 2c
> about it:  is "please" turning into an expletive, i.e. into something
> our customers should better be spared/exposed to to a lesser degree?

In French we remove any "Please" which would sound as overpolite and
maybe even a little whiny. Instead of "Please do X", we use some kind of
imperative form ("Veuillez faire X") which would literally translate as
"Have the will to do X" or "You should want to do X".

Like in Catalan, the politeness is implied from using the formal "You".
We also tend to remove most of the possessives like in Italian. The
three language are quite close to each other, so that should not be a
surprise, but it's still interesting to see that we came to the same
conclusions independently.

In the beginning, I think we found advice to do this in an old style
manual for the French language from Sun Microsystems. But if you take
the time to think about it, it makes lot of sense because this kind of
writing is used all over the place on paper forms and written warnings
in the public space.

The reason we are called "localizers" is that we do not only translate
words and sentences as is, but adapt them to local culture and customs
which include using the appropriate tone when (formally) asking someone
to do something.

If you don't have one yet, it would be a good idea to write down the
choices you and the OOo translators made in a style manual (including
other considerations like punctuation, forms to use in menus and
tooltips, how to prevent gender issues if you have that in your
language, common mistakes and false friends, ...). You can then use it
as a reference for further work and to help new contributors.

--
Benoit
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Re: Is "please" overused?

Andras Timar
In reply to this post by Vito Smolej-3
In Hungarian "please" is usually not used in sofware localization (I
could only repeat the arguments that others made earlier in this
thread). There is one expection, however. When we ask for a favour, we
use "please" e.g. "Please, send your feedback".

Regards,
Andras
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Re: Is "please" overused?

Benjamin Smedberg
In reply to this post by Vito Smolej-3
On 10/2/10 3:35 AM, flod wrote:

> We replace all personalizations as well ("Firefox has blocked a pop-up"->"A
> pop-up was blocked by Firefox", "Check your add-ons"->"Check add-ons"),
> using a formal/impersonal style that's quite far from the original en-US style.

That's interesting. English style guides encourage the active voice and
short sentences whenever possible to make the writing more dynamic, even in
"professional" writing. But we should definitely be following standard
writing styles in various languages.

--BDS

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Re: Is "please" overused?

Zbigniew Braniecki-3
In reply to this post by Vito Smolej-3
In Polish we definitely try to avoid as much of "active voice" as
possible. The computer software is a tool and has no free will so it
doesn't sound good when Firefox "does" things.
We tend to use the phrase like "It has been". So instead of "Firefox has
blocked popups" -> "Popups has been blocked".

We also avoid "please" which is replaced by the "polite form":

"Please, update your browser" -> "Your browser should be updated" (or in
fact, "It is recommended to update a/the browser", "Należy zaktualizować
przeglądarkę")

And we remove a lot of "you", "your" since it sounds redundant and
unnecessary. We instead use something that is between english "a" and
"the" since we know which browser we're talking about, or which
bookmarks, or which computer we just refer to it, without the term "your".

I generally believe that it makes all the sense in the world to go as
far from the original script as needed to make entities sound natural to
people. My mental check during translation process is "how would I say
it to my friend in my language" ignoring how it is written in English
and only then I try to check if I can bring it closer to the original.

The greatest challenge is gender here. We change the form of the name
(like Firefox) depending on the gender and role in the sentence. In
result almost every sentence with the brand name would require us to
hardcode the brand name and morph it into "Firefox", "Firefoksa",
"Firefoksowi", "Thunderbirdem".
What we do there is that we overuse the word "program" and declense it:
"&brandShortName; prevented this page" -> "Program &brandShortName;
uniemożliwił tej stronie".

This allows us to declense the word "program" and make it work with any
gender of brandShortName, but it sounds totally artificial :( That's the
only compromise we make from trying to sound humane and natural.

Cheers,
g.
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Re: Is "please" overused?

Marcelo Poli-2
In reply to this post by Vito Smolej-3
Just like other localizations, es-AR localizators agreed to remove "please".
In spanish, we use the formal "Usted" instead of "Tú". These are two
different ways to say "You" and that's enough to show politeness.

El 02/10/10 04:13, smo escribió:
>
> I would thus welcome - across languages and environments -your 2c
> about it:  is "please" turning into an expletive, i.e. into something
> our customers should better be spared/exposed to to a lesser degree?
>
>
> TiA
>
> smo

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Re: Is "please" overused?

Alexandru Szasz
In reply to this post by Vito Smolej-3
 Pe 02.10.2010 10:13, smo a scris:

> The question is the use or,  depending on your PoV, overuse of
> "please". Specifically it's Thunderbird and Slovenian. But I guess it
> applies to any Mozzila application and to any language we've been
> supporting.
>
> I know this is a multiple-factors issue, with "cultural" pretty much
> at the top. My current decision is to stick to it, but a colleague has
> commented the use of "please" in TB as "archaic".  I can't simply
> ignore his opinion: he's been instrumental for the OpenOffice.org SL
> localization for instance, so there's quite some experience behind his
> opinion.
>
> I would thus welcome - across languages and environments -your 2c
> about it:  is "please" turning into an expletive, i.e. into something
> our customers should better be spared/exposed to to a lesser degree?
>

"Please" is found when the user is asked to do something that he usually
didn't want to do (e.g. an authentication forms appear when he wanted to
access a page, he has to wait for the page to load, etc).
Leaving out "please" in these cases transforms the sentence into a
command. People don't want machines giving them commands, e.g: Try again
(I feel an "or else" coming along) instead of Please try again.
Having that in mind, in most cases I keep the "please" in Romanian.

--
Alexandru Szasz
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Re: Is "please" overused?

Robert Kaiser
In reply to this post by Benjamin Smedberg
Benjamin Smedberg schrieb:

> On 10/2/10 3:35 AM, flod wrote:
>
>> We replace all personalizations as well ("Firefox has blocked a
>> pop-up"->"A
>> pop-up was blocked by Firefox", "Check your add-ons"->"Check add-ons"),
>> using a formal/impersonal style that's quite far from the original
>> en-US style.
>
> That's interesting. English style guides encourage the active voice and
> short sentences whenever possible to make the writing more dynamic, even
> in "professional" writing. But we should definitely be following
> standard writing styles in various languages.

Even in German, it's not usual to have impersonal things like computers
and applications "doing" stuff in active voice or even use "My Foo"
titles (the L10n team is adapting those as needed) - and that's with a
language that is quite a near relative to English... ;-)

Robert Kaiser


--
Note that any statements of mine - no matter how passionate - are never
meant to be offensive but very often as food for thought or possible
arguments that we as a community needs answers to. And most of the time,
I even appreciate irony and fun! :)
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Re: Is "please" overused?

Robert Kaiser
In reply to this post by Zbigniew Braniecki-3
Zbigniew Braniecki schrieb:
> The greatest challenge is gender here.

And IIRC, we have some work going on to make that accessible as well -
any progress on L20n, actually?

Robert Kaiser

--
Note that any statements of mine - no matter how passionate - are never
meant to be offensive but very often as food for thought or possible
arguments that we as a community needs answers to. And most of the time,
I even appreciate irony and fun! :)
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Re: Is "please" overused?

Gintautas Grigas
  2010-10-04 22:20, Robert Kaiser rašė:
> Zbigniew Braniecki schrieb:
>> The greatest challenge is gender here.
>
> And IIRC, we have some work going on to make that accessible as well -
> any progress on L20n, actually?
>
> Robert Kaiser
>
Another challenge is grammatical case problem, especially in social
networks and chat programs. In syntetic languages, such as Lithuanian,
Polish, Russian, etc. names must be in correct case depending on
context. The problem is when names appears dynamically, e. g. personal
names. That is like plural forms for numbers, but here the problem is
much harder, because the grammatical rules more complicated that those
with numbers.

Gintautas Grigas
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Re: Is "please" overused?

Robert Kaiser
In reply to this post by Robert Kaiser
Gintautas Grigas schrieb:

> 2010-10-04 22:20, Robert Kaiser rašė:
>> Zbigniew Braniecki schrieb:
>>> The greatest challenge is gender here.
>>
>> And IIRC, we have some work going on to make that accessible as well -
>> any progress on L20n, actually?
>>
>> Robert Kaiser
>>
> Another challenge is grammatical case problem, especially in social
> networks and chat programs. In syntetic languages, such as Lithuanian,
> Polish, Russian, etc. names must be in correct case depending on
> context. The problem is when names appears dynamically, e. g. personal
> names. That is like plural forms for numbers, but here the problem is
> much harder, because the grammatical rules more complicated that those
> with numbers.

One more thing that L20n is actually fixing! Still wonder why I asked
about it? ;-)

Robert Kaiser


--
Note that any statements of mine - no matter how passionate - are never
meant to be offensive but very often as food for thought or possible
arguments that we as a community needs answers to. And most of the time,
I even appreciate irony and fun! :)
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Re: Is "please" overused?

Axel Hecht
On 05.10.10 21:39, Robert Kaiser wrote:

> Gintautas Grigas schrieb:
>> 2010-10-04 22:20, Robert Kaiser rašė:
>>> Zbigniew Braniecki schrieb:
>>>> The greatest challenge is gender here.
>>>
>>> And IIRC, we have some work going on to make that accessible as well -
>>> any progress on L20n, actually?
>>>
>>> Robert Kaiser
>>>
>> Another challenge is grammatical case problem, especially in social
>> networks and chat programs. In syntetic languages, such as Lithuanian,
>> Polish, Russian, etc. names must be in correct case depending on
>> context. The problem is when names appears dynamically, e. g. personal
>> names. That is like plural forms for numbers, but here the problem is
>> much harder, because the grammatical rules more complicated that those
>> with numbers.
>
> One more thing that L20n is actually fixing! Still wonder why I asked
> about it? ;-)

Actually, names are really tricky, as those aren't exposed to localizers
in the common use cases, but stored in dbs. Now, that db would need to
be adapted by locale. nosql might be able to deal with that, but sql is
gonna suffer badly.

In particular if there are names for which the rules don't really work,
but that are just exceptions to them. I bet there are some out there.

Axel
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Re: Is "please" overused?

Robert Kaiser
Axel Hecht schrieb:
> Actually, names are really tricky, as those aren't exposed to localizers
> in the common use cases, but stored in dbs. Now, that db would need to
> be adapted by locale. nosql might be able to deal with that, but sql is
> gonna suffer badly.
>
> In particular if there are names for which the rules don't really work,
> but that are just exceptions to them. I bet there are some out there.

Uh, OK, right, thing from DBs are indeed complicated.

Robert Kaiser


--
Note that any statements of mine - no matter how passionate - are never
meant to be offensive but very often as food for thought or possible
arguments that we as a community needs answers to. And most of the time,
I even appreciate irony and fun! :)
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Re: Is "please" overused?

Vito Smolej-3
All  comments very much appreciated - let me mention explicitely
Gandalf and Alexandru Szasz.

Now that I have you listening (g): one other issue, where I get flak
from fellow localizers, is my way of localizing "...<doing>..."
instances, for example "...searching...", "...deleting messages..."
etc.  These segments are meant as a shorthand for present continuous
("...<somebody is/I am doing>..."), and not for a gerund ("...<the
doing>..."), so I consistently localized to the equivalent of "...<I
am doing>...": for  instance "...iščem..." and not "...iskanje..." for
the "...searching..." example above.

Of course the comments were to the tune of "You make the program talk
to the user, that's ridiculous", but I think, having the gerund, i.e.
substantivized verb,  in places, where something is happening, is even
more ridiculous.

Of course these instances just come and go, usually pretty fast. so
practically speaking, probably no big deal anyhow.   But it would be
unprofessional if I did not try to do the best I can. There's quite a
few of such cases sprinkled through the material, but I would not mind
if I had to switch. I would just need some good arguments to change.

Thanks in advance

PS: I guess one could use "...the program searches..." prototype...
smo

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Re: Is "please" overused?

flod
Il 09/10/10 05.58, smo ha scritto:
> Now that I have you listening (g): one other issue, where I get flak
> from fellow localizers, is my way of localizing "...<doing>..."
> instances, for example "...searching...", "...deleting messages..."
> etc.  These segments are meant as a shorthand for present continuous
> ("...<somebody is/I am doing>..."), and not for a gerund ("...<the
> doing>..."), so I consistently localized to the equivalent of "...<I
> am doing>...": for  instance "...iščem..." and not "...iskanje..." for
> the "...searching..." example above.
In Italian all "-ing…" are localized as "X in progress…" (where X is the
matching noun, not the verb): e.g. "searching…" becomes "search in
progress…". If there are width problems, we remove "in progress" leaving
only the noun (e.g. "search...").

Francesco

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Re: Is "please" overused?

Alexandru Szasz
In reply to this post by Vito Smolej-3
 Pe 09.10.2010 06:58, smo a scris:

> All  comments very much appreciated - let me mention explicitely
> Gandalf and Alexandru Szasz.
>
> Now that I have you listening (g): one other issue, where I get flak
> from fellow localizers, is my way of localizing "...<doing>..."
> instances, for example "...searching...", "...deleting messages..."
> etc.  These segments are meant as a shorthand for present continuous
> ("...<somebody is/I am doing>..."), and not for a gerund ("...<the
> doing>..."), so I consistently localized to the equivalent of "...<I
> am doing>...": for  instance "...iščem..." and not "...iskanje..." for
> the "...searching..." example above.
>
> Of course the comments were to the tune of "You make the program talk
> to the user, that's ridiculous", but I think, having the gerund, i.e.
> substantivized verb,  in places, where something is happening, is even
> more ridiculous.
>
> Of course these instances just come and go, usually pretty fast. so
> practically speaking, probably no big deal anyhow.   But it would be
> unprofessional if I did not try to do the best I can. There's quite a
> few of such cases sprinkled through the material, but I would not mind
> if I had to switch. I would just need some good arguments to change.
>
> Thanks in advance
>
> PS: I guess one could use "...the program searches..." prototype...
> smo
>
>

Those who first start to translate in Romanian, always fall in this trap
and translate things like "starting" with "I am starting".
That's not true, because there's no I. There's a bunch of code that
triggers another code and so on.
Everything starts with the user commanding, like pressing the power
button and expecting to see a working desktop environment after all
these processes.

Another approach is to substantivize, which is worse.


In Romanian this is solved really easy, but I'm not sure how to put it
in English right.
We're using a pronoun that's reflexive, passive and impersonal, „se”.

en: The page is loading.
ro: Se încarcă pagina. (you don't know who's loading the page, there's
no person involved); probably the closest translation would be "Page is
being loaded" (don't know by who, it's just being done).

I see something that looks similar in Catalan:  S'està carregant…  maybe
someone can confirm.
This form is used a lot in real life in Romanian whenever you're saying
that an action is being done in the news like: "work is being done on
the freeway/se muncește la autostradă"

--
Alexandru Szasz
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