Korean Translation Tip (Follow-Up): There’s a Translation Error in the Korean Windows 7 Interface, Too!

Recently I posted a Korean translation error from the Google Android mobile interface. This week I found an error in the Windows 7 interface, and this one’s a little obnoxious… Windows 7 has been out for, um… a couple or three years already and they still haven’t noticed this? Who’s doing language QA over at Microsoft anyway?

8-27-2012 12-09-02 AM

The circled text says “source file”. 

That has no correllation whatsoever with the text that should be there. Here’s what the English interface shows for the exact same screen:

8-27-2012 12-54-14 AM

This message though is a translation minefield since they’ve combined the title line and first line below it into a single English sentence structure (i.e. “Deleting 20,155 items (22.3 GB) from Recycle Bin.”)

In this case, the most suitable translation in Korean is to split it into two sentences (which is actually what’s been done in the Korean), with the “from Recycle Bin” being reworded as “휴지통 비움” or something similar which means “emptying Recycle Bin“. Note that the bold text goes first in Korean, not second as in the English (a problem which is related to the Google one last time!)

Anyway, all kinds of things could have gone wrong here.. Perhaps Microsoft sent an Excel file of thousands of interface messages off to some translation team expecting that 10,000 words of contextless computer messages should cost the same as a 10,000-word piece of prose. This meant that the translators were rushing through the work. Or maybe Microsoft neglected to send screenshots for all those phrases. Likely, the Korean word “source file” got into the translation somehow inadvertently and the in-software review at the end of the project didn’t catch it.

Best Practices Tip: Please budget adequately for software translations. They can be time-consuming to do correctly and there’s just no way around it if you want a good job. Be especially careful of split sentences like that appearing in the screen above!

Considering the challenges of getting everything right, is it any surprise a mistake like this slipped through?

What’s even more surprising though is that the error is still there after 2-3 years of Windows Updates… What do they fix in those Windows Updates? Sometimes I think they do them just to slow my computer down.

* For more of these, check out A Collection of Korean Translation Errors in the User Interfaces of Leading Software.

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