Localization: Tricky issue

Vernacular localization: Tricky issue

For a foreigner living in Germany there are several cultural and vernacular differences that you notice straight away, and several more subtle ones that take a while for you to realize, even though they have been staring you in the face the whole time.

Something that is important to get correct from the start is time-keeping. 7:30 is called “halb acht” in German, which translates as “half eight”. While it first appears that the Germans are calling it half to eight instead of half past eight, the reality is they’re saying half of eight. This allows constructs like “drei viertel acht” or “three quarters of eight” for 7:45, and “fünf vor halb acht” or “five to half of eight” for 7:25. This seems perfectly normal in Germany. Eventually. There are several other time-based peculiarities in German, such as the word for “tomorrow” being the same as the word for “morning” (“morgen”), so that if you want to say “tomorrow morning”, you have to say “early tomorrow” (“morgen früh”), whereas if you want to say “this morning”, you have to say “today morning” (“heute morgen”).

Date handling in Germany is standardized in dd.mm.yyyy format instead of dd-mm-yyyy or dd/mm/yyyy. At least it’s not mm/dd/yyyy, which is the bane of my life. Anytime I see 4/6/2010 I have to look for more dates on the same page or document until I find one where the first or second element is greater than 12, or I will have no idea whether it’s an April or June date.

When the number 100.001 is written in English speaking locales it (usually?) means “one hundred point zero zero one”, whereas in Germany, it means “one hundred thousand and one”. 100,001 in Germany means “one hundred point zero zero one”. For a reason I can’t grasp, the German and English localization systems evolved to use exact opposite characters for thousands separation and decimal separation.

Something I didn’t notice until this week though is that currency formatting differs between Ireland and Germany. In Germany the Euro symbol is put after the amount (Except in a badly localized flash ad that’s there now), but in Ireland the symbol is in front of the amount.

Literal or near-literal translation brings more entertainment. Most German people I know have a Chef that they see most days of the week, but who does not cook for them. How’s that for a false friend?

Although most simple sentences similar to “I am hungry” can be translated to “Ich bin hungrig”, it is not correct to translate “I am cold” as “Ich bin kalt”, because that means “I am a cold-hearted person”. Instead it must be “Mir ist kalt”. In the same vein, “How are you” – “I’m good” doesn’t work in German. The “Ich bin gut” means “I’m a morally good person”, which is a non-sequitur in this context. The answer has to be “Mir ist gut” or “Mir geht’s gut”. I also found out that when a waiter asks if I’d like another beer, and I don’t, “No, I’m Ok” doesn’t translate to German very well. Sometimes these things are discovered when the reply is laughter and a “Yeah, we think you’re ok too Steve…”.

My old favorite German term is “krass”, which is pretty much an emphasizer, usually I hear it as a negative, but can be used in a positive too. The weather can be krass. A movie can be “krass lustig”. The best (“krasste”?) moment for krass was when a friend of mine described a particular situation as being “krass krass”. My new favorite German phrase is “Der Hammer!”. Der Hammer is the best thing there is. In en_US that would be ‘Da Bomb!’ I guess.

Gut > Besser > Am Besten > Der Hammer

On top of all the peculiarities and differences in expression, native speakers of English living in or visiting Germany are called “native speakers”. To me “native” means “indigenous to the current geography”, so I still find that a bit weird.

It’s not that English doesn’t have it’s fair share of peculiarities. Why does inflammable mean flammable, for a common example? Even within English there are wild deviations from the norm. That’s a great article by the way. If you want to know what “long monophthongs are often dipthongized, and while some diphthongs are tripthongized” means, take a break from the MeeGo conference and go to Moore Street for “Bananids five for a pow-und”. A notable omission from the Lexicon on the page though is ‘fierce’, which translates to German as approximately ‘krass’. With all that, it’s not uncommon for natives of the Queens English to have problems understanding Hiberno-English, and not just because of the accent. Check this Video with NSFW Audio to more from the Wexford Lexicon without the accent and see if you can make any sense of it.

The point is that localization issues are things we encounter everyday, within and without computer systems but they have to be handled in computer systems too.

Mann, eh?

Abstract localization: Tricky issue

For Qt developers the first thing localization means is a choice. Do the Qt built-in localization facilities meet the applications needs? Would gettext be different? Can KLocale be used instead? The answer to all three is, of course, Yes. Qt localization is quite extensive for most Qt developers which don’t target very uncommon locales. KLocale is a more powerful localization system, and is part of the KDE platform which can be used without many extra dependencies than QtCore and gettext, which it extends.

Of course, KLocale and Qt localization systems are incompatible – They use different conventions in strings for plurals and different forms of catalogs, so a Qt developer has to pick one up front. For developers of libraries like Grantlee, that brings a need for abstraction. Grantlee now features an AbstractLocalizer which can be implemented to support any localization system. I’ve already implemented it for QLocale and for KLocale. That means that Grantlee templates can now be localized easily in both Qt applications and KDE applications.

We have a joke in the Grantlee community there are so many examples distributed in Grantlee for text editing, code generation etc that KDE is almost obsoleted (har-har). To test out the l10n feature I’ve added an address book application:

Contacts with plurals en_US

Contacts with plurals

Contacts with plurals de_DE

There are several important things to note here:

  • I suck at creating good looking html
  • Strings are translated
  • Strings with plural forms are translated
  • Numbers are localized properly. The German version uses comma for decimal separation.
  • Money is localized properly. The German version puts the Euro symbol on the right.
  • Dates are localized properly. The en_US version is wrong, and the German version uses dots for separators.

    The localization supports all of the common localization needs for application development.

  • Using _() to localize strings: {{ _(“Table of contents”) }}
  • Using _() to localize anything: {{ _(some_date_variable) }} where some_date_variable is a QDate outputs 14/3/2010 in en_GB, 3/14/2010 in en_US, and 14.3.2010 in de_DE. Numbers like {{ _(100001) }} are also localized properly.
  • Using i18n for argument substitution: {% i18n “Hello %1, Welcome to %2” username website_name %}
  • Using i18nc for disambiguated localization: {% i18nc “Name of a person” “Name” %}, {% i18nc “Name of a category” “Name” %}
  • Using i18np for plurals: {% i18np “%1 person” “%1 people” numPeople %}
  • Using i18ncp for disambiguated plurals {% i18ncp “The amount of people logged in” “%1 person” “%1 people” numPeople %}
  • Using l10n_money to localize monetary values: {% l10n_money amount “EUR” %} outputs for example, “€ 99.99” in the Irish locale, and “99,99 €” in the German locale.

    Isolated localization: Tricky issue

    Usually if you are creating content, the content is created in the locale the application is running in. For example, I can export address book entries from KAddressBook and birthdays will be formatted as 20/11/2009. If I want to export the address book entries and send them to a German person it should be localized for Germany. To do that I would have to restart the application with the correct locale or switch my system locale. With Grantlee and AbstractLocalizer it is now possible to construct a localizer with the appropriate QLocale or KLocale and the exported document will be correctly localized.

    So if you use Grantlee to export content you can let the user decide what locale to target when exporting.

    Mixed localization: Tricky issue

    When learning a language it can be helpful to see the same terms and phrases in the same place in different languages. By using Grantlee for theming you can now allow users to use multiple locales/languages in the same rendering.

    Tables in multiple locales

    Table with multi-lingual header

    Admittedly, I only added this feature because I wanted to see if it would be possible. I don’t know if anyone would use it.

    Extended localization: Tricky issue

    The whole point of Grantlee is to enable accessors to become mutators – enable users to create and share themes for applications like KAddressBook, KMail etc. Those themes will have to be localized, even if the theme introduces strings which were not already in the original application. Now themers will be able to custom create themes and even add custom fields which can be translated. The translations of course would need to be shipped with the theme.

    In this example, a themer has added a calculation to the theme (in javascript, because we can) for the age/salary ratio.

    Theme with age/salary ratio en_US

    This can then be translated and localized easily:

    Theme with age/salary ratio de_DE

    Localization: Easy

    i18n/l10n has been on the roadmap for Grantlee since day one. I started working on this at Akademy in Tampere, and am only nearly finished now. It took a few attempts to get the design right and learn everything needed about localization in general and computerized localization in particular. Now it’s easy for everyone else. 🙂

    All of this works of course with “pure” Qt and with KLocale and the extensions it provides.

    BTW for more on the elite Germans of Berlin check out Wash Echte.

  • 45 Responses to “Localization: Tricky issue”

    1. LuHe Says:

      The superlative of krass is krasseste 😉

    2. Ivan Says:

      Another interesting thing – in Russia, ground floor is called 1st floor (первий етаж), 1st floor is called 2nd etc.

      • Frank Says:

        In German there is similar. You can count by “Etage” or by “Stock(werk)”. When you count “Etage” you start by 1
        -> 1. Etage, 2. Etage, …

        When you count by “Stock” you start with “Erdgeschoss”.
        -> Erdgeschoss, 1. Stock, 2. Stock, …

        I rather liked your time example. There is another one: When you say it happened in the year, lets say 2010. You say in English: “In 2010 foo did something”. In German you say “2010 machte foo irgendetwas”. Often you can read or hear “In 2010 machte…” even in Germany, although it’s wrong.

        • Alexandra Says:

          Hm. Isn’t 1. Etage the same as 1. Stock? At least in my book it is. And that’s where the real confusion starts: regional differences. I missed various appointments because of the “dreiviertel sieben” misunderstanding.

          Besides, Steve, there is a whole lot of Southern German expressions in your blog. How comes?!

        • Frank Says:

          Alexandra, maybe thats a local difference. At least in the GDR all newer Buildings – the so called “Plattenbauten” – are counted this way. Maybe because of the DSF – German Sovjetian Friendship – but who knows…

          Even the “dreiviertel sieben” thing is very common in GDR and not that common in the rest of Germany. As GDR is gone for 20 years now, you find it all mixed up over Germany, right know. I must admit, that Steve has understood that concept really well. There are Germans who have problems understanding it and I have the feeling that some of them will never understand it.

        • Andreas Says:

          Frank, I come from the Southwest, near Mainz/Kaiserslautern, and we’ve always called it “dreiviertel Sieben”. In some places in that region people even call 18:15 “viertel Sieben”.
          Alexandra, it feels like most people from 20 to 35 years old in Berlin are not born there. “Schwaben”, a term that applies to everybody from Bavaria or Baden-Württemberg, aka the far South, are disliked for their allegedly conservative ways in some circles.

        • steveire Says:

          Alexandra: I guess it’s due to the many different backgrounds of my teachers and friends. Some real Berliners, some from the South, some from the “South” ( == Koln 🙂 ).

          I’ve come across the 18:15 “viertel Sieben” thing too, but forgot to mention it. I also forgot to mention a misunderstood gesture for number three popularized by a Tarantino movie last year… Would have been the right post for it.

        • Frank Says:

          Andreas, ok, I just can talk from my own experience. Maybe not all regions in western Germany are ignorant to that time issue, but a lot of people I met have been.

          Even my sister, that lives near Colone now, has converted to the “Viertel vor” style, because she was tired to explain herself.

          “Viertel Sieben” is indeed very common here…

          Steve, what gesture and what movie?

        • Alex Says:

          I never heard of 1.Etage being the same as Erdgeschoss, but I assume that must be a regional difference. Considering the statement Baden-Würtemberg+Bavaria = Schwaben, this is not correct, only a small part of Bavaria is part of Schwaben

        • mat69 Says:

          It can be even worse than that.

          In Vienna you have the “Erdgeschoß” (first floor), then the “Mezzanin” (second floor) — even if it is a normal etage — and finally the “1. Stock” (third floor!).

        • steveire Says:

          Hehe, mat69 that sounds like endless entertainment.

          Frank I meant Inglorious Basterds: http://boards.straightdope.com/sdmb/showthread.php?t=529221

        • Kevin Kofler Says:

          Actually, many buildings in Vienna don’t have a “Mezzanin”. AFAICT it’s mostly old buildings that have one, new ones are numbered the German way (Erdgeschoß (ground floor), 1. Stock (1st above ground, 2nd overall) etc.).

        • Kevin Kofler Says:

          Another fun thing with timekeeping is that for some people, the next Monday is “der kommende Montag” (literally “the Monday to come”) and “der nächste Montag” (literally “the next Monday”) is the Monday after that. Other people here have never heard about this bizarre distinction, so this can be ground for misunderstandings.

        • steveire Says:

          In my experience ‘this Monday’/’next Monday’ doesn’t work in English either.

          As far as I can tell, if it is less than 3 days before the target, such as Friday-Sunday and you say ‘this Monday’, it is the one 3 days away. ‘next Monday’ is the one 10 days away. and ‘the Monday after next’ is also the one 10 days away.

          If it’s Tuesday or Wednesday though, ‘next Monday’ is probably the one 5 days away, just like ‘this Monday’.

          Better just use numeric dates I guess…

    3. steveire Says:

      Thanks LuHe!

      Ivan. It’s the same in the US I think.

    4. Karellen Says:

      “Why does inflammable mean flammable, for a common example?”

      “Inflammable” is the original correct word for something which can become “inflamed”. While “inflamed” is most commonly used with respect to body parts (“his twisted ankle was inflamed”, “the ant bite became inflamed”), it is also correct to describe things burning as “being inflamed”. Therefore something inflammable is something which can burn.

      However, some found this confusing, understandably thinking the word was the negating “in-” prefix attached to the (non-existent) word “flammable”. In order to reduce confusion, particularly in safety-related situations, where mistaking something which could burn for something which could not and therefore failing to take appropriate naked flame precautions could be deadly, the words “flammable” and “non-flammable” were invented to be unambiguous.


    5. steveire Says:

      Thanks for the explanation Karellen. Interesting stuff. The disconnect between the meaning of words and the same word with a common prefix is also common in German.

      * Zug – a train
      * Umzug – Move (to move house etc)
      * Anzug – A suit
      * Aufzug – an elevator

      Another thing that commonly trips me up.

      • Frank Says:

        It has something in common: “ziehen”

        * A train is pulled – Der Zug wird gezogen.
        * I move to canada – Ich ziehe nach Kanada (um).
        * I put on a suit – Ich ziehe einen Anzug an.
        * even the elevator is pulled from above – like the train

    6. dominik Says:

      Karellen: I am not a linguist, but I think that the problem about the “in-” prefix in English comes from the confusion, that it could either be of latin origin (negation) or germanic origin (like the German “ent-“, like in “inflame = entflammen”).

      • Karellen Says:

        Very probably. I’m not a trained linguist, but most of the ambiguity and confusion with English I’m aware of comes from it stealing words from so many other languages. One other particularly notable one is “homo”, from the Latin “homo” meaning “human” or “man” (e.g. “homo sapiens”), and from the greek “homos” meaning “same” (e.g. “homogenous”)

    7. Paul Adams Says:

      It was interesting to see that the same word is used for “tomorrow” and “morning” in German. We have a similar construct in Scots. If you ever hear a Glaswegian saying they’ll do something “the morn”, it means “at some point the next day”.

      • steveire Says:

        Another one I forgot to put in the article was the “Sonnabend” thing.

        “Sonntag” is Sunday, “Abend” is evening, but “Sonnabend” is Saturday.

        It’s kind of Hallowe’en like, but every week!

        • Frank Says:

          To make it perfect – there is even a “Samstag” for saturday… 😉

        • Andre Says:

          This one is easy: Saturday comes from the old greek, whereas “Sonnabend” is the same as New Years Eve, Halloween, or fortnight: It comes from the Germanic, where days started in the evening. Thus the evening of Saturday was what we would now call the beginning of sunday.

      • randomguy3 Says:

        Well, even in standard British English, “in the morning” means tomorrow.

    8. Alex Says:

      The following is IMO a typo:

      Using _() to localize anything: {{ _(some_date_variable) }} where some_date_variable is a QDate outputs 3/14/2010 in en_GB, 14/3/2010 in en_US, and 3.14.2010 in de_DE. Numbers like {{ _(100001) }} are also localized properly.

      You will never have a Date such as 3.14.2010 in de_DE since the year only has 12 moths

    9. Steve Bryant Says:

      Hey Steve, welcome to DE.

      One thing you appear not to have noticed yet: one thousand million is a billion in the US; the UK seems to have switched to that format some years back too. In Germany (and probably the rest of Europe), one thousand million is a milliard. A billion is a million million (and a thousand billion is a billiard). There’s even a wikipedia page about this (long and short scale). Apparently, we can blame the French!

      As for the ‘viertel sieben’ time thingy, I figure it can be logically extended, so twenty past six would be ‘drittel sieben’. When the Germans look at me confused, I tell them it’s their own fault for having a silly convention in the first place. In the words of Basil Fawlty: you started it!

      I think German is reasonably easy to pick up for anyone that speaks English, due in no small part to the common Germanic roots of both modern languages. Lots of words still have the same or similar meanings in both languages – although you may wish to avoid going into a bar on a hot day and telling people how warm you are… 🙂


      PS. I’m in Stuttgart, where I am reliably informed that Köln is somewhere in the north of Germany!!

      • steveire Says:

        Hey Steve,

        I noticed many years ago that I can’t reliably know what a billion means anywhere I go. Usually I say a “thousand million”. I hadn’t noticed/remembered that Germany had a different meaning for it. Shows you the scale of my paycheck…

    10. Andre Says:

      Someone just has to post this.

      The English Lesson

      We’ll begin with box, and the plural is boxes,
      But the plural of ox should be oxen, not oxes.
      Then one fowl is goose, but two are called geese,
      Yet the plural of moose should never be meese.
      You may find a lone mouse or a whole lot of mice,
      But the plural of house is houses, not hice.
      If the plural of man is always called men,
      Why shouldn’t the plural of pan be pen?
      The cow in the plural may be cows or kine,
      But the plural of vow is vows, not vine.
      And I speak of a foot, and you show me your feet,
      But I give a boot… would a pair be beet?
      If one is a tooth, and a whole set is teeth,
      Why shouldn’t the plural of booth be beeth?
      If the singular is this, and the plural is these,
      Why shouldn’t the plural of kiss be kese?
      Then one may be that, and three be those,
      Yet the plural of hat would never be hose.
      We speak of a brother, and also of brethren,
      But though we say mother, we never say methren.
      The masculine pronouns are he, his and him,
      But imagine the feminine she, shis, and shim.
      So our English, I think you will agree,
      Is the trickiest language you ever did see.

      I take it you already know
      of tough, and bough and cough and dough?
      Others may stumble, but not you
      on hiccough, through, slough and though.
      Well done! And now you wish, perhaps
      To learn of less familiar traps?
      Beware of heard, a dreadful word
      That looks like beard and sounds like bird.
      And dead; it’s said like bed, not bead!
      For goodness sake, don’t call it deed!
      Watch out for meat and great and threat,
      (They rhyme with suite and straight and debt)
      A moth is not a moth in mother,
      Nor both in bother, broth in brother.
      And here is not a match for there,
      Nor dear and fear for bear and pear,
      And then there’s dose and rose and lose –
      Just look them up – and goose and choose,
      And cork and work and card and ward
      And font and front and word and sword.
      And do and go, then thwart and cart.
      Come, come, I’ve hardly made a start.
      A dreadful language: Why, man alive,
      I’d learned to talk when I was five.
      And yet to write it, the more I tried,
      I hadn’t learned it at fifty-five.

    11. Andre Says:

      And another masterpiece. I hope this is not considered spam. 🙂

      The Chaos.
      by Gerard Nolst Trenité

      Dearest creature in creation
      Studying English pronunciation,
      I will teach you in my verse
      Sounds like corpse, corps, horse and worse.
      I will keep you, Susy, busy,
      Make your head with heat grow dizzy;
      Tear in eye, your dress you’ll tear;
      Queer, fair seer, hear my prayer.
      Pray, console your loving poet,
      Make my coat look new, dear, sew it! 10
      Just compare heart, hear and heard,
      Dies and diet, lord and word.
      Sword and sward, retain and Britain
      (Mind the latter how it’s written).
      Made has not the sound of bade,
      Say – said, pay – paid, laid but plaid.
      Now I surely will not plague you
      With such words as vague and ague,
      But be careful how you speak,
      Say: gush, bush, steak, streak, break, bleak, 20
      Previous, precious, fuchsia, via
      Recipe, pipe, studding-sail, choir;
      Woven, oven, how and low,
      Script, receipt, shoe, poem, toe.
      Say, expecting fraud and trickery:
      Daughter, laughter and Terpsichore,
      Branch, ranch, measles, topsails, aisles,
      Missiles, similes, reviles.
      Wholly, holly, signal, signing,
      Same, examining, but mining, 30
      Scholar, vicar, and cigar,
      Solar, mica, war and far.
      From “desire”: desirable – admirable from “admire”,
      Lumber, plumber, bier, but brier,
      Topsham, brougham, renown, but known,
      Knowledge, done, lone, gone, none, tone,
      One, anemone, Balmoral,
      Kitchen, lichen, laundry, laurel.
      Gertrude, German, wind and wind,
      Beau, kind, kindred, queue, mankind, 40
      Tortoise, turquoise, chamois-leather,
      Reading, Reading, heathen, heather.
      This phonetic labyrinth
      Gives moss, gross, brook, brooch, ninth, plinth.
      Have you ever yet endeavoured
      To pronounce revered and severed,
      Demon, lemon, ghoul, foul, soul,
      Peter, petrol and patrol?
      Billet does not end like ballet;
      Bouquet, wallet, mallet, chalet. 50
      Blood and flood are not like food,
      Nor is mould like should and would.
      Banquet is not nearly parquet,
      Which exactly rhymes with khaki.
      Discount, viscount, load and broad,
      Toward, to forward, to reward,
      Ricocheted and crocheting, croquet?
      Right! Your pronunciation’s OK.
      Rounded, wounded, grieve and sieve,
      Friend and fiend, alive and live. 60
      Is your R correct in higher?
      Keats asserts it rhymes with Thalia.
      Hugh, but hug, and hood, but hoot,
      Buoyant, minute, but minute.
      Say abscission with precision,
      Now: position and transition;
      Would it tally with my rhyme
      If I mentioned paradigm?
      Twopence, threepence, tease are easy,
      But cease, crease, grease and greasy? 70
      Cornice, nice, valise, revise,
      Rabies, but lullabies.
      Of such puzzling words as nauseous,
      Rhyming well with cautious, tortious,
      You’ll envelop lists, I hope,
      In a linen envelope.
      Would you like some more? You’ll have it!
      Affidavit, David, davit.
      To abjure, to perjure. Sheik
      Does not sound like Czech but ache. 80
      Liberty, library, heave and heaven,
      Rachel, loch, moustache, eleven.
      We say hallowed, but allowed,
      People, leopard, towed but vowed.
      Mark the difference, moreover,
      Between mover, plover, Dover.
      Leeches, breeches, wise, precise,
      Chalice, but police and lice,
      Camel, constable, unstable,
      Principle, disciple, label. 90
      Petal, penal, and canal,
      Wait, surmise, plait, promise, pal,
      Suit, suite, ruin. Circuit, conduit
      Rhyme with “shirk it” and “beyond it”,
      But it is not hard to tell
      Why it’s pall, mall, but Pall Mall.
      Muscle, muscular, gaol, iron,
      Timber, climber, bullion, lion,
      Worm and storm, chaise, chaos, chair,
      Senator, spectator, mayor, 100
      Ivy, privy, famous; clamour
      Has the A of drachm and hammer.
      Pussy, hussy and possess,
      Desert, but desert, address.
      Golf, wolf, countenance, lieutenants
      Hoist in lieu of flags left pennants.
      Courier, courtier, tomb, bomb, comb,
      Cow, but Cowper, some and home.
      “Solder, soldier! Blood is thicker”,
      Quoth he, “than liqueur or liquor”, 110
      Making, it is sad but true,
      In bravado, much ado.
      Stranger does not rhyme with anger,
      Neither does devour with clangour.
      Pilot, pivot, gaunt, but aunt,
      Font, front, wont, want, grand and grant.
      Arsenic, specific, scenic,
      Relic, rhetoric, hygienic.
      Gooseberry, goose, and close, but close,
      Paradise, rise, rose, and dose. 120
      Say inveigh, neigh, but inveigle,
      Make the latter rhyme with eagle.
      Mind! Meandering but mean,
      Valentine and magazine.
      And I bet you, dear, a penny,
      You say mani-(fold) like many,
      Which is wrong. Say rapier, pier,
      Tier (one who ties), but tier.
      Arch, archangel; pray, does erring
      Rhyme with herring or with stirring? 130
      Prison, bison, treasure trove,
      Treason, hover, cover, cove,
      Perseverance, severance. Ribald
      Rhymes (but piebald doesn’t) with nibbled.
      Phaeton, paean, gnat, ghat, gnaw,
      Lien, psychic, shone, bone, pshaw.
      Don’t be down, my own, but rough it,
      And distinguish buffet, buffet;
      Brood, stood, roof, rook, school, wool, boon,
      Worcester, Boleyn, to impugn. 140
      Say in sounds correct and sterling
      Hearse, hear, hearken, year and yearling.
      Evil, devil, mezzotint,
      Mind the z! (A gentle hint.)
      Now you need not pay attention
      To such sounds as I don’t mention,
      Sounds like pores, pause, pours and paws,
      Rhyming with the pronoun yours;
      Nor are proper names included,
      Though I often heard, as you did, 150
      Funny rhymes to unicorn,
      Yes, you know them, Vaughan and Strachan.
      No, my maiden, coy and comely,
      I don’t want to speak of Cholmondeley.
      No. Yet Froude compared with proud
      Is no better than McLeod.
      But mind trivial and vial,
      Tripod, menial, denial,
      Troll and trolley, realm and ream,
      Schedule, mischief, schism, and scheme. 160
      Argil, gill, Argyll, gill. Surely
      May be made to rhyme with Raleigh,
      But you’re not supposed to say
      Piquet rhymes with sobriquet.
      Had this invalid invalid
      Worthless documents? How pallid,
      How uncouth he, couchant, looked,
      When for Portsmouth I had booked!
      Zeus, Thebes, Thales, Aphrodite,
      Paramour, enamoured, flighty, 170
      Episodes, antipodes,
      Acquiesce, and obsequies.
      Please don’t monkey with the geyser,
      Don’t peel ‘taters with my razor,
      Rather say in accents pure:
      Nature, stature and mature.
      Pious, impious, limb, climb, glumly,
      Worsted, worsted, crumbly, dumbly,
      Conquer, conquest, vase, phase, fan,
      Wan, sedan and artisan. 180
      The TH will surely trouble you
      More than R, CH or W.
      Say then these phonetic gems:
      Thomas, thyme, Theresa, Thames.
      Thompson, Chatham, Waltham, Streatham,
      There are more but I forget ’em –
      Wait! I’ve got it: Anthony,
      Lighten your anxiety.
      The archaic word albeit
      Does not rhyme with eight – you see it; 190
      With and forthwith, one has voice,
      One has not, you make your choice.
      Shoes, goes, does [1]. Now first say: finger;
      Then say: singer, ginger, linger.
      Real, zeal, mauve, gauze and gauge,
      Marriage, foliage, mirage, age,
      Hero, heron, query, very,
      Parry, tarry, fury, bury,
      Dost, lost, post, and doth, cloth, loth,
      Job, Job, blossom, bosom, oath. 200
      Faugh, oppugnant, keen oppugners,
      Bowing, bowing, banjo-tuners
      Holm you know, but noes, canoes,
      Puisne, truism, use, to use?
      Though the difference seems little,
      We say actual, but victual,
      Seat, sweat, chaste, caste, Leigh, eight, height,
      Put, nut, granite, and unite
      Reefer does not rhyme with deafer,
      Feoffer does, and zephyr, heifer. 210
      Dull, bull, Geoffrey, George, ate, late,
      Hint, pint, senate, but sedate.
      Gaelic, Arabic, pacific,
      Science, conscience, scientific;
      Tour, but our, dour, succour, four,
      Gas, alas, and Arkansas.
      Say manoeuvre, yacht and vomit,
      Next omit, which differs from it
      Bona fide, alibi
      Gyrate, dowry and awry. 220
      Sea, idea, guinea, area,
      Psalm, Maria, but malaria.
      Youth, south, southern, cleanse and clean,
      Doctrine, turpentine, marine.
      Compare alien with Italian,
      Dandelion with battalion,
      Rally with ally; yea, ye,
      Eye, I, ay, aye, whey, key, quay!
      Say aver, but ever, fever,
      Neither, leisure, skein, receiver. 230
      Never guess – it is not safe,
      We say calves, valves, half, but Ralf.
      Starry, granary, canary,
      Crevice, but device, and eyrie,
      Face, but preface, then grimace,
      Phlegm, phlegmatic, ass, glass, bass.
      Bass, large, target, gin, give, verging,
      Ought, oust, joust, and scour, but scourging;
      Ear, but earn; and ere and tear
      Do not rhyme with here but heir. 240
      Mind the O of off and often
      Which may be pronounced as orphan,
      With the sound of saw and sauce;
      Also soft, lost, cloth and cross.
      Pudding, puddle, putting. Putting?
      Yes: at golf it rhymes with shutting.
      Respite, spite, consent, resent.
      Liable, but Parliament.
      Seven is right, but so is even,
      Hyphen, roughen, nephew, Stephen, 250
      Monkey, donkey, clerk and jerk,
      Asp, grasp, wasp, demesne, cork, work.
      A of valour, vapid, vapour,
      S of news (compare newspaper),
      G of gibbet, gibbon, gist,
      I of antichrist and grist,
      Differ like diverse and divers,
      Rivers, strivers, shivers, fivers.
      Once, but nonce, toll, doll, but roll,
      Polish, Polish, poll and poll. 260
      Pronunciation – think of Psyche! –
      Is a paling, stout and spiky.
      Won’t it make you lose your wits
      Writing groats and saying ‘grits’?
      It’s a dark abyss or tunnel
      Strewn with stones like rowlock, gunwale,
      Islington, and Isle of Wight,
      Housewife, verdict and indict.
      Don’t you think so, reader, rather,
      Saying lather, bather, father? 270
      Finally, which rhymes with enough,
      Though, through, bough, cough, hough, sough, tough??
      Hiccough has the sound of sup…
      My advice is: GIVE IT UP!

    12. Michael Says:

      There’s something even better than “Der Hammer”: It’s “Der Oberhammer”!

      Gut > Besser > Am Besten > Der Hammer > Der Oberhammer

    13. g Says:

      In Dutch (in Belgium) we also have the “halb acht” construction for 7h30: we say “half acht” and we also use “vijf voor half acht” for 7h25. But the “drei viertel acht” construction does not exist in Dutch. We also use “chef” for boss. We have the same usage of the word “morgen”. We have the same issues with “I’m cold” and “I’m good”. This is not surprising since Dutch is very close to German. Yet the decimal usage in German is the same throughout Europe, so English is really the odd one here, same for billion and the date notation. Actually I find the European notation for dates more logical: in 4/12/2010 you go from the smaller unit (day) to larger (month) and largest (year).

    14. vespas Says:

      for the decimal and thousands symbols, i think it is an anglo-saxon vs. continental europe thing, rather than specifically german. the same goes for the position of the currency symbol. as for the million/billion thing, blame the french :p, it’s a huge mess: http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Long_and_short_scales
      in practice, in dealing with large numbers, I use powers of ten. (how’s that for geek cred when shopping?) 🙂

    15. thomas Says:

      If you want to get to the bottom of the matter:


      • Andre Says:

        We should add, though, that most of his points hold for most European languages except English. 🙂

        • steveire Says:

          True dat.

          Colleagues have complained that the English do everything wrong compared to the rest of Europe:

          They use the wrong currency
          They drive on the wrong side of the road
          They use the wrong power connections
          They have the wrong billions
          They’re in the wrong timezone.

    16. Frank Says:

      For the dates AFAIK there is an ISO standard yyyy-mm-dd, but I see that form in the RL very seldom. Even the chinese use it this way yyyy年mm月dd日.

    17. mat69 Says:

      Btw. really a great entry! Liked reading it a lot.

      This one is supposed to be read with strong italian accent:

      One day ima gonna Malta to bigga hotel.
      Ina morning I go down to eat breakfast.

      I tella waitress I wanna two pissis toast.
      She brings me only one piss.
      I tella her I want two piss.
      She say go to the toilet.
      I say, you no understand, I wanna piss onna my plate.
      She say, you better no piss onna plate, you sonna ma bitch.
      I don’t even know the lady and she call me sonna ma bitch.

      Later I go to eat at the bigga restaurant.
      The waitress brings me a spoon and knife but no fock.
      I tella her I wanna fock.
      She tell me everyone wanna fock.
      I tell her you no understand.
      I wanna fock on the table.
      She say, you better not fock on the table, you sonna ma bitch.
      So I go back to my room inna hotel and there is no shits onna my bed.
      Call the manager and tella him I wanna shit.
      He tell me to go to toilet.
      I say you no understand. I wanna shit on my bed.
      He say you better not shit onna bed, you sonna ma bitch.

      I go to the checkout and the man at the desk say: “Peace on you”.
      I say piss on you too, you sonna ma bitch, I gonna back to Italy…

    18. frank Says:

      ”It’s not that English doesn’t have it’s fair share of peculiarities.“

      Like a differentiation between »its« and »it’s«. 😉

    19. Kevin Kofler Says:

      About your example, shouldn’t it say “Lohn-Alter-Quotient” rather than “Lohn-Alt Quotient”?

      And I think “émail” in French is also incorrect, it means “enamel”, I’ve never seen that word (with the accent) used for e-mail. “E-mail” is spelled “e-mail” or “email” when it’s used in French, but in more correct French, you’d call it “courriel” (which is a short form of “courrier électronique” and which was popularized by the Québec authorities and is now also endorsed by the Académie Française).

      • steveire Says:

        You’re right. Others have pointed these things out to me too.

        Too late to change them now in the blog, but I’ll fix them in the example application at some stage.

    20. Grantlee version 0.1.8 (Codename: Der Hammer) now available « Steveire's Blog Says:

      […] Steveire's Blog Cute model enthusiast « Localization: Tricky issue […]

    21. Martin Says:

      As I did not find any workable documentation on how to create a grantlee template for kaddressbook, I’ll ask here:
      how can I make a grantlee theme to print out my addresses as 70x32mm labels with formatted name and address (street, plz and town – I’m in Austria)… Please help!

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