Speaking of LJ language settings, I don't think I've had my account set to "English" since the day I discovered I had a choice. After all, it seems a pretty easy way to get some added reinforcement in whatever language you're learning. I tend to default to German, but I've also had it set on Welsh, Dutch, Polish, Irish, and possibly some others. (No prizes for guessing what it's set on now.)
So when I joined Facebook six months ago, I began checking out the language options even before signing up. At first I chose "Gaeilge", but the questions on the homepage smacked so heavily of Béarlachas
that I grew distrustful, and ultimately went with German instead. (As a consequence, I soon found that I had no common vocabulary when it came to discussing the site's functionality with others. That was fun when trying to explain to my older brother how to use Facebook's native postal system instead of posting stuff on everyone's Pinnwände
...er, Walls.) That setting stayed until a couple months back when, tickled to discover that there was an option specifically for Canadian French, I chose that option. Even more than the terms "Babillard" and "Clavardage", I was amused by the use of "adepte" where I suspect the French French setting has "fan". It made my Ami(e)s
sound like a bunch of fickle cultists.
Now that I'm all about the Irish once more, I considered giving that setting another try. There was a discussion of Facebook on the Daltaí forum some months back during which it was explained how translations of the site come about. I never realised they are done according to a consensus model rather than being the work of a single dedicated translator. Terms are suggested and then commented upon before being approved for inclusion, and some of the people involved I recognised as quite knowledgeable speakers indeed.
So I changed my setting...for like all of five minutes. Looking over my News Feed, I spotted this:
Trí uair ó shin.
Everything I read tells me that the correct Irish for "three hours ago" is "trí h
ó shin". Now I realise what a bastard numbers can be in Irish; trí
are the only words in the language that both lenite consonants and
to vowels. And uair
is part of a small class of measure words which appear in the nominative plural after higher numbers instead of the genitive singular.
But the point remains that this is the kind of elementary error that a native speaker would never make. If something so simple is bolloxed, then what else in that localisation can I not trust? I'm going to be generous here and assume that it's Facebook and the anglocentric widget it uses to generate these timestamps that is at fault here, not the translators themselves. But the whole point of selecting a target language is reinforcement. If every day I see "Trí uair ó shin" lurking in the lower reaches of my News Feed, then sooner or later it will cease to leap out at me as incorrect, and the next thing I know I'm reproducing the error.
So back to French it is, mes adeptes!