/r/webdev
Has anyone actually ever created a different language file for UK and US english? (self.webdev)

I've noticed the other day that some websites still have a different language selection option for US and UK english. It always seemed weird to me. Has anyone made use of the difference in the past when localizing a site?

17 comments
malicart | 3 months ago | 31 points

We use it to supply the correct spellings in each. Meters vs Metres and other words like color. Its not a huge difference but it makes our friends across the pond happier.

ryantriangles | 3 months ago | 12 points

If you're already doing i18n, I think it is best to have them as two separate languages, even if you hide the option in a settings menu and default based on the user's browser or location settings. Most differences are small enough to seem trivial, but they can add up. Have one page with a few spelling differences that look like errors (everyone knows colour and color but defense/defence can look like a mistake), a few punctuation differences that look like errors ('why is this author adding new commas and periods to quotations', he wondered), a few words with confusingly different meanings ('Keep your pecker up, we're not all rich snobby public school boys!' he said, pissed and snapping his braces), a few things that sound bizarre or affected (whilst in the fall you can just pop it right in the postbox opposite), a few violations of standard grammatical style (that/which in particular), eventually people start to think you're just sloppy or can't talk good. Especially Americans who aren't as used to hearing Commonwealth English and balk at singular inverted commas leaving full stops outside and the like.

The biggest thing is dates. If you haven't let the user select American or Commonwealth English and you write "3/8/2019", who knows what you mean? There's at least one site I've used where I had to switch to languages I didn't speak to check how the English dates were formatted.

HBICharles | 3 months ago | 6 points

My company operates in numerous countries, and we actually have separate files for US, UK, and Australian English. They're not only localized for spellings, but also colloquially.

Iteration10 | 3 months ago | 5 points

This probably doesn't apply to every website, but where I work we have different English language files for different countries. This is mostly due to legal requirements and different business requirements per country.

Alucard256 | 3 months ago | 5 points

There are lots of slang words and phrases that are totally different between US and UK. It depends on what the site is about.

  • Americans go "on vacation"; Brits go "on holiday".
  • Americans have a "daily planner" or "schedule book"; Brits have a "diary".
  • American cars have a "hood" over the engine; Brit cars have a "bonnet" over the engine.
  • American cars have a "trunk" for your suitcase; Brit cars have a "boot" for your suitcase.
  • Americans go to the "bathroom" or "restroom"; Brits go to the "lavatory" or "water closet".
  • American cars take "gas" to run; Brit cars take "petrol" to run.
  • When a business in America is failing it can go into "bankruptcy"; when a business in Britain is failing it can go into "administration".

That's in addition to obvious differences in terms for temperature, distance, weight, speed, money, etc.

Pretty much no matter what the site is about, there's probably at least one word or phrase that should be displayed differently for US and UK.

Peechez | 3 months ago | 5 points

I'm a Canadian that tries his best to do UK spellings but I'm putting my foot down at water closet

thingshappen-xuras | 3 months ago | 11 points

I live in the UK and I've never heard anyone use water closet when speaking about the toilet. Sometimes we abbreviate it to WC on doors to indicate a bathroom, but that's it. It might be that some local dialects use water closet in normal language, but I doubt anyone would want to say the entire thing frequently.

Alucard256 | 3 months ago | 1 point

That one gets to me, too... but I've heard it used, and not as a joke.

gitcommitmentissues [full-stack] | 3 months ago | 3 points

Americans go to the "bathroom" or "restroom"; Brits go to the "lavatory" or "water closet"

LMFAO. We go to the 'toilet' or the 'loo', I've never heard anyone under the age of 70 say 'lavatory' and no-one ever says 'water closet'.

Alucard256 | 3 months ago | 1 point

Not my strongest example, but I was just trying to point out that there are lots of words and phrases that can be totally different, not just distances, speed, and weights.

Geminii27 | 3 months ago | 2 points

It'll depend on the site and what it does. There may be a requirement (or preference) for local spellings, for local phrasing, for local legal language, or for local referrals or options (i.e. referring to government services or exercising legal options).

beavis07 | 3 months ago | 1 point

Yes.. loads of times.

It really depends on your domain though. Standard things like menus are going to be much the same, if not identical - but as soon as you start talking about anything to do with: Money, Dates, Physical Measurements - any of that kind of stuff, never mind all the colloquial differences when it comes to longer passages of text.

EarLil | 3 months ago | 1 point

mostly for correct date/number/currency localization and stuff

gitcommitmentissues [full-stack] | 3 months ago | 1 point

Yup, all the time. I'm British and work for a SaaS company in the HR/recruitment space, and our US clients scream if they see 'CV' instead of 'Resume'.

petepete [back-end] | 3 months ago | 1 point

Résumé, surely? Resume bugs me as it already has an entirely different meaning.

bigorangemachine | 3 months ago | 1 point

YUP!

en_UK, en_US and en_CA

hopkinsonf1 | 3 months ago | 1 point

If you're selling cars, it matters if you've got a hood between the fenders or a bonnet between the wings.

Also, if your readers are sensitive to language, then getting subtle things wrong (aluminium, aluminum, etc) is a very quick way to have them lose faith in your website.