Sort order for listing languages in setup / settings

3 Jun 2009 - 1:51pm
2 years ago
10 replies
907 reads
Michael Jones
2006

Two projects in a row where I need a list of languages available on
the device, either for setup or settings. Possible options:

Alphabetically, by native language name.
But where do non-phoenician alphabet languages go in that list? Sub
in their English language (so Chinese is written in Chinese, but
placed in the list as if it was "Chinese")?

By likelihood of use. Seems somewhat arbitrary, and the least
apparent to the user. But at least it makes it easiest for the
dominant English setting users.

By region, so all the North American languages, then the European,
then Asian, etc.

I've looked at a lot of devices, and it doesn't seem like there's
any real rhyme or reason.

Suggestions? Know an existing rule?

Comments

4 Jun 2009 - 12:25am
Omkar Shende
2005

Hi Michael,
My suggestions are as follows -

1. Show languages name in English with the representation in the respective script in brackets e.g. Chinese (). This can be the default option.

I found similar execution on Windows Vista/Regional and Language Options.

2. The listing can change as per use e.g. most used languages shown by default with a link to other languages.

3. If you are able to get the location of the user in anyway then show the respective language as the default language with option to view other languages.

Hope this helps.

3 Jun 2009 - 3:01pm
Margoleath Berman
2009

Is the audience of this site predominantly English-speaking, or is it
truly global in nature? I would suggest putting the primary language
at the top. Can the language at the top of the list be influenced by
the IP address?

Check out http://www.wikipedia.org/. I like the way they deal with
the language-select issue.

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4 Jun 2009 - 2:20am
Yohan Creemers
2008

There is no perfect solution I'm afraid. Using the native language
name seems most logical, but then ordering alphabetically is not
possible. http://www.wikipedia.org/ uses the native language name and
orders by sound.

For choosing a default language, you could use the language
preference of the user.

With each request the browser includes the language preference of the
user. It's stored in the variable HTTP_ACCEPT_LANGUAGE and will look
like something as "en-ca,en;q=0.8,fr-ca;q=0.5,fr;q=0.3".

The http_accept_language variable contains a comma separated list of
possible languages/locales, each (optional) with a quotient
indicating the order of importance.

To check your own language setting visit:
http://www.ylab.nl/lab/lang.php

- Yohan

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19 Nov 2011 - 4:55pm
Josh Coe
2009

[redacted]

3 Jun 2009 - 2:58pm
zheng dai
2009

Hi,
It is interesting to considerate this question again and again.
Because each language has the pronunciation in English, it is better
to follow one language to make the list. As Microsoft or Google, they
use English alphabet to list whole languages, but they change the text
into original languages. So, sometimes it is hard to find which
English words they are using. Such as, Chinese could be Simple
Chinese,or Zhong Wen. I saw somewhere Google made the list by English
alphabet first, and write the original form in brackets. so people
could know the way of listing, and find out what they want...

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4 Jun 2009 - 7:44am
Mark Hurd
2008

Apple takes an interesting approach:
http://www.apple.com/choose-your-country/

Overall, the languages are broken up by region. Some are listed in
English, some with native characters, and some with both. However,
the common element for each is the icon of the country's flag.

As an English speaker, I find this approach usable, but possibly only
because I can read the regional headings and narrow down the
selection.

I can see how a non-English speaker would have a difficult time
searching for their country's flag when there's at least 50 of them
on that page. Too many colors, stripes, stars, other similarities
between each.

Mark

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4 Jun 2009 - 7:58am
pyces
2007

I agree. The shiny white circle at the top of the button-shaped flags
makes the flag colors hard to distinguish or even to tell what color
they should be and it is also hard on the eyes. You lose all the detail
in the periphery of the flag that makes it immediately recognizable to
natives. Also, people aren't used to looking up at a circular flag on
the flagpoles in their respective countries.

Great example.

Courtney

-----Original Message-----
From: discuss-bounces at lists.interactiondesigners.com
[mailto:discuss-bounces at lists.interactiondesigners.com] On Behalf Of
Mark Hurd
Sent: Thursday, June 04, 2009 1:44 AM
To: discuss at ixda.org
Subject: Re: [IxDA Discuss] Sort order for listing languages in setup /
settings

Apple takes an interesting approach:
http://www.apple.com/choose-your-country/

Overall, the languages are broken up by region. Some are listed in
English, some with native characters, and some with both. However,
the common element for each is the icon of the country's flag.

As an English speaker, I find this approach usable, but possibly only
because I can read the regional headings and narrow down the
selection.

I can see how a non-English speaker would have a difficult time
searching for their country's flag when there's at least 50 of them
on that page. Too many colors, stripes, stars, other similarities
between each.

Mark

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4 Jun 2009 - 3:18pm
gfrances@iconta...
2008

"Apple takes an interesting approach..."

@Mark,

I really wanted to like that design. I mean, I *really* wanted to.

But... I can't ignore the size of the images or the highlight on the images (the former exacerbating the negative impact of the latter).

I am outraged that the (vastly inferior) New Zealand flag appears almost identical to the Australian flag.

15 Jun 2009 - 2:41pm
Yohan Creemers
2008

Mark wrote:

> Apple takes an interesting approach
(www.apple.com/choose-your-country). Overall, the languages are
broken up by region.

The page Mark is referring to, asks the user to choose a country NOT
a language. That is a major difference! Language and Country are not
interchangeable.

Examples: Belgium has three official languages (Dutch, French and
German). On the other hand, German is not only spoken in Germany, but
also in Austria, Switzerland and Belgium.

- Yohan

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17 Jun 2009 - 4:37pm
Michael Jones
2006

Want to thank everyone for their suggestions. Here's where I landed:

English first. That's the majority of the userbase.
All other languages, sorted by their English name, but displayed in
their native language.

I really wanted to go with the region break-up, but it doesn't
create exclusive groups: French is North American and European,
English could be in every region. And we're not filtering any
content by country-- French is French. So either list languages again
in every region that they appear (as Apple does), or pick the primary
region, which seems very debatable.

I should have mentioned that these are device settings, so stuff like
IP address filtering and getting clever with browsers doesn't apply.
I'm also somewhat limited in space, otherwise the suggestion to put
the english name of the language in parenthesis next to any
non-Phoenician based languages is a good one.

The flags are nice, but better at representing countries than
languages. I suspect Apple included those flags more to spiff up a
dull list than to resolve any usability issue (hence the glossiness).

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