[Software @-] Language observatoire

Tuesday, April 25, 2006

Wristwatch mobiles and the first smartphone

The world's first smartphone ran a kind of DOS (sic!) and now celebrates its twelfth anniversary.
The fact that it had a backlit screen had even singled it out among PDAs and palmtops of that time.



The wristphone is a commendable idea at least theoretically, and its last (?!) noted implementation is now three years old. One drawback of these phones might be potential unsafety of the battery - some rechargeable batteries can explode; does not happen very often though.

Who could specially like to wear a wristwatch phone? I think:
(1) people who often have busy hands (industrial/manual workers, pilots, drivers);
(2) people who tend to lose things (forgetfulness);
(3) people who, on a particular occasion - perhaps for fashion or etiquette reasons, do not have a pocket or purse to put a regular phone in but still would need to take a phone with them.


You can find pictures of IBM Simon, 1994 (quite scarce), and of wristwatch phones (somewhat less scarce) on the web.

Thursday, April 20, 2006

Words that are perceived as funny or have a skewed meaning in Latvian

"Baltazars" (Balthasar). While in the Babylonian origin its meaning was "Baal protect the king", in Latvian "balts" means 'white' and "azars" in the East Latvian dialect means 'lake'. Hence, Baltazars - white lake.

"Koks" can mean (1) if pronounced [kokks]) 'coccus' and (2) if pronounced [kuoks]), 'tree'.

"Bāriņš" can mean a 'little bar', a 'little orphan', maybe also a little bar (physical measurement unit of pressure of gas or liquid). "Bars" is a 'bunch of animals', also 'bunch of people'.

"Bum!" and "bums!" means 'boom!' or 'bang', and doesn't have the English meanings of 'a bum' or 'to bum'.

"Maks" is normally a 'wallet', 'purse', 'porte-monnaie', but it is also a colloquial word for 'Mac computer'.

"Stīvs" means 'stiff', 'rigid' (including in expressions like 'rigid attitude'), but it is also the proper Latvian rendering of the first name Steve.

"Ko blenz?" means 'why are you staring?'; it coincides with a non-Latvian trademark "Koblenz".

"Vista" which is found in some English and Spanish trademark names, is the Latvian word for chicken or hen.

"Laiks" is pronounced quite the same as the English "likes", however its meanings are 'time' and 'weather'.

Monday, April 17, 2006

Remarks about the Lithuanian localization of Opera

One of the first annoyances that begs complaining about is the inability to use Alt+d to go directly to the address bar and to select its entire contents (in order to type a new URL); instead, Alt-d brings up the Adresynas menu (bookmarks). It might be recommended to change the hotkey for Adresynas menu from d toward s, since s can serve as a mnemonic character for the Lithuanian word "saitas" - link, and bookmarks does contain links, don't they? Alt-d is needed by those computer people who prefer fast keyboarding to the mousey mousing... (In Firefox, there is a similar silliness: only Alt-d works, but Alt-D [capslock on] doesn't.)

The translation of the names of the various encodings might be more successful in the Lithuanian Opera than in the Latvian Firefox. The latter has, for example, "Vidus Austrumnieku" (sic! overcapitalisation), a genitive phrase, which translates back into English as "of Easterners of the Middle"; "Easterners of the Middle" is a riddle to me. Middle of what?
Besides, the "Middle East" should normally be called Near East (LT: Artimieji Rytai, LV: Tuvie Austrumi), however some geopolitists in a not very distant past have "re-christened" the region by mixing "Mediterranean Sea" (Sea of the Mid-Earth) with "East".
See http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Middle_East#Changes_in_meaning_over_time.

For "Paste", the translator's choice is "Įdėti", which diverges from Microsoft's own "Įklijuoti". The shortcut key is Ctrl-V and context menu key is d.
"Iškirpti" and "Kopijuoti" coincide with the with the MS version.

"Visas ekranas", same as the Latvian "Pilnekrāns" (F11, 'full screen') both seem to lack appropriate noun declensions. Ought to be translated as something like 'in full screen' or 'over full screen'. There's no particular need to imitate telegraphic English in a flexive/synthetic language (e.g., in the Baltic ones).