Explore Apps in language without knowing the language

I am native English, but can grasp enough German to at least find the ausgang. bitte!
I want to explore what our app does when I change between a few supported languages, on Windows, Mac and “linux”, are there any get out of jail free cards or tips/hotkeys/pointers that will help me verify that basic things switch over when I start my app after changing my locale. Ways to safely change locale? There must be so many newbie mistakes to make or not. I have gotten some hints from a thread a year ago here Website Localisation Testing, Where Did You Start? . But am keen not to necro that thread, because my context is more about exploring and not actually bugs, and is definitely not about text layout and CSS/web apps yet. Not going as far as buying different keyboards, but valuable guidance here welcome too. Asian languages are not currently on the cards, but please do weight in if you have experience in that department and things like right-to-left etc.

It’s a separate thing entirely to test localization, and my scope is just smoke-testing depth, like opening a few dialogues and relying on memory and learning just enough of a language, to check that forms have roughly the correct kind of data in them only.

Our company sells world-wide but we have a major market segment in France and we produce our product in French. I personally have French as a second language but my German is better; once I’ve “got my German head on” I’m reasonably conversationally fluent (for most purposes; just don’t try to engage me in a deep and earnest conversation in German on my reaction to Emmanuel Kant’s Critique of Pure Reason:smiley:)

I don’t have to interact with our French product much as all the functional testing is on the English version and the translation is done by native French speakers as a final step. But on the few occasions I’ve looked at it, I’ve been perfectly able to manage because I know the product fairly well in the first place. I think that product knowledge is the key here.

I normally have little difficulty reading German-language websites, though in reading printed material I find that the more abstract the text, the more I struggle. But with a reasonable amount of product/site knowledge, I can usually manage at least the basic operations in languages I don’t know, such as Czech, Polish or Russian (which I can read slightly and have a vocabulary of some 300 words). However, trying less mainstream languages, such as Finnish or Hungarian, or languages that don’t use western orthography (Arabic, Urdu, Chinese or Japanese), is a bit beyond me.

A little tip for improving your familiarity with languages: go back to watching DVDs! The copyright warning at the end of a DVD presentation is usually the same text in a range of different languages. (My other half calls this her ‘Rosetta Stone’ that future archaeologists will rave over for deciphering our long-dead tongues.) It won’t teach you the language, but it’ll at least help you get used to the way each language looks and feels, especially when it comes to, say, the differences between Norwegian, Swedish and Danish, to name but three.

1 Like

Watching French movies was not what I had in mind; but Robert, you have given me a longer term advice to take up. Very good principles for how to learn to be better at internationalization testing.

My day-1 was to setup Windows German, and login, install and run, and I found what looked like a bug, because the word “Detail” used in context of a “list” looked English to me. Turns out the bug got rejected, since it’s the same word in context. Detail is a German word, and means the same thing! So I’ll be double checking in future any language bugs. The downside is Windows is back in English, but keeps greeting me “Willkommen” .

The tips I was most looking for was things like how to get back into English if you get stuck in German/Hungarian/Spanish or French UI, right now the best tip I can give, is use the language hotbar, logout of Windows, and then login again and check where you were. Are there… Any tools to help you switch faster, or to use a on-screen keyboard that can switch or give you a keyboard overlay out there?