April Issue: Things to Consider for Localization into Russian

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In my personal and professional life I have often encountered social networking that have been localized into Russian. More often than not, localization into Russian reveals internationalization issues that should have been addressed at the design stage. I would like to point out some of the things to consider if you plan localizing your site into Russian.

  1. Russian is an inflective language, meaning that constructions like “Jim’s albums,” where an apostrophe and an S are added to the person’s unchanged name are problematic. Russian has different possessive forms depending on the person’s gender and the last letter of their name.
  2. Past-tense verbs have gender and number. Therefore, “Jim added a photo” will be different from “Jane added a photo.”
  3. Russian numbers are a nightmare even for Russians. The noun following the number will have a different form depending on the number. Luckily, there are “only” three forms.

Solution? While not every language quirk can be accounted for at the design stage, perhaps introducing variables accounting for gender and number could save localizers a lot of pain.

Do you know any examples of things that do not get localized nicely into your language?

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