gender voice variants

Caoimhin O Donnaile caoimhin at
Wed Dec 19 21:52:58 CET 2012

If it is appropriate to use ietf language tag variants to denote the 
gender of the speaker (or the person spoken to?), then maybe it would be 
appropriate to use variants to denote the age/formality relationship too - 
eg. tutoy vs. vouvoyer in French; duzen vs. siezen in German.  Mediawiki 
already uses the code de-formal to denote the German translation using Sie 
instead of Du.

Some years ago a software package, OpenOffice if I remember, went out to 
contract to be translated into Gaelic and the translators used the 
polite/formal form of address consistently in the translation - including 
in imperatives which of course appear all over the place in a computer 
program (e.g. “Select the text which you want to copy”).  The software 
went out to primary schools and the polite/formal form was not a success. 
The young children were only used to it being used for “you (plural)” and 
barely understood what the program was asking them to do.  The translation 
was changed to use the singular/informal form in the next edition.

This page has a bit of discussion of the issue:


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