gender voice variants

Mark Davis ☕ mark at
Thu Dec 20 02:45:08 CET 2012

We actually have had a use case for formal vs informal.

Some (online) products are meant to be more 'social', and thus informal
(du), while some products are meant to be more 'business', thus formal
(Sie). The problem comes in when you have shared online components. You *
really* don't want to mix du and Sie on the same page, addressing the same

When the component is used within a social product, the product should
select the locale "de-informal"* for the component, while when used in a
business product, the component should use the locale "de-formal"*.

Mark <>
*— Il meglio è l’inimico del bene —*

On Wed, Dec 19, 2012 at 5:31 PM, Broome, Karen <Karen.Broome at>wrote:

> Michael,
> When you're not working with an OS and just small audience-targeted
> strings, the gender matters. You're talking about differences between OSes
> in terms of whether they use formal case or not, not the very real need to
> distinguish an individual app string intended for a male from one provided
> to a female in the same application context. I can't make a use case for
> your creating formal and informal versions of an OS, but I can make a very
> common case for needing two strings that are identical except for target
> gender.
> Making work for localizers in the interests of using language properly and
> not offending whichever gender I shortchange? Sure. The use cases for this
> are application-level. I'd rather employ a localizer than be asked to
> answer a list of survey questions as if I were a man when in the Czech
> Republic. When creating an app, adding the ability to address a woman as a
> woman and a man as a man in languages that distinguish this is likely worth
> the localization dollars.
> Without this, you force people to make kludge-y
> ("developer/developerette") or sexist choices (present male voice to all
> female app users) every day.
> Regards,
> Karen
> -----Original Message-----
> From: ietf-languages-bounces at [mailto:
> ietf-languages-bounces at] On Behalf Of Michael Everson
> Sent: Wednesday, December 19, 2012 5:17 PM
> To: ietflang IETF Languages Discussion
> Subject: Re: gender voice variants
> On 19 Dec 2012, at 19:47, "Broome, Karen" <Karen.Broome at>
> wrote:
> > 私は (watashi wa) versus 僕は (boku wa) in Japanese....
> >
> > All of these things potentially come up in localized web forms and web
> services that use the tagging -- especially for marketing and sales, and
> yes, these tags are used for such impure things.
> Yes, and the Mac OS in Danish says "du" to you and not "De", and the Mac
> OS in German says "Sie" to you and not "du". What is it you want? To
> multiply localizers' work by four by offering choices to the end user as to
> whether the computer is a boy or a girl or whether the computer knows
> whether you are?
> Michael Everson *
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