IxD translation ?

21 Jan 2008 - 12:03pm
8 years ago
4 replies
1767 reads
Pedro Neves


I've realised that it's not consensual the usage of Interaction Design
in English in all languages, for example in the translations of the
First Principles from Bruce Tognazzini (
http://www.asktog.com/basics/firstPrinciples.html) the translation it's not
made in German and Italian language, but in Polish, Spanish, and Dutch,
Interaction Design as a title, it's translated.

>From the IxDA point of view what's the most correct?

Best regards
Pedro Soares Neves


30 Jan 2008 - 6:53am
Pedro Neves

Thank you Elizabeth, I agree with everything you have written.

But trying to go further and find a consensus about standardization
of the title Interaction Design, our community in Lisbon arrived into
a consensus, we will maintain the original English version name.

best regards
Pedro Soares Neves

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Posted from the new ixda.org

30 Jan 2008 - 9:17pm
Luis de la Orde...

"I've realised that it's not consensual the usage of Interaction Design
in English in all languages.
From the IxDA point of view what's the most correct?"

" I don't think it's an industry decision so much as a cultural or
linguistic one, depending more on the target language and audience than the
sector in question."

" our community in Lisbon arrived into a consensus, we will maintain the
original English version name."



I find it a bit concerning that by taking a set of translations of one
single publication, some of us, Portuguese-speaking IxD professionals might
end up vouching for a consensus based on a logical mould that had it been
employed in IxD itself would be considered too biased to yield any fruitful
conclusions. What brings us to the core of the theme of professional
ownership of an area: IxD/HCI/Usability cannot own the answers for
linguistic questions, firstly because there has already been tomes and tomes
of research published on linguistics combined with every other human science
under the sun such as psychology, sociology and politics, and, secondly, all
these studies point to the not very surprising conclusion that most
individuals understand concepts better and faster in one given natural
language, generally their mother tongue or the tongue they have more
exposure than in a language they have less exposure; even if they were
brought up in bilingual homes, they will still side to a language they feel
psychologically comfortable.

It really scares me how difficult it is for the Portuguese-speaking digital
intelligentsia in both sides of the Atlantic, generally composed by us
white, male, middle-class, bilingual folks to understand language and tongue
as the first gateway to accessibility and consequently usability and
usefulness for the rest of our audiences (to hell with the audiences, being
pragmatic: to our own families is a good start (can our children and parents
at least pronounce, without feeling ashamed or awkward for their own
ignorance, the name of the job we do in life?)). Here we are in a profession
whose foundations are based on user-centredness and reinstating users'
control of their environment, and the first thing we do is to enclose
ourselves behind a language barrier. Should doctors, after almost a decade
of studies, expensive university fees and learning materials, tell their
patients about their diseases in Latin and Greek terminology as they were
taught in first place?

We are definitely getting it all wrong in the Portuguese-speaking world
because lots gets lost in translation, in our own translation of what is
right and wrong and of what is consensus and common sense. The positive
trade-off of using terminology (so easy to translate, by the way: design de
interação, or as you say in European Portuguese, design de interacção, there
you have it) in foreign language is not consensus and union but mainly a
personal feeling of being at the top of the world with a job title that most
people cannot even pronounce, at the sacrifice of all other speakers (i.e.
the users).

We glamourise the hermetism of the non-translated simplicities; the obvious
truth we turn magical with the cheap trick of hiding the keys behind our
backs and offering the curious the minute keyhole of a box for a 2-second
glimpse plus the invoice. We want to be included in the creation of
everything in the world but when time calls for the help of professionals of
the areas we are failing, we can be as amateurish as those who don't hire us
for their "oh-it-is-so-going-to-flunk" projects and decide to come up with
the solutions ourselves, sometimes even as a Synedrium. Oh, yeah, we love
the power of being the godblessed Portuguese-speaking oracles and
reincarnations of Alan Cooper, Norman and Nielsen, Jared Spool, Jesse James
Garrett, Robert Hoekman Jr. and every other name I can glance in my book
shelves from my desk, we not only speak like they speak, we also prefer to
speak the language they speak, even if by doing that we contradict the most
basic principle of this whole industry: make it easy for the users.

We are the ones who know the only correct spelling of the name of God, we
can recite Pi to its last foot, but we are not telling it so easily. If one
happens to know it as well, the consensus is to do as scribes of a
technological Zion and keep it foreign; let's keep it as old Hebrew,
withholding the vowels so that only the literate and holy can read them and
know exactly what it is all about. Our mass is in Latin. Let's keep it
omertà and laugh while the idiots guess what a "usabilisation engictect" is,
but not before splitting our sides watching them trying to get the
pronunciation right, it is going to be Fawlty Towers all over again:
http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=o8DngrgIpS0 . After all, what are we doing in
the Portuguese world? Forfeiting the pearls from the pigs or actually
burying the talents the lord trusted us?

"Right, people you have to tell me these things, okay? I've been frozen for
thirty years, okay? Throw me a frickin' bone here!"
- Doctor Evil, Austin Powers: International Man of Mystery.



31 Jan 2008 - 2:20pm
Pedro Neves

Perfect Luís!

"our community in Lisbon arrived into a consensus, we will maintain
the original English version name."

- this from professional to professional, I think that for each usage
the sensitivity of the speaker will determine if immediate translation
it's needed.

In fact the English words usage in our Portuguese world sometimes
it's a cheap and low quality attempt of creating some kind of
fashionable aura around something.

Translations are needed, and wen we talk about translations, we talk
about thinking the idea from a different culture point of view, it's
not only the words, but also the sense that it's cause. (as Luís

That's why discussing this theme in the IxDA context it's so

Pedro Soares Neves

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Posted from the new ixda.org

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