Bad Language


Bad Language.

It’s a hot spring health resort in Germany…the water tastes like dirty feet but it is rumoured to cure dandruff. You can see people from all over Europe wading through the white drifts to get up to the kursaal. Warning to the uninitiated – those aren’t snow drifts…

But back to the topic on hand – the language program inside your digital camera. You never had to worry about it in the pre-digital days as the only words printed on most cameras were open/auf and closed/zu. You might have gotten an exotic instruction pamphlet or two when you purchased your 35mm camera but it never got further from the English centre line than German, Italian, French, or Japanese. Not to put too fine a point on it, everyone else were considered lesser creatures and expected to learn a major lingo. It is only the advent of the microprocessor and memory that allows us to see Hindi, Russian, Thai, Serbo-Croat and everything else on the back screen of the camera.

If we are dedicated to one of the world’s languages this must be a comfort. A call from home when you are far away – like seeing the road signs in Alberta in French as well as English. The fact that they generally say ” Quebec is that way, go back! ” is neither here nor there. It’s a cultural code, eh?

There are only three things that bother me about the proliferation of language in the menu of a digital camera:

a. The fact that there is so damn much to read. In the old days all I needed to find on a camera was the aperture, shutter speed, and distance, and these were pretty well covered with numbers. Unless it was a camera dug up out of ancient Pompeii and all the numbers were in V’s X’s and I’s, I could operate it pretty well. I did not make too many mistakes in what I chose to do because there were not that many choices!

b. Are the people who are reading Persian or Greek or Mandarin reading the same thing that I am in English? Are there secret settings for the Turks that are never revealed to the rest of us?

c. Is the ” foreign ” language being presented well? We have all read Japlish in the 50’s and 60’s and howled at it. We can read Chinglish now from some of the small factories and do the same. Are there Spanish mistakes in there? Would the people of Bangladesh collapse in laughter when they tried to change a setting in the back of their mirror-less camera. Are they all too polite to say anything…or are they unwilling to spoil an in-joke.




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