Program when English is a second language

A topic the other day made me reflect on on how small the world has become, and the need for information to be more universal across different languages.

Do programming environments offer/support regional languages?

I don’t mean that the output (the program created) is for use in other languages, but that the programming environment (IDE, language syntax, etc…) itself is.

I kind of take for granted that to me, there is just one way to spell BackgroundColor. Not not just whether color is Color or Colour, but that color isnt the same in other languages. And that in some human languages it may be more common to use a noun-adjective format than a adjective-noun format.

For example, in English (the US version at least) a stick that is the color red, would be referred to as the “red stick”. Where in French the words translate as: red-> rouge, and stick->baton. But “Red Stick” translates as “Baton Rouge”

Does a “smaller” company like Infragistics support the use of BackgroundColor and BackgroundColour? Do they support the french use of whatever a portmanteau term like “BacjgroundColor” would be?

I know that Excel function names change when using German language.

Not generally… Languages (like real Languages) have specific syntax and so when you program in a specific language you need to learn that languages Syntax and Lexicon :stuck_out_tongue:

There are a bunch of programming languages out there that aren’t english… or … any language at all…

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I do speak German, English, Bosnian and from what I can remember of Dutch. Its all pretty much in English. If you are a programmer outside of the US, your first goal should be, learn English its almost a pre-requisite, and all the good articles you find are written in English.

Makes me wonder if someone takes Computer Science in Germany, if they actually have to take a bunch of English classes.

Aside Question: (curious)

Does Epicor have all their User Guides translated into German, French, Spanish (the major ones)

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I was even wondering about things like character sets. Do European keyboards have a dollar sign ($) key?

The language Jquery uses it extensively. Although it is just an alias for jQuery, so

var divs = $("div");       

is the same as

var divs = jQuery("div");

If the $ isn’t on your keyboard you can type jQuery instead.

And I meant to end my original post with:

If you speak two languages, you are bilingual.
if you speak three or more, you are multilingual.
If you speak just one, you are American.


Good point, I remember using a keyboard in germany, they had the Euro sign and you had to hold FN down with shift to get the dollar sign… I wonder if they just use US Kbd layout when programming, good question.

The German keyboard layout is great. It has everything you need, including all of the umlauts, the ß and also the µ. For programming, however, the German keyboard layout is :poop:: The normal braces are on 8 and 9 with shift state, just off by one from the English ones at 9 and 0, but the square and curly braces are available only on Alt-Gr combos left and right from that. Also the forward and backward slashes are Shift and Alt-Gr combos. You can imagine that this slows you down.

So, to be more efficient when writing code, I tried and trained myself to use an English keyboard layout. This is, what I learned.

The German keyboard layout is nice, but it totally lacks comfort when writing code. Reaching the brackets is hard, and you struggle with a lot of Alt-Gr combos. A normal English layout is better by far for code, but it lacks the ease of language-specific things like umlauts.

As a German developer, my English keyboard layout of choice is the US International, as it allows for my German umlauts as well as providing me the better layout for programming.
– GingerTale

I wonder what @ERPSysAdmin does, she uses English keyboard but lots of stickers and glitter… it qualifies as a foreign keyboard.


Those are all Germanic languages (not sure about Bosnian), so makes sense they’re similar. I’ve traveled to Germany a lot, and if you just think about the words, you can guess their meaning with a better than 50% accuracy.

I joke that written German is just English, if it was written with a German accent. :wink:

  • Grun -> Green
  • Sauerstoff -> Oxygen (because oxygen makes food stuff go sour)

Although I had problems finding my car once. I know that I parked it on a street named “Straße”. And once I found it the highway signs for the city of Ausfahrt where everywhere.

Since Windows allows multiple keyboards to be attached at once, you could actually have two connected at all times. :slight_smile:

Despite what most people think, it’s actually very easy to program in emojis:
switch (:neutral_face:)
case :smile::
case :smiling_face_with_three_hearts::
case :thinking::
case: :nerd_face::
case :grimacing::
case :woozy_face::
case :partying_face::
case :yawning_face::
loooong break;
case :angry::

And you can’t help but smile when you do it! :stuck_out_tongue_winking_eye:


Interesting thread! @Hogardy or @EDoe or @Alexandre_Pothier could certainly comment.

I took my first computer science course in English using Python, and then the next one was in French using C++. It was pretty confusing, and I could see I had a major advantage being a native English speaker.

On the other hand, French is almost an object-oriented language itself, where English sentences tend to focus on verbs and actions, I find French naturally emphasizes subjects and objects grammatically. You may think there’s no connection, but in French you could say “a stick of colour red” and it would be correct (un baton de couleur rouge) , whereas in English it would sound strange. If you were programming, that’s a lot like stick.color = “red”.

So there are probably advantages all around to learning multiple languages to broaden one’s mental capacity. A common soapbox for me here in Québec.

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I was brought up in a Francophone house, went to French schools. Started programming when I was around 12yo, started with BASIC, then some COBOL, FORTRAN and then 8080/88 assembly, followed by 6502 assembly, before I got onto the VB train, and later the .NET train. By the time I was in the second half of high school (4th year of 5 of high school around here), I was almost 100% bilingual, in no small part due to the fact I had to learn English to program in any of those languages. Naturally I gravitated towards computer science optional classes… but I abhorred them. It was hell being taught programming with French terms. Because none of them actually applied to any of the programming I was doing, and I had to mentally translate everything to English to be able to use it anyway! Since then, all my “continued education” as a developer has been in English exclusively.

Learning programming is very much like learning a second language. You shouldn’t look at the language as “being in English”… It’s a bit like learning German, as an English speaker. Lots of words are very similar, but you would never say that “German is in English”, nor would speaking English really help you learn German all that much…

Translating programming languages (like Excel does) is a mistake, and would be an absolute nightmare if it was ever implemented across the board… Can you imagine having to deal with programmers who all learned to program in their individual tongue? In a place like Montreal, where almost 20% of the population’s primary spoken language is something other than French or English, it would make hiring programmers and managing the code they wrote impossible…

Just as French was once the de facto language of diplomacy across Europe, English is very much the de facto language of IT…

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While traveling on the Autobahn with a German friend I saw all the signs to Ausfahrt and thought all these roads goto Ausfahrt and I have never heard of it. So I ask my friend if we could go visit Ausfahrt! needless to say I got some confused looks. ops.


Interestling to hear your experience. My family was Anglophone (and Australian before that) but my dad had the foresight to insist that his kids went to French schools. I am sure that knowing multiple spoken languages - at least if you are aware and reflect on the differences in grammar and syntax - helps to better pick up programming languages.

I recently took a couple of short courses in Arabic, just to ser what I could make of a right-to-left language without the alphabet I’m used to. I could just about feel afhesions tearing in my brain muscles, and I’m sure the experience has broadened my processing ability. However, I can’t imagine learning to program in a left-to-right language if your upbringing was right-to-left.

Fascinating ay!

I am a “Canadien français - Québécois” on the 24th it will be our festive day called “Fête de la St-Jean”!

I learned English (and all it’s bad words… :wink: ) in the streets … playing with my english friends.
I started out programming with machine language (thank god the cardboard programs devices got replaced in time ! ) experimenting with a Z80. Then came Pascal which was great as we could relate our pseudocode to the actual code. Throughout the years, english was the way to go (even though french version of the development tool was available, I was sticking to the english version, for ease of reference when I needed some help over the web, I could relate to within the app. Also, sometimes the french translation for common words …well it is easier to say CPU (as we all understand) than Unité de Contrôle logique ( UCL ). It is a choice I have made. (the same choice I do watching a movie in it’s original version instead of the dub version…) one exception is for English(England) or more like the Irish accent (sorry mate :grin:) which I have difficulty with, I would then use the translated caption on bottom of screen… )

So back to programming… as Calvin pointed out…the use of colour, color or couleur… It all goes down to what are the specs says about the expected properties.

I use FrenchCanadian keyboard (meaning the keys show specific french letterings like é ç à etc… because…well I do more than just code… I write on this computer…in french… so it is easier to use.
(when are the keyboard manufacturer will make them available for game players? I love those colors lighted up keys… :hugs: ) I used a German keyboard at work (came with a production machine we had installed and replaced it’s KB…My boss decided to use it in our server room… all I could remember to use was "rollen rollen " twice in order to view our servers list…

Steve you indicated learning right to left… it is not easy…I can imagine… hell I often do a clicking combination that place all my code right justified…
(I never am able to notice what I do to get there BUT I cannot be used to my code becoming right justified! )
I just close my widow and re-open it to recover … :wink:


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So when using Excel with the workstations regional language set to something other than English, function names are in the regional language?

Like if I want a formula to use
and my regional language was set to French, I would use something like

Does Excel store the function name with some universal key, and apply the appropriate language?

If a person in France made an excel file (in French), and sent it to me, When I open it, would any of the builtin functions be translated to my local language?

CTRL+SHIFT will toggle the Right-to-left or Left-to-right justification in some of the Epicor editors.

I prefer to use the keyboard for selecting text. Holding shift down while using right (or left) arrow keys, extends (or shrinks the selection range). If the Ctrl key is down when you use left or right arrow, it jumps a word at a time. CTRL+SHFT+arrow extends the selected text by a word at a time.

But before you even start tapping the arrow key, the CTRL+SHFT will toggle the Left -right justification. If you find it Right justified, letup on all keys and press CTRL+SHFT once.


wow, I forgot about Pascal. I guess Python wasn’t my first, I played with Pascal in the Lazarus IDE way back.

Interesting that you’re using the French Canadian keyboard, we have the “Canadian Multilingual Standard” on a lot of machines, and we all hate it, Anglos and Francos alike. Much prefer ctrl+` for è and à, ctrl+, for ç etc.

So when using Excel with the workstations regional language set to something other than English, function names are in the regional language?

Yes. It’s terrible…

Does Excel store the function name with some universal key, and apply the appropriate language?

I would assume this is how it does it, yes.

If a person in France made an excel file (in French), and sent it to me, When I open it, would any of the builtin functions be translated to my local language?

I haven’t tested it, but I would expect it to do so. I just avoid Excel at all costs…

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