Localisation Issues of Software Shortcut Keys

TitleLocalisation Issues of Software Shortcut Keys
Publication TypeJournal Article
Year of Publication2012
AuthorsGrigas, G, Jevsikova, T, Strelkauskyte, A
JournalLocalisation Focus - The International Journal of Localisation
Date Published2012
Keywordsaccess key localisation, command key localisation, shortcut key localisation, software internationalisation, software localisation

No common agreement exists on whether all shortcut keys should be localised during software localisation or not. The main argument in favour of the localisation of shortcut keys is a possibility to preserve mnemonics in the target language, whereas the main argument against their localisation is a possibility to maintain uniform command letters in the source and target languages. The aim of this paper is to investigate the localisation of shortcut keys and find a compromise between the contradictions mentioned above. The statistics of letters used in the command keys (i.e., Ctrl+letter) of 50 popular computer programs have been collected and analysed. The stability of command-letter pairing among different programs is evaluated and the recommendations for localisers are presented. The recommendations are based on the existing traditions of software design, existing practices of the major software producers, and the stability of command-letter pairing. The letters of command keys are divided into three main categories according to the strength of the relationship between the command and the letter. The categories are as follows: international (not to be localised), those that may be localised, and those that should be localised. Features of the combinations of the command keys with numbers and special characters are discussed as well. One more finding is that the Ctrl+Alt combination in the source program must be considered as an internationalisation error, since almost all languages that use the Latin script have letter keys with some characters on the third keyboard level, and the aforementioned key combination is equivalent to Alt Gr which is the recognised key to access third level characters.