A theoretical framework and empirical examination of the effects of foreign and translated interface language

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Given the increased globalization and popularization of computer applications, translating a system's human interface into the local language has become a major consideration for software vendors and distributors. In this paper, we suggest a theoretical framework for the study of user interface translation. The framework includes recognizing vendors' and users' costs of, and benefits from, software translation. An experiment was conducted, based on this framework, to test user performance and preferences regarding interface translations. The experiment manipulated the translation of two interface components: documentation language and manipulation language. The results indicate that users are sensitive to different combinations of interface translation in a way that is commensurate with the instruction-following process (Terwilliger and Polson 1997). Users performed best when a fully translated interface was used and worst when only the manipulation language was translated. Users' preferences were in line with their performance, indicating that a cost benefit approach can serve as a promising starting point to the study of interface translation.

Document Type: Research Article

DOI: http://dx.doi.org/10.1080/014492900118759

Publication date: January 1, 2000

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