Windows 11’s latest endearing mess rigorously and wrongly enforces Britishisms

For those of you a little confused about what a postcode is, it’s effectively the same as a US zip code; a way of distilling a postal address down to but a few characters. Hence why some rogue auto-translate function in Windows 11 is occasionally switching ‘zip’ to ‘postcode’ in the UK’s Windows menus.

As a translator myself, this is easy enough to explain. Either we’re looking at a terrible machine translation that wasn’t properly vetted, or a translator/reviewer not getting enough context to properly translate this string. As translators, we often get the absolute bare minimum to work with when it comes to software – usually just the strings, and if we’re very, very, very lucky, we might get a screenshot, but that’s a rarity. It’s easy to look at this and think the translator is an idiot, but without any context, some isolated strings, often delivered in a random order, can be incredibly hard to translate in a way that makes any sense in the target context.

It’s just another way the software industry gets away with bottom-of-the-barrel effort, something no other industry is allowed to do. A random package of disposable paper plates has to adhere to more standards, controls, and checks than consumer software has to do. Managers in the consumer software industry face virtually no consequences for shipping the absolute bare minimum in quality, and unlike in any other industry, shipping broken garbage that never gets fixed is the norm, rather than the exception. There’s no other product category in our lives where we would tolerate the amount of brokenness that’s common in software.

And, of course, software translations are no exception. It’s an easy target for managers to outsource and automate to “save money”. This is what it leads to.


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