On being International
Mac Tip #256/16-August-2006
Earlier this year I co-authored a book for an American publisher: WordPress 2: Visual Quickstart Guide — it’s about how to set up and use a WordPress blog.
One of the tricky parts of the writing was that I needed to use American grammar, vocabulary and spelling. Words like realize and color had different spellings, and commas seem to be much more common too.
Spelling is a whole thorny issue for non-American Macintosh users, and for us Kiwis it has the added dimension that we don’t use exactly the same dictionaries as speakers and writers of British, or even Australian, English. I’m sure many others around the world have similar problems too. It seems we are, by definition, ‘International’.
The first step in making our Macs works well for us is to look at the International System Preference and to choose a Language that we prefer. Mac OS X 0.4 offers a huge selection.
Go to the blue Apple menu and choose System Preferences…, then click on the International pane and make sure you are looking at the Language tab.
It will contain a fairly long list of languages, probably with English at the top, unless you deliberately chose some other language when setting up your computer. Beware: here the word ‘English’ means ‘International English’.
To see the full list of available languages click the button labelled Edit List…. Note that additional ‘English’ possibilities include Australian, British, Canadian, U.S., and there is also an item labelled Māori, which seems to actually mean English.
Note for those not in New Zealand: Māori are the indigenous people of this country, and they have their own language, first written down when Europeans arrived. It uses the English alphabet, but includes a small horizontal line called a macron above some vowels, indicating that they are pronounced a little differently.
Check all the languages you feel may be useful or interesting for you and click the button labelled OK.
Your choices are reflected in the Languages list. Drag your preferred languages to the top of the list. Then log out and back in to your computer, to see the change reflected in the Finder.
Next week: More on Being International.