I'm currently working on an internationalisation project for a large web application - initially we're just implementing French but more languages will follow in time. One of the issues we've come across is how to display adjectives.
Let's take "Active" as an example. When we received translations back from the company we're using, they returned "Actif(ve)", as English "Active" translates to masculine "Actif" or feminine "Active". We're unsure of how to display this, and wondered if there are any well established conventions.
As far as I see it there are three possible scenarios:
- We know at development time which noun a given adjective is referring to. In this case we can determine and use the correct gender.
- We're referring to a user, either directly ("you") or in the third person. Short of making every user have a gender, I don't see a better approach than displaying both, i.e. "Actif(ve)"
- We are displaying the adjective in isolation, not knowing which noun it's referring to. For example in a table of data, some rows might be dealing with a masculine entity, some feminine.
Scenarios 2 and 3 seem to be the toughest ones. Does anyone have any experience handling these issues? Any tips would be appreciated!
Edit to clarify: the core of this question is really just "how to handle adjectives in a situation where we have no choice but to display them in isolation, when the word itself does not have a generic form". So it's not really a particularly software-specific problem