Technology for more than one language, please
But technology is not made for us.
Although computers have operating systems in many languages, once you have chosen one of them you are completely locked in: support in any other language means going through complicated menus that are usually not immediately reachable and that have way too many options (e.g. every time I change my spell check language I have to select between ALL languages, not just between those that I actually speak); key widgets are available in the main OS language only (try installing an English language Apple dictionary/thesaurus on your Mac, while also installing an Italian and a Dutch one); going through user forums; or relying on the web.
Nokia, which is a company that should know better (as Finnish is only spoken by 6 million people), is not much of an example either. European phones come pre-installed with dictionary support for language regions (no help if you are a Belgian living in Italy), and it is nearly impossible to change that unless you start mucking around with the firmware of the phone. Even changing my T9 language support during messaging from let’s say English to Italian takes me at least 8 clicks (Options > 4 down on the list: Writing language > 3 down on the list: Italiano).
In the end you end up messing around, tinkering, hacking solutions together, struggling and being frustrated.
Has there been any research on this? Any article? Any best practices?
Hear, hear! I frequently shift between English, Norwegian & German.
I used to live in England, and bought my last phone there. The annoying this was when I was text messaging my friends in Norway as it did not have support for Norwegian language!
The Iphone has solved this in a much smarter way: You just add all your languages, and then there is one key on the keyboard which you use to switch in between the languages. This also automatically changes the spelling aid and keyboard layout. Smart!