Re: Verbs form in UI actions

On Mon, 18 Dec 2006 15:23:29 -0000, Dale Gulledge <dgulledge gmail com> wrote:
I wonder whether most English speakers think of them as imperatives, and
what languages other than English don't think of them as infinitives.
I think it is important to keep in mind that none of us are representative
of typical English-speaking computer users on this issue.

I think, as a native English speaker, I'll step in at this point...

My guess is that most English-speaking users don't pay much attention to
what form of the verb is used in menus. There are three reasons. The first is that in English, the imperative is the infinitive without the auxiliary
word "to" in front of it.

Strictly, this is an English grammatical argument which grammarians disagree on. The difference 'twixt the imperative and the infinitive is given by context and placement (generally the imperative will be first in the clause), sometimes they are indicated by prepositions or punctuation, e.g. "go" (infinitive) may become "to go"; "go" (imperative) may become "go!".

But, as Modern English has watered down verb tenses a lot, we don't really have an imperative case anymore (not since Olde Englisc). So imperative == infinitive (for most verbs).

So in conclusion:

As long
as the action performed is what the user wanted and expected, the exact
words aren't that important.

It's really what makes sense in the language that is being translated to. I often wonder whether English, with its lax structure and promiscuous grammar, is the best language to be the base language.

If it helps, even the flavours of English can get into arguments about what the best tense of the English verb is, especially when we come to made up verbs like "colorize" or "ellipisize" which do not translate from the American dialect of English to other dialects of English very well.


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