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Google - forces the use US English
you say optimization, I say optimisation - google.co.uk says optimization
gethan

WebmasterWorld Senior Member 10+ Year Member



 
Msg#: 23414 posted 9:11 am on Apr 18, 2004 (gmt 0)

So try any search with a British vs. US spelling and even the regional sites bring back;

1) Results with the American spelling - the British spelling is nowhere (ok almost nowhere)
2) Did you mean "american spelling" - no I searched on the UK site!

Frankly - I find this quite offensive.

Anyone else see this across the versions of google - different words?

I know this did not use to be the case - anyone know when it switched?

 

MrCrowley

10+ Year Member



 
Msg#: 23414 posted 4:15 pm on Apr 19, 2004 (gmt 0)

I think it is a good thing for non english-speaking people (like me: french) to have the 'did you mean' since it is sometimes difficult to know all the variations in the language. I know that the Brits and the americans don't spell 'optimi*e' the same way, but honestly I don't know which country uses which spelling (ok... I know now), In fact I use both spelling alternatively (can I say that?).

We don't have this problem in french : here in Québec (Canada) we use the French Robert and Larousse dictionnary. We use the same spelling as them for the same words, but we speak very different... we don't use the same words to say the same thing. So I guess Google could never suggest such thing as 'do you mean testicles or children?' when I use the word 'gosse'. But as you can see they mean something very different depending of the country you are in!

valeyard

10+ Year Member



 
Msg#: 23414 posted 4:16 pm on Apr 19, 2004 (gmt 0)

My trusty 1983 Chambers lists optimise as the main form and -ize as a variant, noting that in general the US prefers -ize forms.

My view is that if Google can't do localisation properly then they shouldn't do it at all. Either support UK English properly or scrap google.co.uk.

It's like those console games where we in the UK wait ages and pay extra for a UK release only to find the characters calling the ground floor the first floor.

Bloody annoying.

beakertrail

10+ Year Member



 
Msg#: 23414 posted 4:19 pm on Apr 19, 2004 (gmt 0)

I agree with the "British" way of thinking here, being British myself.

Here is the dictionary definition:


optimize, UK USUALLY optimise
verb [T]
to make something as good as possible:
We need to optimize our use of the existing technology.

Interesting how the example is in "American English".

Technically English isn't the official language of the USA due to the differences between British English and the English used in the USA. It sounds like technology in the US has evolved a new language!

Beaker

rfgdxm1

WebmasterWorld Senior Member rfgdxm1 us a WebmasterWorld Top Contributor of All Time 10+ Year Member



 
Msg#: 23414 posted 4:32 pm on Apr 19, 2004 (gmt 0)

>1) Results with the American spelling - the British spelling is nowhere (ok almost nowhere)
>2) Did you mean "american spelling" - no I searched on the UK site!

How does Google know this? Maybe you live in the UK and did a search on "widget optimisation". Maybe you don't care if the site was written by someone in the US, and you are just interested in the topic. Google thus is just pointing out the barbaric spelling variation used in the US. ;) Those who are being disadvantaged are the Americans. Google doesn't point out the Queen's English variation to US barbarians. ;)

mikeD

10+ Year Member



 
Msg#: 23414 posted 4:49 pm on Apr 19, 2004 (gmt 0)

Frankly - I find this quite offensive.

I agree totally, surely it can't take much effort from Google to help UK users instead of annoy them. All the fancy image and news search options Google launch but they can't do something as simple as using UK spellings for UK searches.

Do other people notice how these big companies always overlook the simple things which can be just as important to usability.

rfgdxm1

WebmasterWorld Senior Member rfgdxm1 us a WebmasterWorld Top Contributor of All Time 10+ Year Member



 
Msg#: 23414 posted 4:58 pm on Apr 19, 2004 (gmt 0)

>I agree totally, surely it can't take much effort from Google to help UK users instead of annoy them. All the fancy image and news search options Google launch but they can't do something as simple as using UK spellings for UK searches.

But Google *does* use UK spellings if that is what you enter. Google just adds a link like:

Did you mean: optimization

Now if Google changed the search to the US spelling without asking, THAT would be different.

zgb999

10+ Year Member



 
Msg#: 23414 posted 5:03 pm on Apr 19, 2004 (gmt 0)

"Google is (I suspect) optimi*ed for international english.
(There's apparently more people who speak english as a second language than as a first).

And international english has a very strong leaning towards americani*ed spellings."

At least at school we learnt British English and as far as I know most people in Europe do. American English is probably not seen as spelling error anymore (depending on the school) but though I couldn't find stats about it I am quite sure that much more people learnt British English than American English.

Estimates suggest that 377 million people speak English as a first language (Crystal 1997). The two largest concentrations are the USA (226 million) and the UK (56 million).

English is for about 300 million the official or joint official language (over 70 countries). Most of those do NOT use American English officially.

For English as foreign language the estimates range from 300 million to 750 million. But there is no way of quantifying the number of people worldwide who may have learnt some English at school.

I couldn't find stats about India and I don't know how many of the 1 billion people there speak English but they do learn British English (though it often doesn't sound like it when you speak with them...). India has the largest educated English-speaking workforce in the world. Its middle class of 288 million people alone equals the entire U.S. consumer base.

Does it matter? It wouldn't if Google didn't force different spellings to the user.

[edited by: zgb999 at 5:05 pm (utc) on April 19, 2004]

Macro

WebmasterWorld Senior Member 10+ Year Member



 
Msg#: 23414 posted 5:04 pm on Apr 19, 2004 (gmt 0)

Take India for example!

Oh, please don't! I lived there for most of my life and the difference between Indlish and the queen's English is larger than the difference between the queen's English and that thing they speak in the US.

Thank you very kindly for reading this massage.

BigDave

WebmasterWorld Senior Member bigdave us a WebmasterWorld Top Contributor of All Time 10+ Year Member



 
Msg#: 23414 posted 5:07 pm on Apr 19, 2004 (gmt 0)

Okay, try to forget your revulsion to our "wrong" US spelling of words, and consider how this might be helpful to the user.

We will take the word "optimizing", but not it's use as far as web pages go, we will work with compilers.

A college student studying CS has an assignment to write an optimising compiler at some UK university. So she is searching the web for information about how compilers "optimise" code.

Unfortunately the information she is looking for happens to be written in american english, so she does not find it.

Is it not helping the searcher to suggest some options?

I was under the impression that their list of words for the suggestions are not straight from the dictionary, but was built up of actual words on the internet, and if your query is very similar to a more popular word or phrase, they will suggest that.

In that way, I suspect that it is similar to the way the OED works. Most dictionaries try to define a language, whereas the OED takes the position that they are documenters of the language.

rfgdxm1

WebmasterWorld Senior Member rfgdxm1 us a WebmasterWorld Top Contributor of All Time 10+ Year Member



 
Msg#: 23414 posted 5:08 pm on Apr 19, 2004 (gmt 0)

>Does it matter? It wouldn't if Google didn't force different spellings to the user. The problem not only occurs in English. If I am looking for a word then the exact spelling as I entered it should at least have priority in SERPS!

Which is exactly the way Google works.

Macro

WebmasterWorld Senior Member 10+ Year Member



 
Msg#: 23414 posted 5:11 pm on Apr 19, 2004 (gmt 0)

Apparently Google.co.in does it as well.

[edited by: Marcia at 10:03 pm (utc) on April 19, 2004]

MrCrowley

10+ Year Member



 
Msg#: 23414 posted 5:14 pm on Apr 19, 2004 (gmt 0)

Search for Optimize : about 191,000 pages for optimize
Search for Optimise : about 91,800 pages for optimise

Google suggets with the z when you search for the s, probably because there are more than twice the amount of records for the second option. There is no suggestion for the s when you search for the z, probably because the records found outnumber the record sthat would be found using the other syntax. It is therefore a behaviour that looks more 'algorithmic' than 'racist'...

valeyard

10+ Year Member



 
Msg#: 23414 posted 5:39 pm on Apr 19, 2004 (gmt 0)

It is therefore a behaviour that looks more 'algorithmic' than 'racist'...

Oh absolutely. I'm certainly not suggesting an anti-Brit conspiracy by gun-toting, cricket-hating 'Plexers.

As someone else said, it's simply a matter of failing to notice something very obvious and hence upsetting local sensibilities. Too much reliance on PhDs, too little on common sense. Again.

As I said last time we discussed this: If Google committed to supporting UK English on .co.uk they could get *massive* amounts of good, free publicity in the British media.

PS: Personally I can't stand cricket...

BigDave

WebmasterWorld Senior Member bigdave us a WebmasterWorld Top Contributor of All Time 10+ Year Member



 
Msg#: 23414 posted 5:42 pm on Apr 19, 2004 (gmt 0)

rfg,

While Google might give some priority to the exact word over the stemmed version, it certainly does not give enough in my opinion.

It is on the more obscure searches, where I am looking for something very specific, that it bothers me the most. Thes might be searches that would have only returned a few hundred accurate results before, but by stemming all the words in the search phrase, it will come up with thousands, and a much greater chance of inaccuracies.

On the flip side, I never, not even once, had any problem finding anything because they did not have stemming turned on.

Now, I can see value in recognising stemmed words as well as synonyms to rank a site for a specific keyword, but don't bring up the stemmed words as results.

gethan

WebmasterWorld Senior Member 10+ Year Member



 
Msg#: 23414 posted 5:49 pm on Apr 19, 2004 (gmt 0)

I think my initial search for - "example example optimisation" - (I think we can all guess) - and the results all coming back with the US spelling is probably the most extreme example. Google's use of stemming becomes extremely obvious here - and shows up what I consider to be one of the major weaknesses in the current algorithm.

I'm wondering what real searchers make of this though? Most of us can really only speculate... being so heavily involved in the industry.

Putting a +optimisation brings back different results.

Does the stemming work the opposite direction?

MrCrowley

10+ Year Member



 
Msg#: 23414 posted 6:05 pm on Apr 19, 2004 (gmt 0)

What about accents? Search, for example, for 'cuvée'. It will give you many results, but more than if you search for 'cuvee'.

The results look very much alike though. There doesnt seem to be any distinction for google whether there is an accent or not to include the page in the results. Lots of results are present in both searches. What is the logic behind that?

By the way, a word can mean something completely different if the accent is present or not. Some nouns are distincted form verbs with an accent (for example, livre means book and livré means delivered). Even when I search in Google france, there is no distinction between both words.

I think it is a problem far more important than a 'did you mean' link.

rfgdxm1

WebmasterWorld Senior Member rfgdxm1 us a WebmasterWorld Top Contributor of All Time 10+ Year Member



 
Msg#: 23414 posted 6:10 pm on Apr 19, 2004 (gmt 0)

>I think my initial search for - "example example optimisation" - (I think we can all guess) - and the results all coming back with the US spelling is probably the most extreme example. Google's use of stemming becomes extremely obvious here - and shows up what I consider to be one of the major weaknesses in the current algorithm.

Checking the cache, it looks like all those sites have either "optimization" also on page, or in the inbound anchor text. This may be largely an artifact of US sites using the American spelling when linking. I don't think this is stemming, but instead the power of inbound anchor text. Run that search using quotes. 2.9M using the US spelling, and only 443,000 with the UK spelling. US spelling just dominates on the Internet.

And, in this case people in the UK may prefer the SERPs as they are. This topic isn't regional. Much like the example before of "optimisation" when it comes to computer programming. Sites using the US spelling are quite relevant to UK programmers.

john_k

WebmasterWorld Senior Member 10+ Year Member



 
Msg#: 23414 posted 6:13 pm on Apr 19, 2004 (gmt 0)

Doesn't Google use Dictionary.com data or services for the spelling check? I would think they are limited to what Dictionary.com provides. Do they have regional settings?

HarryM

WebmasterWorld Senior Member 10+ Year Member



 
Msg#: 23414 posted 6:21 pm on Apr 19, 2004 (gmt 0)

Although I believe the OED prefers -ize to -ise these days.

In certain academic circles, -ize is seen as the educated spelling (derived from Greek), whereas -ise is a degenerate form, although of course in this dumbed-down world it's fast becoming the norm. There was an Inspector Morse mystery which hinged on this very point.

Just my 2c's (sorry 2p's) worth...

rfgdxm1

WebmasterWorld Senior Member rfgdxm1 us a WebmasterWorld Top Contributor of All Time 10+ Year Member



 
Msg#: 23414 posted 6:30 pm on Apr 19, 2004 (gmt 0)

>In certain academic circles, -ize is seen as the educated spelling (derived from Greek), whereas -ise is a degenerate form, although of course in this dumbed-down world it's fast becoming the norm. There was an Inspector Morse mystery which hinged on this very point.

Is this true across the board in UK English for -ise and -ize? The reason that I ask is that the title of the thread is "Google - forces the use US English". If it would be expected that Professor So-and-so at a university in the UK would be using "optimized" in his writings, then this isn't so simple as Google forcing US English on UK searchers. If Google forces the search as -ise, then they also will be filtering pages written by UK academics.

john_k

WebmasterWorld Senior Member 10+ Year Member



 
Msg#: 23414 posted 6:38 pm on Apr 19, 2004 (gmt 0)

There used to be lies, damn lies, and statistics. Now it seems there is English, American English, and Google English.

Is that GEnglish, Googlish, or Goonglish?

rfgdxm1

WebmasterWorld Senior Member rfgdxm1 us a WebmasterWorld Top Contributor of All Time 10+ Year Member



 
Msg#: 23414 posted 6:44 pm on Apr 19, 2004 (gmt 0)

>Is that GEnglish, Googlish, or Goonglish?

Perhaps "Internet English"? One thing the Internet is drastically changing is how much more people around the world are communicating with each other. This forum being an excellent example. This speeds up evolution of language.

BigDave

WebmasterWorld Senior Member bigdave us a WebmasterWorld Top Contributor of All Time 10+ Year Member



 
Msg#: 23414 posted 7:00 pm on Apr 19, 2004 (gmt 0)

Well, just for the halibut, I logged in to the OED online (most libraries have a subscription, you do have a library card, don't you?) and guess what I found in that dictionary from the UK?

There is not entry for "optimise", but there is an entry for "optimize".

And let me repeat, this is the Oxford English Dictionary, from Oxford England. How are we Yanks to get it right when your own comprehensive dictionary gets it wrong?

rfgdxm1

WebmasterWorld Senior Member rfgdxm1 us a WebmasterWorld Top Contributor of All Time 10+ Year Member



 
Msg#: 23414 posted 7:14 pm on Apr 19, 2004 (gmt 0)

Hmm...

[google.co.uk...]

Results 1 - 10 of about 117,000 for optimize

[google.co.uk...]

Results 1 - 10 of about 148,000 for optimise

That's restricting results to UK pages. There are more with "optimise". However, there isn't *that* much difference between the 2 results. Meaning that "optimize" isn't just US English. People in the UK using that spelling are significant.

ciml

WebmasterWorld Senior Member ciml us a WebmasterWorld Top Contributor of All Time 10+ Year Member



 
Msg#: 23414 posted 7:24 pm on Apr 19, 2004 (gmt 0)

> isn't so simple

I agree with that RFG, and Dave's on the case now too.

It's been pointed out already that Oxford University Press put -ize before -ise (I think for etymological reasons where Greek derived verbs are different from French-derived nouns). However, Cambridge University Press put -ise before -ize (I think due to overwhelming usage patterns, hence Chambers' preference for -ise). As far as I can tell, the American spelling of -ize derives from phonetics. There is a point to this...

If Google were to consider word groups like [-ize¦-ise] on a case by case basis, they could argue over verbs and nouns, Greek and French derivations, etymology vs. current usage vs. phonetics, cultural sensitivities and of course the intent of a typical searcher. The issue would quickly become as clear as mud. Even the OED spells 'advertise'; whether this is due to the French roots of the word or just inconsistency I have no idea.

Still I'm British and perhaps that's why, for me, linking to the 'other' results would be preferable to assuming that I want both sets at once.

mikeD

10+ Year Member



 
Msg#: 23414 posted 7:29 pm on Apr 19, 2004 (gmt 0)

Okay, try to forget your revulsion to our "wrong" US spelling of words, and consider how this might be helpful to the user.

This is totally wrong.

If this was the case why don't Google offer the English spelling option when entering the american spelling.

Is does all seem to smack of arrogance, why should American English take precedence over the "Original" and "Proper" English spelling on Google UK.

If Google was helpful to the user it would supply the UK spelling when entering the US spelling in Google UK.

BigDave

WebmasterWorld Senior Member bigdave us a WebmasterWorld Top Contributor of All Time 10+ Year Member



 
Msg#: 23414 posted 7:35 pm on Apr 19, 2004 (gmt 0)

till I'm British and perhaps that's why, for me, linking to the 'other' results would be preferable to assuming that I want both sets at once.

I really am with you here. Give the user the exact results they search for, with the option to expand their search to include those other spellings if they desire.

What bothers me is the objections to "Do you mean?" links to help the searcher find more results, just because it bothers their national pride.

I suspect that the reason that OED lists it as "advertise" is that is the considered to be the preferred spelling the world over. (notice that I did not say "proper spelling")

If you do a search on google, you get 55,900,000 for "advertise" and only 107,000 for "advertize".

rfgdxm1

WebmasterWorld Senior Member rfgdxm1 us a WebmasterWorld Top Contributor of All Time 10+ Year Member



 
Msg#: 23414 posted 7:41 pm on Apr 19, 2004 (gmt 0)

>Is does all seem to smack of arrogance, why should American English take precedence over the "Original" and "Proper" English spelling on Google UK.

It doesn't:

[google.co.uk...]

Results 1 - 10 of about 560,000 for optimise

[google.co.uk...]

Results 1 - 10 of about 3,620,000 for optimize

That is using the radio button "the web". Those SERPs are very much different. Enter the "Original" and "Proper" English spelling on Google UK", and the US spelling is not given pereference.

john_k

WebmasterWorld Senior Member 10+ Year Member



 
Msg#: 23414 posted 7:46 pm on Apr 19, 2004 (gmt 0)

From Google's FAQ at [google.com...]
checks to see if you are using the most common version of a word's spelling. If it calculates that you're likely to generate more relevant search results with an alternative spelling, it will ask "Did you mean: (more common spelling)?".

"most common" would seem to be an important part of this.

I really can't believe that people are ranting about this. It's simply an >automated< suggestion they make. Of course it will not apply some of the time!

This all reminds me of my 3 year-old that gets into a tizzy (am I sure I didn't mean tissy?) when I ask if she wants help with something.

Chndru

WebmasterWorld Senior Member 10+ Year Member



 
Msg#: 23414 posted 7:50 pm on Apr 19, 2004 (gmt 0)

These days, even if Google sneezes, it gonna become an issue. For e.g. [theage.com.au...]

BigDave

WebmasterWorld Senior Member bigdave us a WebmasterWorld Top Contributor of All Time 10+ Year Member



 
Msg#: 23414 posted 7:50 pm on Apr 19, 2004 (gmt 0)

MikeD,

It is because Google doesen't give a rip as to what is the "proper" spelling, they are only telling you that you can find more infomation using the more common spelling.

If you brits go ahead and produce enough pages to take the lead in the online useage of a word, then it will switch directions.

It is absolutely in the users interest to point out to them that there is an alternate spelling that produces a larger number of results than the one they used.

My god, you brits are becoming as bad as the french and their laws to protect their mother tongue. It really is pathetic that you are actually offended by a suggestion on how to find more results.

I honestly would not be the least bit offended if Google suggested that I also check a search on "colour" or "optimise".

You know, it just might make you feel better to do a search on "aluminium" and notice that it does not in fact suggest that you search on "aluminum". I guess that there is some threshold where they don't force you to use our "incorrect" spellings.

Seriously, stop being offended for a moment, and try to see if you can possibly come up with any reasons that it might be a good thing.

[edited by: Marcia at 10:20 pm (utc) on April 19, 2004]

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