Here we go, yet another misguided attempt at localisation: my MySpace page is now in German.
MySpace now joins PayPal, eBay, Amazon, Google in defaulting to German for Swiss people.
Switzerland is a multilingual country. The linguistic majority speaks Swiss-German (reasonably close to German but quite un-understandable for native German-speakers who have not been exposed to it). Second language in the country is French. Third is Italian, and fourth is… (no, not English) …Romansh.
You know how linguistic minorities are. Touchy. Oh yeah.
As a French speaker with rather less-than-functional German, I do find it quite irritating that these big “multinational” web services assume that I speak German because I’m Swiss. I’d rather have English, and so would many of my non-bilingual fellow-cititzens (particularly amongst web-going people, we tend to be better at English than German).
Yes, I’ve said that English-only is a barrier to adoption. But getting the language wrong is just as bad, if not worse (most people have come to accept the fact that English is the “default” language on the internet, even if they don’t understand it). If I want my Amazon books to be shipped here free of charge, I have to use Amazon.de, which is in German, and doesn’t have a very wide choice of French books. My wishlist is therefore on Amazon.de too, which maybe explains why I never get anything from it.
Paypal is almost worse. I can’t really suggest it to clients as a solution for “selling stuff over the internet”, because all it offers in its Swiss version is a choice between German (default) and English. You can’t sell a book in French with a payment interface in German or English.
So please, remember that country != language, and that there is a little place called Switzerland scrunched up in the middle of Europe, caught between France, Italy, Germany and Austria (Liechtenstein is even worse off than us I suppose), and that not everyone in that little country speaks German.