Word X: Drag-and-drop for the French

Posted by Pierre Igot in: Microsoft
June 11th, 2003 • 10:42 pm

It is a well-known fact that most computers and most software titles are designed first and foremost for American users. Often times, their “international support” is added as an afterthought and utterly fails to grasp the subtleties of foreign languages.

Microsoft Word X is, of course, a particularly painful example.

Take this behaviour when you try to drag-and-drop a word next to a string consisting of the letter “l” plus an apostrophe. This is a very common contracted form in French, which is used as the definite article when the noun that follows begins with a vowel or a mute “h”.

In the picture below, I’ve started typing a sentence, stopped after “l” + apostrophe, and am trying to drag-and-drop a word (“ensemble”) beginning with a vowel:

A picture named Word-D&D-FR.jpg

The drag-and-drop process itself works, but since I’ve enabled the “Use smart cut and paste” option in Word’s preferences (which, in spite of its name, also applies to drag-and-drop operations, and not just to cut-and-paste), Word automatically adjusts the space before and after the word after it’s been dropped, depending on the context as Word understands it.

Of course, whatever “understanding” Word has of the context here is obviously English-based, and it obviously has no idea that “l” + apostrophe is not a separate word that should be separate from the one that comes after it with a space. So here’s what I get:

A picture named Word-D&D-FR2.jpg

What can I say? It’s painful.

I could deactivate the “Use smart cut and paste” option, but the trouble is that this option is useful in other situations, where the expected behaviour is indeed the same in French as it would be in English and Word correctly adds a space before or after if needed.

How I long for the day when we will have a truly international word-processor program!

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