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Don't use 大 ("big") character for translation icons
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Description

The Chinese character used in 'Translation' is confusing because it means 'big'. Especially in a text-editing context it can be misunderstood as "make text bigger".

We should either use the VE icons which uses the 'a' vowel from Japanese Hiragana 'あ', or if Chinese, the 文 character which means 'language' (and is used by Google translate)

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+1, it may also derived from "大丈夫" (no problem)

When looking for a representation of "language" I initially proposed the use of "A" and "あ" (example). The rationale was to pick two symbols that could be associated with writing and language widely both being initial symbols of diverse writing systems.

@violetto pointed that the "あ" was too complex. That made it problematic in small sizes and looked visually unbalanced compared with the simpler "A" symbol. I agree with this, and I'd recommend using a simpler symbol to keep the overall icon simple. That is, not using "あ". The "大" symbol seemed a good choice since it looked simple but still recognisable as a writing symbol, and it shared some common strokes with symbols in other writing systems (some examples from Hangul: ㅅㅈㅊ)

I agree that the chosen symbols should avoid confusion, and it would be great to hear more details on the kind of confusion that the meaning of the symbol has in Chinese is creating. These problems have not emerged in Content Translation where the symbol is used on many critical parts of the translations process, but that does not mean that the confusion does not exist. Since @violetto has some familiarity with Chinese, she may be able to add some more details.

If we find 大 to be problematic, using 文 could be a good option since it does not increase the shape complexity too much and has the benefit of having a meaning aligned with the general meaning of the symbol. Although we need to check that this does not produces interferences (if the symbol already reads "language" why there is an "A" next to it?).

When looking for a representation of "language" I initially proposed the use of "A" and "あ" (example). The rationale was to pick two symbols that could be associated with writing and language widely both being initial symbols of diverse writing systems.

@violetto pointed that the "あ" was too complex. That made it problematic in small sizes and looked visually unbalanced compared with the simpler "A" symbol. I agree with this, and I'd recommend using a simpler symbol to keep the overall icon simple. That is, not using "あ". The "大" symbol seemed a good choice since it looked simple but still recognisable as a writing symbol, and it shared some common strokes with symbols in other writing systems (some examples from Hangul: ㅅㅈㅊ)

At what pixels sizes that we use is あ not legible?

I agree that the chosen symbols should avoid confusion, and it would be great to hear more details on the kind of confusion that the meaning of the symbol has in Chinese is creating. These problems have not emerged in Content Translation where the symbol is used on many critical parts of the translations process, but that does not mean that the confusion does not exist. Since @violetto has some familiarity with Chinese, she may be able to add some more details.

It could easily be mistaken to mean 'make text big', especially in VE. I read a bit of Chinese as does @dchan who flagged this up.

If we find 大 to be problematic, using 文 could be a good option since it does not increase the shape complexity too much and has the benefit of having a meaning aligned with the general meaning of the symbol. Although we need to check that this does not produces interferences (if the symbol already reads "language" why there is an "A" next to it?).

Chinese will occasionally used mixed scripts (especially in places like Hong Kong), but I don't think either "A大" or "A文" could me mistaken to mean anything else. Chinese users will be used to icons having Latin letters in them (B/I/U).

@Esanders and @Pginer-WMF: iOS Mobile apps uses the following icon to view articles in different lang.

Any suggestions/improvements or the icon is fine?

Amire80 added a subscriber: Amire80.

If I understand correctly, T121977 is for CX, so I removed the CX tag from this task.

@Esanders and @Pginer-WMF: iOS Mobile apps uses the following icon to view articles in different lang.

That's the basic idea - although I think that one has been styled to match the iOS icon set by using thin lines.

At what pixels sizes that we use is あ not legible?

I don't think it currently becomes illegible. In fact, the symbol is not intended to be read.
I just think that picking a symbol with less strokes will make the overall icon more simple, making it easier to parse at a glance. If we have to replace one symbol because of their meaning, I'd prefer to pick one that does not increase the visual complexity. Fortunately there are many symbols in human writing systems to pick from.

It could easily be mistaken to mean 'make text big', especially in VE. I read a bit of Chinese as does @dchan who flagged this up.

That makes sense. Thanks for adding context.

Chinese will occasionally used mixed scripts (especially in places like Hong Kong), but I don't think either "A大" or "A文" could me mistaken to mean anything else. Chinese users will be used to icons having Latin letters in them (B/I/U).

It seems that "文A" is a good candidate to standardizing the representation of the "language" concept, then.

To me, 大 stands out as somewhat arbitrary because it's hard to ignore its meaning of "big". To me 文 seems better because its meaning fits the meaning of the icon.

We had the same issue with the arbitrary character 袓 (which everyone was reading as "ancestors") in the original Wikipedia icon - it was changed to 維 which is the first character of "Wikipedia" and therefore has a meaning that fits.

Another user on github where the font repo is at has expressed the suggestion for 文 as well, which I also agree with.

https://github.com/munmay/WikiFont/issues/32

I can realistically work on this only next quarter. Is this urgent for any teams, I realize this task hasn't been triaged. Alternatively I can also advise someone who wants to take this up to make the change.

@violetto created an updated version of the icon:


Change 264201 had a related patch set uploaded (by Jforrester):
MediaWiki, Apex themes: Replace 'language' icon with tweaked version

https://gerrit.wikimedia.org/r/264201

Change 264201 merged by jenkins-bot:
MediaWiki, Apex themes: Replace 'language' icon with tweaked version

https://gerrit.wikimedia.org/r/264201