Localisation Calamities with Bert

Our company recently started using Microsoft Teams as our collaboration platform.

There were many reasons why we made the change from slack – better integration with our Office 365, the fact that it came at no additional cost….well, no that’s pretty much the main reason we moved from slack. That said, regardless of how you feel about Teams vs Slack, there’s one thing I think we can all agree that Teams has over Slack: Bert.

Like most messaging apps these days, Teams comes with a whole bunch of “sticker packs”, some of which you can even edit captions onto right in the interface. If you want some pictures of cats in suits or dev robots, Teams has you covered. You can even use the named-without-a-hint-of-irony “Office Drama” stickers to take being passive-aggressive to a whole new level.

However, there’s one sticker pack that stands out above the rest – Calamity Bert:

If cartoon characters could be spirit animals, then Bert would be mine. I feel Bert and I have a connection that runs deep. No matter what I’m feeling, Bert is there feeling the same way.

After installing Teams on my home machine (Because I am as sad as Bert himself), I noticed something strange about Bert. His name had changed from Calamity Bert to something else:

Bummer Bert?

You see, in the USA the word “bummer” means something very different than in the UK, where I reside. In the US, a bummer is someone who brings everyone else down, an incompetent person, something disappointing, etc.

Whereas in the UK, a “bummer” is someone who…well….bums others. In a homosexual sense.

Now, maybe Bert is gay – I’m fine with this and I respect Bert’s life choices.

Good for you, Bert. Good for you.

The problem is, this whole time I have known him he has been Calamity Bert to me, not Bummer Bert. And although Bert is comfortable in his sexuality, I still feel wrong calling him Bummer Bert.

Luckily, it turns out this is actually a localisation decision. If you go into settings for the application, you’re able to select the Language you wish the interface to be displayed in. Why the application doesn’t just pull the language or Date format from the system itself is a question for another time.

I mean, it claims it only affects the date and time format but this setting actually changes a few things – notably Bert himself.

Notice that a whole Bert sticker even goes missing in the process! That truly is a bummer calamity.

At some point, someone had to raise the issue that you can’t call him Bummer Bert in the UK. There would have been a meeting with some high-level executive, change requests would have been made, brainstorms over alternative names would have ensued, etc.

It must have been Chaos. It just goes to show the localisation isn’t just a case of changing the words, sometimes things simply don’t translate.

I care, Bert. I care. Though Bert’s right about one thing, the AzureBot that comes with Teams doesn’t seem to care about me. It hasn’t ever responded to my messages:

It’s Tinder all over again.