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I have been helping to translate MarkdownPad into German and have come across a problem that has always made me wonder.

How do you handle translation in regards to hotkeys? The problem being, the hotkey is denoted in the translation item by an underscore. For example, the File menu entry would be:

_File

In German, the correct term for that menu item is "Datei". Sadly, that term does not contain an F, so I can't denote the same hotkey with the underscore.

If I was the maintainer of the whole translation, I guess, I could just pick whatever new hotkey I like. But I'm not and I could be picking a hotkey that is already used by another item.

Additionally, I personally prefer hotkeys to be consistent across languages (although I'm aware that not everyone might agree with me here).

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Welcome to UX.se. That question has already been asked here: ux.stackexchange.com/questions/39074/… –  JohnGB May 14 '13 at 9:18
    
@JohnGB: Oh, cool. I hadn't found it when I searched. Thanks! :) –  Oliver Salzburg May 14 '13 at 9:19
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marked as duplicate by JohnGB, Matt Obee, 3nafish, rk., Charles Wesley May 14 '13 at 15:22

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2 Answers

For that particular kind of case, the way Microsoft's applications (used to) handle this (before switching to the ribbon) was to have the hotkey listed specially in the menu item:

Datei (_F)

It's a bit non-obvious for new users, but at least there's some precedent for it. However, I'd say that menu accelerators and other shortcut keys are an application-wide concern, so for the whole app there should be one person who chooses all the accelerators. That's the only way to make sure that when two functions want the same letter, the choice of which one gets it is sensitive to how often the two functions are used and what alternatives exist. Also, it's the only way anyone will spot and exploit patterns and similarities between different menus, allowing the interface to feel more familiar to the user.

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I think the most simple way is to leave those things as it is. (English). Sometimes when you come across such things your best off leaving it English because that's the world language.

Correct me if i'm wrong.

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