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I am copywriting for an app that also includes French as a language. According to official writing guidelines, grammar may be wrong for the sake of brevity, e.g. instead of saying "Would you like to save the changes?" one may ask "Save changes?" Now, in French there is a tendency for sentences to become very long. e.g. "Select profile picture" would become "Sélectionner une image de la profil" As I am not a native speaker of French, I am unsure in which ways shortening of French sentences is acceptable for the sake of title brevity. Would it, for example, be acceptable to write "Sélectionner image profil"? What are common phrasings for titles in French?

Moved discussion to French SE: https://french.stackexchange.com/questions/53608/in-which-ways-is-bending-french-grammar-for-titles-acceptable/53612#53612

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    Better ask in French Language SE
    – Danielillo
    Sep 1 at 11:53
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    The question is very specific about the French language and there are other sites where it is probably easier to find an answer. But since the question is about the user experience of labels (in a different language) it is suitable for this site. So I think it should be left open.
    – jazZRo
    Sep 2 at 7:38
  • How can I close it though? Without deleting it? Because obviously the info where the question is now, is relevant. Sep 4 at 8:30

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It is interesting that there is an official writing guideline or writing style guide that says grammar may be wrong for the sake of brevity. I can only assume that there are very specific circumstances that you need to cater for in this app. Another similar example I can think of is with subtitling when there is a limited character width per line, and a limit on how many lines can be displayed per time period, so you have to just translate as best as you can even though for certain language pairs it will end up with incomprehensible translations.

If there is already a guideline, then I think it also needs to specify what are the acceptable ways or limitations for doing this, otherwise you won't be able to apply it consistently across the titles (and other bits of writing you need to do). But without any such directions, I think the only sensible thing to do is to shorten or bend the French in a way that it can be done most consistently across all the titles (and other snippets of text).

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  • See m2.material.io/design/communication/writing.html#principles It doesn't explicitly say "You can mess up grammar for the sake of brevity", but it does show and recommend examples of it, e.g. "Save changes?" which is technically not proper English grammar. Sep 16 at 18:18
  • @SarahMultitasker I would be cautious about citing Material Design as something that is official, since it is more of a design system created for commercial applications rather than something from a government website such as the United States Web Design System (designsystem.digital.gov)
    – Michael Lai
    Sep 18 at 2:18

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