From the question here: Is it reasonable to use language codes in an interface?

There's an answer here: https://ux.stackexchange.com/a/94459/30812 which specifically states that flags should never be used to denote language selection, because of the potential to offend a user by putting a nationality next to their language.

Examples such as Portugal and Brazil, UK and Ireland and potentially many more neighbouring countries which share a language but not a culture.

Is there any guidance on this aspect? Are English speaking users offended by a Union flag or the USA's stars and stripes if they live elsewhere?

Is it appropriate to use flags when an application is targeting a specific locale? Would this help to indicate that the dates, spelling and currency will be in a specific format? For example, the currency, the date formats, the data is specific to a locality, the target audience is going to be split between a few countries only.

  • 1
    Would you use the Brisish flag (which would denote English) for USA, Australia, Canada, etc? Probably not. Commented May 21, 2016 at 14:48
  • 2
    I would, if the date formats were dd/mm/yyyy and the spelling and grammar was British.
    – RemarkLima
    Commented May 21, 2016 at 16:04

1 Answer 1


It depends how specific your localisation is.

If you are using British English, date formats, currency etc, then it might be appropriate to use a flag.

If you are using international English, international French, etc, then I would just put the name of the language, with no flag.

  • What's international English? And French has an official source (en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Acad%C3%A9mie_fran%C3%A7aise?wprov=sfla1) so would it ever be international? Not meaning to be picky, but genuinely curious is there really is an international version of a language, rather than just an international audience of a localised language?
    – RemarkLima
    Commented Aug 10, 2016 at 18:05
  • "International English" is apparently what gets taught to people who are learning English as a second language. It has a smaller vocabulary than localised versions of English. Example: in British English, there are rugs and carpets, and they are different; in international English, they are all carpets. As to how things are phrased in international English, I am not sure. Phrasing is often different between North American English and British English. Re international French: not sure if Quebecois recognises the Academie Francaise :) Commented Aug 11, 2016 at 9:24
  • +1 for the extra detail. That said, I've always found international students are usually taught American English, with regards to spelling and grammar... The fact it's a cut-down vocabulary is more down to time and effort and learning capacity. My French vocabulary is very limited, but not because of being taught International Franch, but simply because I'm too thick to learn it ;)
    – RemarkLima
    Commented Aug 11, 2016 at 9:56
  • The differences in phrasing between different versions of English are quite striking, e.g. British English has "go and check" and American English has "go check". It's also very noticeable if you switch between the locales on Facebook. Commented Aug 11, 2016 at 15:31

Your Answer

By clicking “Post Your Answer”, you agree to our terms of service and acknowledge you have read our privacy policy.

Not the answer you're looking for? Browse other questions tagged or ask your own question.