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RE: International Internet Icons

From: Lacoursiere, Guy <Guy.Lacoursiere@Cognos.COM>
Date: Mon, 2 Apr 2001 12:49:27 -0400
Message-ID: <032CF340440DD2118C0700805F85882663D7F6@sota0201.cognos.com>
To: "'Frank_Cutitta@idg.com'" <Frank_Cutitta@idg.com>
Cc: "'Tex Texin'" <texin@progress.com>, Richard Francois M <Francois.M.Richard@usa.xerox.com>, "'paul.a.brandt@us.pwcglobal.com'" <paul.a.brandt@us.pwcglobal.com>, www-international@w3.org
>My experience has been that the house symbol has been an
>internationally acceptable iconic convention despite the
>variations in the form factor of houses or apartments/flats

It depends on what you mean by "internationally acceptable".

Is the house icon recognised by anyone using Internet Explorer or Netscape?
Yes, undoubtedly. Users have learned its meaning. So, millions of users can
recognise it. But, can an icon be considered international simply because
the big ones use it? I don't think so.

To me, an international icon is one that conveys, represents and illustrates
a meaning. Meanings have no boundaries, but words do.

The house icon does not represent a house, but a "home".  And a home is not
a house, but "the-safe-place-where-you-can-always-come-back-to" or else
"the-place-where-something-starts". In English, it can also mean your native
country, and in baseball, the "home base" is the initial, first or start
base. These are the meanings that the icon is trying to convey, but it has
nothing to do with housing.  In French, for example, my home is "mon
chez-moi", my home (country) is "ma patrie" and in baseball, it is "la base
de départ". None of these meanings have any relationship with a house.

It is no surprise that most translators have decided to convey the meaning
of the icon (Démarrage, Startseite, Anfang, Inicio, etc.) rather than the
meaning of the picture. For those who haven't, the meaning becomes: the icon
with a house on it! Not too telling. ;-)

I am not so worried about the actual depiction of the house on the icon.
People who use computers may not all live in a yellow bungalow with a red
chimney (see IE!), but I believe they will all recognise the image as that
of a house. What is not transparent to non-English users is why one would
use the image of a house to mean "go back to the beginning".

Guy Lacoursière
Cognos Incorporated
Software Globalisation Consultant

-----Message d'origine-----
De: Frank_Cutitta@idg.com [mailto:Frank_Cutitta@idg.com]
Date: lunedì 2 aprile 2001 11:03
À: Lacoursiere, Guy
Cc: 'Tex Texin'; Richard Francois M; 'paul.a.brandt@us.pwcglobal.com';
Objet: RE: International Internet Icons
Guy writes

>The symbol of the home icon (the house icon, as I call it) is totally
>obscure to non-English users.  To a French, German or Japanese user, what
>does a house have to do with the concept of "returning to the initial

So what is Internet Explorer and Netscape using for the symbol for Home Page
around the world on their top tool bar ?

My experience has been that the house symbol has been
an internationally acceptable iconic convention despite the variations in
form factor of houses or apartments/flats worldwide.

No so ?

Frank Cutitta
Senior Vice President
International Data Group (IDG)
Received on Monday, 2 April 2001 12:49:55 UTC

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