[development] code proposal: localization of currency, ...

Hans Salvisberg drupal at salvisberg.com
Thu Oct 18 21:42:30 UTC 2007

What I'm trying to say is that any attempt to select a currency format 
based on the language choice of the user is misguided.

Ivan Sergio Borgonovo wrote:
>> Forget about currency. Currency is completely unrelated to the
>> user's language, and it certainly shouldn't change, just because a
>> user changes their language.
> Well you can express amounts in dollars, euros, yuan with different
> formats as you express floats.

Sure you /can/ do anything, but you're doing a disservice to the 
community if you introduce a flawed feature that well-meaning people 
might start using!

> French people may expect something like:
> 1.234?56
> the - sign can take different places:
> - $ 1.234,56
> $ -1.234,56
> etc...

How do you tell the French...

> an American may expect to read
> ? 1,234,56

... from the American?

Let's try a concrete example. We have, let's say


Now, the user changes his language to French. Apparently, you're jumping 
to the conclusion that he must be a member of the "French people" -- 
that's wrong more that two thirds of the time, but if we leave that 
aside for the moment, what do you propose to do with those two cents now?

Consider the same scenario in Canada -- what do you propose to do?

Let's try another example: A Swiss website (default language: German) 
sells something in Swiss Francs and Euros, and a price tag might look like

     CHF 1'700.70
     EUR 1.000,50

Now the user changes his language to a) French or b) Japanese (hint: Yen 
amounts have no fractional part). What do you propose to do?

I've never actually seen a website that uses two different number 
formats -- so maybe try this instead:

     CHF 1 700.70
     EUR 1 000.50

 > In *many circumstances* people won't tolerate that numbers/currencies
 > don't get displayed in their local format.

Quite the contrary is true. People are well aware that every website is 
located in some specific country, and they expect currency formats to 
follow the customs of that country, no matter what language they select. 
A website should never try to impersonate a foreign nationality, 
especially when it deals with monetary amounts.

BTW, as to "won't tolerate" -- how many people (besides yourself) do you 
know who won't buy something, just because the website formats the price 
tag differently than their local grocery store?


P.S. Apparently, the message digest script munges your currency symbols 
and I'm only seeing question marks, so describing in words would help...

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