Lost in translation

In English, when reading numbers out loud, one often “chunks” the numbers into smaller groups. For example, when reading the phone number “555-1212,” one would say “five five five, one two one two,” not “five hundred fifty-five, one thousand two hundred and twelve.”

Similarly, one would call Interstate 280 “interstate two eighty,” not “interstate two hundred and eighty.”

Toyota’s Prius GPS does this. It’s an example of good design — speak the language your customers speak.

However, this falls apart when you switch the Prius over to French. Exit 420 becomes exit quatre (4) vingt (20). The problem? In most parts of the French-speaking world, 80 is also pronounced “quatre vingts” (“four twenties”).

In this case, you have to listen to your GPS and read the screen to be sure you take the right exit.

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