Tweaking Fritz - PART 8

by ChessBase
6/30/2008 – The "Language" options in Fritz sometimes confuse even experienced users of the software. Our ChessBase Workshop columnist solves the mysteries and describes the settings in his latest column. Workshop...

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In our penultimate ChessBase Workshop column on Fritz11 tweaks, we're going to discuss something a little bit confusing to some people: the "Language" tab.

Let's get the ball rolling by firing up Fritz11, clicking on the Tools menu, selecting "Options", and then clicking on the "Language" tab:

The first thing you notice is a pulldown menu for "Program language". You actually selected this when you first installed Fritz11. However, if at that time you also chose to install all language files you should see other languages available in this pulldown. If you don't, and if for some reason you want to switch the primary program language, you'll need to reinstall your Fritz software.

OK, now comes the (slightly) complicated part. To understand it, we'll need to take a look at the Fritz annotation window (the place when users can type text annotations to game moves):

You can type in all kinds of stuff in this box, and have it appear in the Notation window as a text annotation attached to a move. Guess what? So do ChessBase annotators, the masters and grandmasters who annotate games which appear in ChessBase databases.

Here's how this window is supposed to work. An annotator selects a language tab at the top of this window before typing his text commentary; ideally, he or she will pick the same language they're writing in -- for example, I'd be choosing the "Eng" tab for my comments. Someone annotating a game in German would choose the "Deu" tab. A Frenchman annotating a game in his native tongue would choose the "Fra" tab before typing, and so on.

The secondary function of this dialogue:

is to mask (hide) annotations written in languages which the user doesn't understand. So, for example, if you're bilingual and speak both English and German, you could have chosen "English" as your primary language (which you'd have done when you installed Fritz11 -- see above). You'd use the pulldown below "Alternative annotation language" to select "Deutsch" (German) as the second (alternative) language in which you'd like to see annotations displayed. Ergo, text annotations in any database games in which the annotator typed his comments under the "Eng" or "Deu" tab will be visible to you. Conversely, text comments typed under any of the other language choices would be hidden from you; thus if an annotator wrote commentary in French under the "FRA" tab, you wouldn't see them. (This explains why you'll sometimes see a game in the game list marked with a "C" for "lots of commentary" but see no text annotations when you load that game: they're written in a language which you've not selected. The annotations are there but they're masked because of your language choice.)

There's a way to tweak this further -- the series of radio buttons just below that second pulldown menu. You can choose to display "One" language (your primary choice only), "Both" languages (your primary and alternate selections), or "All" languages (which will cause the software to always display text commentary regardless of which tab the annotator selected).

All right, then -- this is ideally how it's supposed to work. But there're a couple of flies in the ointment. First, what if an annotator types his comments under the wrong language tab? For example, let's say that an annotator writing in Italian has typed his commentary under the "Eng" tab? In this case, people who've selected "English" as one of their language choices are going to see text commentary in Italian.

But the second potential pitfall is much more common -- so much so that it's borderline infuriating. Let's go back to the annotation box again:

Notice the leftmost language tab marked "ALL". If an annotator types his commentary with this tab selected, it means that every user will see the commentary, no matter what language(s) he's selected. Needless to say, the majority of ChessBase database annotators use the "ALL" tab, which renders 99% of what you've read so far in this column completely moot.


I wouldn't care, except that a significant number of users over the years have written to me to:

A) Complain that various games are annotated in a language they don't understand (and usually tack point B below on to their letter somewhere);
B) Inquire about Fritz' "obvious" language translation capabilities -- after all, why else would this "Language" tab exist if not to translate annotations from one language to another?

Trust me on this: Fritz doesn't translate game annotations from one language to another.

However, it does do a character conversion, which is the last part of this dialogue. If game headers are written in Cyrillic or Greek characters, the software will convert them to English characters if this is selected here.

We have one last column left to go to finish describing Fritz11's "Options" tweaks. Until next week, have fun!

You can e-mail me with your comments on ChessBase Workshop. No tech support questions, please.

© 2008, Steven A. Lopez. All rights reserved.

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