loses it’s English voice

I like Google, I really do. It’s my primary search engine. I like their university roots and what they’ve done. There’s no question they have shaped and nurtured the internet in a way no other search engine has done. Searches come back lickety split and Google Scholar is awesome. Their photos and news section are tops.

I can input both English and Chinese (Mandarin, 普通话, 国语) on my computer. Mostly I type English, and every so often I do Chinese. Sometimes I like to torture myself by going to Mainland China and Singapore websites to read Chinese. It’s not often but a little searing pain between the ears helps you appreciate what you have. A reasonable memory for Chinese words. And English.

Google Chinese people haunted me today
Today was not intended to be one of those painful days, and certainly I’ve not done anything painful previously while on I logged in to my account, in English, as normal and went to update my personal information. After I clicked “Create a profile”, the whole screen went Chinese. It said if I needed help, click here (in Chinese). What I needed help on was how to get back to my native language. Back I went to the previous page, went to another Google link on my account, which was English. Nice. I input my country as Canada, and my language as English. Surely that would do it.

As I navigated through the labyrinth of Google screens, I felt something was chasing me. More Chinese screens were popping up. I’d backtrack and they’d disappear. Then my once previously English screens started turning Chinese. The more I tried to run, the more they appeared in front of me. If they were people, I’d be able to ask them, in fluent Mandarin, what the hell are you doing? Stand aside so the English screens can come through. This was not possible. I could only wonder in amazement how Google could so vividly come to life. Today, Google truly freaked me out.

I could not stand it any longer. I clicked my other tabs to other web sites and resumed my computing, all without issue, in English. After a couple more minutes, I thought that the Google Chinese people would have grown tired of “helping me”, become bored (Stooping down on their haunches. There’s nothing to see here. I’m a Chinese person speaking Chinese. If you want action go see that foreigner over there), and move on, but no, they were still present.

I switched to They must know that Canada is not China, that there are few Chinese people here. Chinese people only account for 4.3% of Canada’s population. I found this document with, you guessed it, Surely Google would go English on me from the soil of Canada. Alas, no. Once past the first couple of screens, the Chinese Google people kept after me, yearning and pleading to go to their side, to switch over. Let it be, dudes, we’re multilingual here in Canada, and it’s Ok.

I’d had enough playing with Google Chinese people. I logged onto a nearby computer that seemingly was not haunted by Google Chinese people. Reassuringly, Google acted normally, as good friends always should.

Whatever new technology Google has in store for the future, I hope it does not include Google Chinese people chasing me through the Google labyrinth. Surreal, yes. Helpful, no. I am not a technology neophyte, but whatever Google has in store for us, this technology needs to have it’s bugs worked out. I’ll wait for version 2, and then not install it.

1 thought on “ loses it’s English voice

  1. David Ing

    I’ve increasingly become a bigger user of Firefox search engine add-ons. I first modified my searches to go to because it wasn’t helpful to get Finnish-oriented results when in Helsinki, and and Japanese-oriented results when in Tokyo. I almost made a relapse back into metasearch engines, but my current focus is academic research, so having the same search terms going into different engines — i.e. Google Scholar, Google Books and then — saves me from having to copy-and-paste content into three different browser windows.

    I would have to assume that Google uses cookies in your browser, so that your preference for Chinese over English is recoreded somewhere. I hadn’t really thought about that — I have to also admit to finding Google mostly benevolent — but if the problem wasn’t associated with your user profile (on Google’s server), then it must be associated with cookies in your browser. I haven’t looked at the lists of cookies in my browsers in some time — but that’s really hygiene and maintenance that I guess I’m letting slip.

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *