Facebook: if you form a civil partnership you must be gay

Chez Lexicool, via MM, Katia, who, using Facebook in English, described herself as being in a civil union with Juan, only to have a lucky escape from her mother-in-law, who, using Facebook in Spanish, had understood that this was in some sense a homosexual union, and was just about to order some educational literature from Amazon.es when light dawned.

This minor disaster is an unfortunate side effect of an initiative this time last year which, with the aim of doing well by doing good, broadened the repertoire of relationships available to include the options “in a civil union” and “in a domestic partnership.” In many jurisdictions same-sex marriage may be the most common end facilitated by civil union legislation, but being able to form a legally recognised, affectionate partnership without taking on board marriage’s historical baggage is valued by a wider public. So it’s curious that the translation “unión civil” was rejected.

How does Facebook translate its UI? Is there some element of inverse correlation floating out there between the profitability of an enterprise and its willingness to pay for translation?

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