Some background: To run a program in a different language, you need to have configured locales, which (to my not-really-understanding understanding) is a bunch of data files off in
/usr/sharesomewhere. Typically, you edit
/etc/locale.genand then run
locale-gen; or, if you wanna be fancy, it's
dpkg-reconfigure localesand it'll give you a list of languages to check off for installation.
But on my system now, there is no
/etc/locale.gen, though there mysteriously is a manpage for it. And the dpkg command just regenerates the English locales (all 15 of 'em, one for each dialect of English) without asking me anything.
After some poking and prodding -- everything you'll find on Google describes the same procedure I gave two paragraphs up -- I finally discovered Ubuntu bug #48573, where someone basically says "Um, this used to work and it broke." And the response is, "That is intentional. We now have a Totally New Way to configure this and it's nicely controllable via System→Administration→Language Support."
Unfortunately I don't have a System→Administration→Language Support, nor do I know where to get one. Hrmph.
* I'm not really too upset about this, as I can recognize there may have been good reasons to make the change. On the other hand, I am upset that it was broken in such a way that I can't track down the fix.