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Re: Howto provide and link to foreign language translations?

From: <tina@greytower.net>
Date: Tue, 23 Sep 2003 14:26:43 +0200 (CEST)
Message-Id: <200309231226.h8NCQkr16116@localhost.localdomain>
To: w3c-wai-ig@w3.org

On 22 Sep, Jesper Tverskov wrote:

> Yucca has a more or less convincing list of arguments.

  If you can find them, yes.

> 1. Even with just one flag for another language on a web page, this 
> flag is very likely to attract too much attention. This is probably
> not what we want. If we use two or more flags, they are almost bound
> to draw all attention of the user arriving at the web site. This
> is not what we want.

  Possibly, but it might just be what a visiting *user* wants. If the
  person in question finds a document he/she is utterly unable to
  understand, they want to quickly and efficiently locate a translation.

  Flags are easy to locate - visually. Of course, this does not solve
  the problem for a visually impaired user, but it *does* help others.

> 2. Even if we use flags there should also be text links for easy
> navigation with the keyboard and to make the symbols easier to
> understand for many users. A couple of flags can soon turn a
> simple task into big business on a web site.

  This goes almost without saying - but still, it needs to be said. You
  are of course utterly correct - using proper ALT texts and including
  redundant text links is good practice. One, I'm sad to say, we've not
  followed. Something we should change.

> 3. In diplomacy and foreign affairs flags for language are bound to
> be problematic and to stir up controversy again and again. I find it
> very silly to spot Union Jack on a web site of a Danish or Italian
> embassy or consulate, etc.

  Ah, but now we are back to personal opinion of it. For a non-Danish
  speaker, that Union Jack is a symbol for "English" that he is used to
  in other circumstances.

  It is quite likely, with the rigid rules that do exist, that embassy
  staff make such decisions with care. In an ideal world, of course.

> 4. What flag should represent Arabic, and should we use the North
> or South Korean flag for Korean. What flag should we use for Latin
> and Esperanto? What about Hebrew and Greek talking about the Bible?

  I would think that the Greek and Israeli flags would both cover the
  latter two very nicely. For Arabic and Korean the question is, of
  course, more complicated. That cannot be disregarded.

> 5. No business should use Union Jack to indicate English language in
> many parts of the world. It could stir up hostile feelings. Sorry,
> that is a fact.

  Feelings, Jesper, is never fact. We dispensed, for the most part, with
  the method of introspection many, many years ago.

  I'm sorry. I don't buy into the "We need to coddle the user 'cause he
  might get insulted" theory *at all*.

  Flags are, quite simply, graphical symbols that allow a sighted user
  to quickly locate a specific functionality/translation. If we are
  going to put anything MORE into them, then we must surely do so with
  the words we write as well - beware of talking about your friend Dick,
  someone might be insulted.

  That particular can of worms is one best left unopened.

> But any web designer should know that flags to indicate language
> cause problems for usability and accessibility in many situations.

  Indeed, and you have presented two very good arguments: what about
  non-sighted users, and what about languages where no flag can be said
  to associate directly ?

  Good, solid, arguments without any luggage. Why not write up an
  article that raises *those* problems, Jesper ? We could then refer to
  your article instead of one in which the packaging is insulting to
  many ... 

 -    Tina Holmboe                    Greytower Technologies
   tina@greytower.net                http://www.greytower.net/
   [+46] 0708 557 905
Received on Tuesday, 23 September 2003 08:26:49 UTC

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