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Re: [WAI-IG] Serving my page in the right language

From: David Woolley <david@djwhome.demon.co.uk>
Date: Tue, 16 Mar 2004 07:53:01 +0000 (GMT)
Message-Id: <200403160753.i2G7r1Y01548@djwhome.demon.co.uk>
To: w3c-wai-ig@w3.org

> An URL to a web page should be a uniform resource locator serving the
> same content to all people, what is served should not depend on the
> browser or user agent people use.

Language negotiation is based on the user, not the user agent.  Failing
to language negotiate means that people will be given a sub-optimal
version of a resource because the URL they saw was for a specific
language version; it may well be that the page author and the reader
share a common language, but the author of the page from which the
link was taken was using a language in which the author was weak.

Morevover, the content of a web page is the information it contains,
not the sequence of words.  A Harry Potter book in Chinese is still that
Harry Potter book (and still, in fact, has the English title on the
cover).  The alt attribute is also an example of where the same content
is provided in different forms to people expressing different preferences.

Language negotiation ought to be particularly important for international
companies, who are normally identified by a brand name, as it would
allow the single www.example.com branding to serve all language communities,
without going through a language selection page.  As it is now, one
either always goes through such a page, or anyone in a non-dominant
language has to find the link to the language or language selection page,
guess the regional version of the site name, or guess the convention for
constructing the URLs of alternative language versions.

In fact, even ATM's, at least outside the USA, have language negotiated
for a long time.  You will get the language associated with your
card, not the language of the country that hosts the machine.

Although Jonathon has abandoned this list, my response to his
SVG rant (his word) also hinted that supporting the non-literate
"market" without providing alternative pages, could sometimes be 
handled by language negotiating (although more complex than the languages
he is envisaging, I believe many people consider British Sign Language
to be distinct from English, as it has a different grammar, etc.)

> 
> It is bad practice to use the HTTP Accept-Language header as a code fork
> for what an URL should mean.

I think you mean to say that Accept-Language should be deleted from the
standard, as it is of little benefit to anyone without server side
negotiation!  In fact, I think you mean that there should be no
server side negotation at all; if people cannot handle SVG, you will
require them to go elsewhere for the GIF fallback.
Received on Tuesday, 16 March 2004 03:19:13 UTC

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