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

From: Marjolein Katsma <hgnje001@sneakemail.com>
Date: Tue, 16 Mar 2004 12:29:29 +0100
Message-Id: <>
To: w3c-wai-ig@w3.org

At 09:19 2004-03-16, David Woolley wrote:
[Jesper Tverskov wrote:]
> > I'am not sure that language detection is a good thing. When I use an
> > English browser (I do) I want a French web site, a Russian website, etc.
> > to be in the original language when arriving. Then I can change language
>I think you are being confused by a combination of not knowing how to
>configure your browser, and an over-simplification in the user interface
>in your browser.

The real problem Jesper is referring to is that "your browser" may not be 
*your* browser at all. Even if you know how to change its language 
settings, it may not be allowed or even polite to do so (can you be sure 
you know how to set it back to what it was?). Try going to an Internet cafe 
where the browser is a Russian-language version. If you don't read Russian, 
you are probably still able to just browse with it (based on remembering 
where the most commonly-used user interface elements are) - but 1) are you 
allowed to change the settings in an Internet cafe? 2) are you able to 
negotiate the dialogs in Russian to change the language settings? 3) if 
you're not allowed or able to change the settings (and put them back) are 
you prepared to suddenly see all sites you visit in Russian?

I agree with Jesper and would go one step further: language negotiation is 
a bad thing (and frequently highly irritating). If a website is available 
in several languages, then the user interface of the website must allow the 
visitor to choose whatever is most convenient. And since a site must offer 
a user interface to allow the user who may not be using *their* browser to 
switch languages, why use language negotiation at all?

BTW, websites that make you choose a country and then switch languages are 
also ittitating: a, American in the Netherlands would most likely prefer to 
read in English, regardless where she is.

Marjolein Katsma
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Received on Tuesday, 16 March 2004 06:29:36 UTC

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