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

From: David Woolley <david@djwhome.demon.co.uk>
Date: Sun, 21 Mar 2004 18:48:38 +0000 (GMT)
Message-Id: <200403211848.i2LImcw05180@djwhome.demon.co.uk>
To: w3c-wai-ig@w3.org

>  This could only be done efficiently when all browsers
> have a visible and accessible option for isers to

All browsers that I know of have a facility for not
only specifying the preferred language, but also specifying
any number of fallback languages.  The facility is, in
general, more visible and accessible than most acessibility
options.  The only common weakness is not being able to provide
a numeric score for each choice.

> change their browsing language on the Agent. I would

User agents have multiple browsing languages.  Normally these
are per user properties, rather than system global.

> imaging this to be done using different requests for
> Uni-code. 


>  For example, My Girlfriends mother is far from
> web'savy'. She is an in experienced user who ventures
> forth on to the web only in the hour of need. Her
> first language is Mandarin but she speaks fluent
> English and browses with Internet Explorer v.6. If She

Yaoshi ta shi zhongguo laide, ta de wangwen shi "zh_cn"; yaoshi ta shi
taiwan laide ta de wangwen shi "zh_tw".  Ta ying gai ye jia "en".

(I've not run over that with a dictionary, etc., to get it right, but
what I'm trying to say is that if she is from the PRC, she should specify
zh_cn as her web browsing language and if she is from Taiwan, she should
specify zh_tw.  She should also add English (as second choice)).

> had any idea that a page were available in her first
> language she would prefer for it to be displayed that
> way but as she has no knowledge of this, she makes do.

What she needs to do is to go to Tools | Internet Options (as one 
has to for accessibility options as well), select Languages, and then
Add and select zh_cn (by its friendly name), or simply key it in in the
other choice, then use the up and down buttons to put it above the
default English (US) (en_us) entry.  It's essentially no more difficult
than setting one of the accessibility options and less difficult than
configuring IE to comply with frequent Microsoft security guidance
to temporarily disable scripting, although most configuration on
IE is unsuitable for the computer unsavvy.

I assume that she has already installed Chinese fonts and input methods
(details depend on whether the system is XP or the Windows 95 family)
which she will need even without negotiation.

She can also configure IE6, at least for the Windows 95 family, to 
present menus and a significant part of the dialogues in Chinese.
In theory Windows XP is even better, but there may be some marketing
restrictions in the Home edition and you will need the real install
media [1].  I can provide more information off list.

If she is using a Windows 95 family OS and used it more than about a 
year ago, either she never used Windows Update, in which case she
has much worse problems (security) than not having the right language,
as every time you used Windows Update the first page contained an
article about language negotiation; this is still present on the
NT4 version of Windows Update.

>  Until the actual User Agents compensate for A
> multitude of language, it is unfair for designers to

But they already do.

> decide a users preference based on circumstantial
> evidence of a specific User Agent.

The decision is based on the multiple language choices configured by
the user.  A particular regional packaging of a browser only changes
the defaults.  It may even be the case that this is settable in the
ISP branding of IE6, so the default may depend on from whom you buy
your internet connection.

The reason I say no to Unicode above is that one select the language
not the encoding.  Chinese is a special case in that zh_cn conventionally
implies the use of the PRC standard GB2312 character coding, although
more modern pages might just use Unicode UTF-8, with simplified Chinese
fonts, and zh_tw conventially selects a code called big5 (again with
UTF-8 as a possible alternative) with traditional character fonts.

(Although I've not been able to confirm this, I believe that Windows
XP Home may be a complete multilingual system with only the default
configuration varying between Western and East Asian versions, although
it is possible that some components are specific to a market.)

[1] As you appear to be in the UK, as far as I know, none of 
Tiny, Dixons or PC World will supply the original media by default,
and Tiny don't seem to have such an option on their web site.  If
you want to have the full power of the system, you must pay extra,
otherwise what you get is not Windows XP, but a customised computing
environment optimised for English speaking but non-computer
literate people and designed to be supported by simply being
reloaded from the supplied CD, wiping out any user configuration.
Received on Sunday, 21 March 2004 13:50:24 UTC

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