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Re: Languages in Impress / ODF

From: Christophe Strobbe <christophe.strobbe@esat.kuleuven.be>
Date: Sat, 14 Aug 2010 00:12:16 +0200
Message-Id: <>
To: <w3c-wai-ig@w3.org>
Hi Bart,

Thanks for the info. (Maybe we should discuss this on another list.)
With regard to default/document language when exporting ODT from 
Writer to PDF: in my experience, the results have been somewhat 
inconsistent when you check the document properties in Adobe Acrobat Pro.
When you export an English document to PDF, the language in the 
document properties will be "English US" or "English UK", i.e. one of 
the values you can find in the drop-down list for the Language property.
However, when I export a Dutch or a French document to PDF, I get a 
language tag, such as nl-be, instead of just "Dutch" ("Dutch" is a 
value in the drop-down list, which contains no language tags).

It gets weirder when you use a language that is not in 
OpenOffice.org's list of "Western" languages (a list that funnily 
includes Mongolian, Swahili, Vietnamese and Georgian!): when you 
enable "Asian" language, set "Chinese (simplified" as default Asian 
language, set default Western language to "None", and create some 
text in Chinese, you can observe the following: as long as you enter 
Chinese characters, the language in the status bar says "Chinese 
(simplified)", but when you enter a numeral (not the Chinese 
characters for numerals but "Arabic" numerals), the text language for 
that numeral changes to whatever the default Western language is (in 
this case "None"); the same happens when you enter a Latin full stop 
(instead of a Chinese full stop). When I exported this document to 
PDF (after removing anything that was not purely Chinese), the 
language in the PDF document properties said "English US"! It's 
almost as if a non-Western language (in the OpenOffice.org sense, not 
in a linguistic sense) can never be the default language of a Writer document.

Best regards,


At 23:03 13/08/2010, Hanssens Bart wrote:
>Christophe Strobbe wrote:
> > One of the problems with OpenOffice.org Impress (and Calc) is that
> > you can't set the language of a presentation (or spreadsheet in case
> > of Calc) or spans of text inside it.
>I haven't checked yet what happens when the ODF file gets exported to
>other formats like PDF, .doc etc, but is actually possible to do that in
>Impress using ODF.... However, it is not straightforward and buggy :(
>This is due to a combination of how ODF sets languages, the UI of
>OOo Impress and some bugs:
>- ODF sets languages info on styles using fo:language, not directly on
>the content (so no xml:lang on text:p... I've suggested to change that
>in the next ODF specification after the upcoming ODF 1.2, so don't hold
>your breath: http://tools.oasis-open.org/issues/browse/OFFICE-2502)
>In addition, it is possible to set a "default" language, which is kept in the
>meta.xml file inside the ODF packages, instead of on styles... but not
>very useful in multi-language documents.
>- It's cleaner to do in Writer, because the UI has a "Styles" menu, but
>one can create (limited) styles in Calc and Impress as well, by using
>Format menu / Styles.
>- Not using styles, I can still do this in Impress 3.2.0 (ubuntu 10, 64bit):
>1) create new presentation, and start a new slide
>2) first bullet:
>* Hallo Bonjour
>3) select the word Hallo, right-click, select "Character" and set the
>Font language to Dutch
>4) repeat for Bonjour, but set the Font language to French
>Often Impress seems to "forget" the last language set when using
>several languages on the same line, so it may be necessary to resort
>to tricks like inserting a dummy whitespace and change that language,
>and/or just keep trying till it sticks...
>Have to investigate when exactly it happens, and if it is reproducible
>consistently across different versions and platforms.
>Note that most OOo packages provided by Linux distributions are not
>Oracle's stock OOo, but patched versions (Novell's Go-OO or similar).
>YMMV, although I don't think it matters in this case, but the products
>derived from OOo's codebase like Symphony, EuroOffice may yield
>different results...
>Best regards

Christophe Strobbe
K.U.Leuven - Dept. of Electrical Engineering - SCD
Research Group on Document Architectures
Kasteelpark Arenberg 10 bus 2442
B-3001 Leuven-Heverlee
tel: +32 16 32 85 51
"Better products and services through end-user empowerment" 
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I haven't.
Received on Friday, 13 August 2010 22:12:49 UTC

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