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Re: bilingual websites

From: Thierry Sourbier <webmaster@i18ngurus.com>
Date: Tue, 30 Oct 2001 09:32:08 +0100
Message-ID: <006e01c1611d$5d4c1e60$e032fea9@dell400>
To: <www-international@w3.org>
> People in Norway, with Norwegian versions of these programs will have
language set to
> Norwegian. Generally, 'Accept-Language' is very often set.

This is true, yet I would note that browsers are not available for all
locales (e.g. IE 6 is not available for Welsh). Therefore in the present
case the ACCEPT_LANGUAGE will be useless in most of the cases.

For those curious to see the HTTP_ACCEPT_LANGUAGE used by their browser, you
can go to:
http://www.i18ngurus.com/cgi-bin/TestLang.pl?

Generaly 3 combined techniques are used to determine the language of a page:

1. The URL, a direct request to http://www.gwynedd.gov.uk/index.cymraeg.htm
or http://www.gwynedd.gov.uk/index.english.htm should bring up the Welsh or
English page.

2. If no specific language is requested (e.g. request for
http://www.gwynedd.gov.uk/) verify if the user has alrady visited the site
and made a language selection (via a cookie) and serve that page. That
avoids the user selecting over and over his/her language.

3. If no cookie was set verify the HTTP_ACCEPT_LANGUAGE if it says Welsh
then serve the Welsh page otherwise serve the current language selection
page (many Welsh speaking person might be using English browser so we can't
determine much if the preference says English). When the user select a
language set a cookie to remember his/her selection. That takes care of the
user first visit.

In all cases in the main page have a menu to allow switching languages none
of these techniques are 100% reliable. I do use this scheme with my
personnal site (www.sourbier.com) to select between French and English. You
can implement this with IIS (or any other web server) but you'll have to
program a little bit.

If anyone has any improvement using this techniques, please speak up I'm
interested too :).

Also as Carl pointed out I would suggest not using name but the directory
structure to separate the various locale. E.g. use
http://www.gwynedd.gov.uk/english/index.htm instead of
http://www.gwynedd.gov.uk/index.english.htm. That should make the
translation process easier as links won't have to be updated each time.

Regards,
Thierry

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Received on Tuesday, 30 October 2001 03:28:55 GMT

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