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Re: Language negotiation a failure?

From: Asmus Freytag <asmusf@ix.netcom.com>
Date: Thu, 10 Jan 2013 02:13:34 -0800
Message-ID: <50EE944E.3050503@ix.netcom.com>
To: Leif Halvard Silli <xn--mlform-iua@xn--mlform-iua.no>
CC: John Cowan <cowan@mercury.ccil.org>, Gunnar Bittersmann <gunnar@bittersmann.de>, www-international@w3.org
On 1/9/2013 4:19 AM, Leif Halvard Silli wrote:
> Asmus Freytag, Wed, 09 Jan 2013 02:45:38 -0800:
>> On 1/7/2013 9:23 AM, John Cowan wrote:
>>> In Henri's case, given the choice of Finnish or English (which we will
>>> say he reads equally well), he probably prefers Finnish on web servers
>>> *in Finland*, but English on web servers elsewhere.  Current browser
>>> dialog boxes do not accommodate such complicated preference notions.
>> It's not that uncommon a situation. In my case, I have two languages
>> that I would prefer over English, whenever they are the *main*
>> language of the content provider (their location would be a proxy for
>> that, but not necessarily  a perfect one). For all other cases,
>> English. And I would like search providers to give me "native"
>> results in those two languages, whenever the search term is in those
>> languages. I know, pipe dream.
> Google offers content-negotiation between Nynorsk and Bokmål - at least
> for www.google.no. This might be a result of my requests for that back
> in time. Thus, if you delete cookies, you will get the page in Nynorsk,
> if you browser prefers it.
>
> It is indeed true (as Henri says) that the Nynorsk version offers fewer
> features than the Bokmål version. But there is a link to the Bokmål
> version at www.google.no, so that is simple to "fix".
>
> When it comes to Firefox, which is what Henri works on, then it comes
> in localized builds, unlike e.g. Safari, which contains all the
> localizations in the same build. Thus, for Firefox, there is *nothing*
> to configure since the Nynorsk version of Firefox comes with preference
> for Nynorsk preconfigured. SO in my view, Firefox has a very good story
> in this regard.
>
> I have no doubt that Henri is serious and probably wants to do away
> with content language negotiation. My own perspective is that we should
> move in the opposite direction.
I find all this stuff about localized versions confusing. I'm happy with 
US English (which happens to have the correct "localization" for my 
purposes) but there are a few languages for which that leads me to 
translated content when I strongly prefer "native" content in those 
languages.

At the same time, any content that is translated "into" those languages 
(usually from an English source) is utterly of no interest to me.

Language negotiation, even where it works, does not even begin to 
address that issue.

And, it is riddled with side effects. Just because I am fluent in some 
other language doesn't mean that I would like to be shuffled off to the 
localized pages (and local subsite) of some global website by default. I 
might want to occasionally visit such pages, but only when I'm 
interested in some service (like media in that language) that I can't 
access from the US site.

Location based defaults work equally poorly, because I'm more likely to 
want to conduct business via my "home base" than locally, especially 
when traveling. That's why I think the expectation of being able to get 
automatic configuration to work for any multilingual or multi-location 
users is a pipe dream - and sites that don't supply easy overrides of 
their automatic choices are a pain to use.
Received on Thursday, 10 January 2013 10:14:10 GMT

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