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Re: Language negotiation a failure?

From: Asmus Freytag <asmusf@ix.netcom.com>
Date: Thu, 10 Jan 2013 03:51:11 -0800
Message-ID: <50EEAB2F.2090704@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 1/10/2013 3:00 AM, Leif Halvard Silli wrote:
> Asmus Freytag, Thu, 10 Jan 2013 02:13:34 -0800:
>> On 1/9/2013 4:19 AM, Leif Halvard Silli wrote:
>>> 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.
> Could you exemplify the negative side effect you experience?

I used to have languages set in the browser but gave that up a while 
ago. I don't have specific, recent examples.
>> At the same time, any content that is translated "into" those
>> languages (usually from an English source) is utterly of no interest
>> to me.
> Then you are a) an expert on that subject, even to the degree that you can discern what the original source is ...

I can easily see English patterns that survive translation, but it's 
more often that the subject matter or content itself makes the source 
rather obvious.
>> Language negotiation, even where it works, does not even begin to
>> address that issue.
> It could, if "original source" was included in the language tag (hasn't that now become possible - via some extension?), and in the browser’s language pref settings.

That would require all content to be correctly labeled. Another pipe 
dream :)

>> 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.
> I tried to guess if it was Swedish of German that was your mother
> tongue - or whatever. ;-)

A guess from my name?

I'm a native German speaker but fluent reader of Swedish (with a 
passionate aversion against Svenglish).
> But, sorry: have you tried to a) define what your preferred language is, and b) live with that preference to see how browsers behave - for a while?

I have done that in the past. I had to give it up, or rather, I was so 
annoyed with it that when I switched systems, I never bothered to make a 
language seleciton again

Now, when I search for German or Swedish terms, I get pointed to English 
documents for them. Before, I would get Swedish or German documents when 
looking for English terms.

> I.e. do you describe a real world problem? Take for instance Google.no, which I mentioned (and Google.com
> should work the same): The language negotiation effect can be
> overridden via cookies. So if you prefer the US English version of
> Google, you get that version, even if your browser prefers German, as long as you have made that choice in the Google settings/cookies.

Or, for some vendors, you can actually register on both a local and the 
global (US) site. If you do that, you can access both, no matter where 
you are, if you don't, they force you to the local site (even without 
language preference set, but as user of a US version of OS/Browser). 
(The latter example is a recent observation).
>> 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.
> It is not clear to me what consequences you draw from this - you are opposed to language negotiation?

I would love language negotiation, if it were easy to correctly 
configure my language preferences. In my case, they are not "static" or 
"absolute", but highly context dependent. I suspect that is the case for 
many people who are fully or nearly bi- or tri- lingual.

In contrast to people who have a clear first and decidedly weaker second 
language, perhaps followed by a "fall-back" language.
> In principle, language negotiation could help you operate in your "home base" language. E.g. I can go to the US and still get Google in Nynorsk.

As US English is a common default or fallback language it seems to not 
be as "marked" as some other choices. That's just  a hunch, but it would 
explain why it doesn't seem to have the same 'override' effect (at least 
as far as I remember from the times when I bothered with setting 

What I meant is the fact that the location-based service tends to route 
people to the local site, no matter what. This happens with nearly all 
services that have world-wide (and local) presence, so it's not enough 
to set a google cookie.

Cookie based sticky choice are in principle useful, but I've never 
successfully had any of them survive a system upgrade.
> I believe language negotiation is *very* useful for providing defaults.

It is very helpful for the situation where someone has a strong 
preference for a single primary language, and perhaps also where someone 
has a secondary language that's not English but which is common enough 
that some services offer it as translation.

Received on Thursday, 10 January 2013 11:51:45 UTC

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