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Re: Language negotiation a failure?

From: Asmus Freytag <asmusf@ix.netcom.com>
Date: Thu, 10 Jan 2013 10:03:44 -0800
Message-ID: <50EF0280.5040208@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 4:39 AM, Leif Halvard Silli wrote:
> Asmus Freytag, Thu, 10 Jan 2013 03:51:11 -0800:
>> .... (with a passionate aversion against Svenglish).
> So no 'websajt' and 'mejla' on you then. ;-)

Those are among the more acceptable terms... :)
>>> 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
> So the annoyance was linked to search engines?

No, not limited.
>> 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.
> You mean, when you use  Bing or Google?
When I use the search
> Or when you click on the
> documents they provide?

And when I type in a URL for a website (that is not just when I click on 
some link in a search - those are often highly qualified names down some 
tree where there's no longer a choice of languages).
> I wonder if you talk about something else - or side use, of the language preference tags. What I have in mind is the situation when you click on URL-A and get language y instead of the default language x.

Right. That scenario and also where you click on a Swedish word (with 
accent) and get only English sites returned in the top positions.
>>> 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).
> (I must travel more, to check this out …)

Do, Travel broadens the mind (among other things).
>>>> 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.
> I guess my expectations regarding what language based content
> negotiation can achieve are technically more modest.  But (and sorry for mentioning FF again) Firefox allows you to, very easily, use several user profiles. You could create one user profile for each context. But otherwise it sounds like a good thing if vendors could allow us to define profiles of our own user profiles …

Too finicky.

I switch constantly between tasks, from reviewing Swedish to English 
translations, fact checking, locating technical information, hunting 
down standards, plus all the other stuff that every web user does (and I 
purchase items from a variety of countries).

Remembering which profile to use would be a pain.
>>> 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 preferences).
>> 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.
> That's why browsers’ language settings are useful, I believe. They
> don't go away when the cookie is deleted.

They also don't tend to survive equipment updates.
>>> 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.
> Let me see … My "primary" language is Norwegian Nynorsk.  My secondary
> language is Norwegian Bokmål - and e.g. Google Translate offers
> translation to Bokmål (but not Nynorsk). And, thirdly, I have never had
> trouble getting stuff in English — that happens "by itself". So may be
> I fall into that category - I don't know.

English is a common fallback and vendors treat it that way. Lot's of 
things that work in customizing towards "smaller" or more "'localized" 
languages don't work as well in reverse.

I would need English as "primary", except I would like "primary" German 
and Swedish for sites with German and Swedish content, and then I would 
like English again as "fallback" for everything else, e.g. I would like 
to be directed to the English translation of Asian pages, if they exist 
(with an option to even there get to the local language version with a 
simple click - if only to check that the translation is complete enough 
for my purpose and not "simplified'. "stale" or "dumbed down".

It's a tall order but something that I'm sure would describe the needs 
of a considerable minority of users worldwide (more than the population 
of certain smaller countries) :)

> (But it is a bit hard to follow the scenarios you describe.)
> Linking back to Henri’s Wiki article: Finnish is is native tongue, I
> believe. But Finland also have native Swedish speakers as a minority. I
> suppose that those users - if the know how it works, would be be more
> keen on language negotiation as this allows them to get things in
> Swedish whenever it is available. Thus, they avoid having to click a
> button to get the information in Swedish.
Received on Thursday, 10 January 2013 18:04:14 UTC

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