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Re: Designing a Global Site

From: Jon Babcock <jon@kanji.com>
Date: Thu, 18 Apr 2002 08:58:32 -0600
Message-ID: <3CBEDF18.4070908@kanji.com>
To: Eric Jarvis <webmaster@Befrienders.org>
CC: www-international@w3.org
Thanks Eric for taking the time to write down your advice for 
designing a global site. Excellent.

This may be a little OT, but there was one point that is so 
totally at odds with my own experience that I couldn't let it 

 > The most important things we've learned. Pay for a top class
 > translation by a native speaker of the language.

Over the years I have read literally dozens of messages on the 
Japan Association of Translators mailing list and on the Honyaku 
mailing list for JE/EJ translators to the effect that it is 
usually a bad idea to translate into your non-native language. 
Everyone has to do it at times and if the translation is for 
private information only and will not be asked to stand on its 
own, it is not a sin. But it is highly frowned on where 
professional results are the goal. There are translators who can 
do it, but they are rare. I've been told that other large 
professional translators organizations also make this point.

I am wondering Eric, is your advice here to seek out those few 
who have this unusual ability? In your experience, have you 
found native-language-into-second (or third) language 
translations to be superior to second-language-into-native 
language translations? I would be very interested to learn more 
about this.



a Chinese-to-English and Japanese-to-English translator who has 
  had to rewrite, retranslate, and reject more bad translations 
written into the translator's second language than he likes to 

Eric Jarvis wrote:
> Robert
> I've been developing a global site for the last two years, and whilst
> I've found some very useful specific resources, there doesn't seem to be
> a good comprehensive overview anywhere. I've starting preparing content
> for one, but it will be a while before it's ready.
> Flags are a definite non-starter, but the alternatives are all problems
> too. Ideally one wants the name of the language in the language. Very
> easy to do if they all use Latin characters, a problem if they don't.
> Whilst one can represent them all in Unicode that is only useful if the
> end user has a Unicode capable browser. This is not yet guaranteed to be
> the case. Using gifs is cumbersome and no use to somebody using a text
> only or text to speech browser.
> On the other hand, language navigation is a secondary means of
> delivering the correct language. You can use content negotiation to
> supply the correct version of the site. However this leads to problems
> if the visitor is using a browser set to a language other than their own
> (which commonly occurs in our organisation, many visitors use the
> computers in our central office) or if they are attempting to work
> multilingually. At the moment we are relying on the fact that the vast
> majority of visitors will arrive via a link in a language they can use,
> or from a search done in their language of choice. We back this up by
> plain text links in Latin characters, and will soon add to each page a
> link to a Unicode AND gif language interchange page.
> I have yet to hear of anyone who has a completely satisfactory method of
> dealing with multiple languages.
> The most important things we've learned. Pay for a top class translation
> by a native speaker of the language. Get the translation checked
> independently by another native speaker who also knows the subject
> matter. Think carefully about what you will need translated, I had to
> get the word "Arabic" in Arabic done separately since it wasn't in the
> original translation (done before I started I hasten to add). Colour
> code the translation so that it matches the web mark up. Then you can
> keep the expertise focused where it belongs. The translator translates,
> the web designers web set it. All the translator needs to know is keep
> things the same colour, all the designer needs to know is that the big
> red text is the title, etc. Using that system I'm currently working in
> 15 languages of which I speak only 3, and 5 of which I can't even
> vaguely follow the alphabet.
> The best place I've found to cover these issues, apart from this mailing
> list, is www.webmasterworld.com. Which is very much based on dealing
> with site promotion and search engines, but which has a wide ranging
> international user base who have a lot of technical expertise and
> experience.
> Other sites I've found particularly useful.
> http://ppewww.ph.gla.ac.uk/~flavell/charset/internat.html
> http://www.ethnologue.com
> http://www.worldlanguage.com/
> I hope this helps a little.
> Cheers
> eric jarvis
> webmaster@befrienders.org
> www.suicide-helplines.org
>>-----Original Message-----
>>From:	Marlin, Robert [SMTP:Robert.Marlin@qwest.com]
>>Sent:	Thursday, April 18, 2002 7:46 AM
>>To:	www-international@w3.org
>>Subject:	Designing a Global Site
>>Importance:	High
>>My name is Robert Marlin and I am an Interactive Information Architect
>>Qwest Global Services.
>>I was assigned a project to research common rules/guidelines for
>>truly international sites because many of our large clients are 
>>establishing a global presence and want to design them properly.
>>I have checked many sites and have come up empty. Is that because
>>there are 
>>no real guidelines set down yet? Or are they just hard to find.
>>For example, I see many sites use flags to represent languages. I
>>feel that is appropriate, since how do you represent Spanish (Spain's
>>Mexico's flag, Puerto Rico's flag, Brazil, etc.?) Whichever flag you 
>>choose, you alienate the others. Flags are great for representing
>>(office locations, etc.) - but not languages.
>>What things are offensive to other cultures around the world - and
>>be avoided?
>>Even basic questions like -
>>Do people in other countries prefer pulldowns? Do they prefer nav
>>or do they use the search first?
>>Any information you can point me to (any source that would list issues
>>solutions or "things to think about" when designing International
>>etc.) would be GREATLY appreciated.
>>Thanks for your time.
>>Robert Marlin
>>Experience Architect
>>Qwest Global Services
>>425 Technology Drive
>>Malvern, PA 19355

Jon Babcock <jon@kanji.com>
Received on Thursday, 18 April 2002 10:58:50 UTC

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