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October 28, 2006



In Oliver's blog that you link, I noticed the "This Space for Rent" block is in English.

Maybe another question to poll is "Does it bother or concern you that English appears to be the native tongue for the COMMERCIAL Internet."

Ed, it also starts at the personal level when people are left out because they do not understand the langauge the tool is in - and let's face it, 95% of all tools are english only.

This is one of the things Microsoft has done superbly over the last years: Working localisation in all products and Google is not that far behind, adding geotargetting to the game.

What the commercial internet does not understand though is the fact how much money can be made OUTSIDE the pure english speaking users. Once they get this, they may actually go and work on some better translators. Too bad porn is basically just images and nonsense sound which does not need no translation, otherwise we would have had a working babelfish 5 years ago ...

Well, in a way my brain works bilingual, although I leanred English as a third language only (I lost most of my French, as OK to be friendly and talk to Loic for two sentences on the phone and then...). Well ended up studying English and most films I watch and most reading I do is in English.

In the beginning I wanted to blog in both english and German. I have set a seperate blo up for English now. I should blog more in English. Or maybe not ;) (Some say if you blog in English there is also more competition...)

The 'this space for rent' e.g. is in a way ironic 'zu vermieten' would not express what I mean: That only that place is "for rent" - it's somewhhat making fun of the commercial aspect. I also use English if I need to save space/time. English words are usually shorter that German ones ('gadget' instead of 'Technikspielzeug'). The tagged stuff is mostly English, so it is actually easier and saves brain power to tag it in English ;). although I use delicious as an 'internal' tool that talks only to myself (I use it for blogging workflow (2blog), to collect stuff for presennations and my own KM).
I even have poems in German that have English titles. Intentionally. It's always the same guys who critisize that.

But then:

What would a German scholar in 1550 have said if you had asked him whether it bothers him that als scholarly stuff is in Latin. I can'r read Spanish, durch and Italian, Danish and Chinese, Japanese ans Kisuaheli. But I can read English and some French.

And I guess they taught it to us cause those two countries at some point ruled half the globe (if you combined the area?).

Languages have always incorpoorated bits of other languages; I see no problem with that. It has always happened and will always happen. Keeping you language 'clean' is totally futile. (Hello, France! ;))

So: English is the new Latin. (and have i mentioned that 3d is the new WWW? ;) )

And: Thanks ;)

Rick the question of whether or not to provide a website or blog in a variety of languages is a difficult one.

Just recently I finished reworking the English text on a large number of commercial sites for a Russian company. They had tried to do the text themselves and overall had made an absolute shambles of it on almost every site.

Instead of having text that would sell the product they had words that were common in the 1920s and 1930s, words that people in their late teens and twenties would not understand at all.

It was so bad I even wondered if they had used Babelfish to do the translations; the results were terrible. As I worked my way through all those sites my reaction changed from laughter to despair to anger that anyone could be so dumb as to think they could translate anything into modern English unless they were a native English speaker.

But those were only commercial sites. Blogs, as you know, are much more personal sites and the level of English comes down to a much more personal level as the bloggers seek to express themselves in their own words.

Translating that into another language would be a nightmare unless the blogger was a very fluent speaker of that other language. To employ a translator to carry out the work would ultimately mean that those subtle nuances that help make a blog so personal would be lost.

Instead of being something personal the blog would become a cardboard cutout of the original - thin, unbending, impersonal and ultimately not worth reading.

In my humble opinion, if you were to apply a commercial filter to b5 or any other blog network and require them to have their blogs translated into another language you would be wasting their money.

What works in the world of business sites is not going to work for blogs.


Thank you for taking the time to write a well thought out comment. I agree, it is not about translating the blogs, rather creating more of a global community around those blogs in native languages. I know there is somebody living in Pisa, Italy or Tallin, Estonia who knows the best place to have [fill in the blank]. There is a reasonable change that person is blogging in native language so the really interesting challenge (at least to me) is getting that opinion/blog out in the world without forcing a language issue onto the blogger.

It's Saturday and raining, what can I say.

Again, thank you very much for the comments.


Going Global: Adventures in Web globalization and all that it entails

"Going Global focuses on the risks and rewards of expanding into new geographic and cultural markets, from Web globalization to international marketing to global usability."

Rick - it certainly would be a challenge - not an insurmountable one - but certainly something that would have some issues that blog networks have never faced before.

On the other hand I can fuzzily see some distinct advantages that should make it a very attractive proposition.

I know I probably come across sometimes as an evangelist for b5 - when in fact I have no connection with them whatsovever (apart from occasionally moving
Darren out of his comfort zone :) )- but I think b5 are perhaps the best positioned of all networks to make those advantages work.

At least they're not as geo-centric (if there is such a word) as the other networks. We Australians tend to think far more globally than some other people do.

It's Sunday morning in sub-tropical Queensland and I should be working but looking at challenges is far more interesting :)

hrmpf. manual trackback then:

Manual trackback for us too:

Not sure why this is happening. I've asked the typepad folks for some help.

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