Two Panel Submissions for SXSW Interactive (Language Issues) [en]

[fr] Il y a deux propositions portant mon nom pour SXSW -- merci de voter pour elles! Sinon, dates et description de mes prochaines conférences.

Je cherche aussi un "speaking agent" -- faites-moi signe si vous en connaissez un qui travaille avec des personnes basées en Europe. Merci d'avance!

Oh. My. God.

I just realised, [reading Brian’s post](http://www.brianoberkirch.com/2007/09/13/gum-flapping-youve-been-warned/), that I haven’t blogged about the two panel proposals I’m on for [SXSW Interactive next March in Austin, Texas](http://2008.sxsw.com/interactive/):

* [Opening the Web to Linguistic Realities](http://panelpicker.sxsw.com/ideas/view/544) (co-presenting with [Stephanie Troeth](http://www.webstandards.org/about/members/steph/))
** A basic assumption on the Internet is that everybody speaks and understands one language at a time. Globalism and immigration has created an even more prominent trend of multilingualism amongst the world’s inhabitants. How can the WWW and its core technologies keep up? How can we shift our biased perspectives?
* [Lost in Translation? Top Website Internationalization Lessons](http://panelpicker.sxsw.com/ideas/view/349) (panel I’m moderating)
** How do you publish software or content for a global audience? Our expert panel discusses lessons learned translating and localizing. Leaders from Flickr, Google, iStockphoto and the Worldwide Lexicon will tackle various marketing issues; how to translate the ‘feel’ of a Web site, and; best practices for software and content translation.

As you can see, both proposals revolve around the use of languages on the internet — and as you know, it’s one of the topics [I care about](http://climbtothestars.org/archives/2007/06/22/what-do-you-care-about/) nowadays. I’ve spoken on this topic a few times now ([BlogCamp ZH](http://climbtothestars.org/archives/2007/03/25/blogcamp-multilingual-blogging-session/), [Reboot9](http://www.reboot.dk/artefact-773-en.html), [Google Tech Talks](http://climbtothestars.org/archives/2007/07/10/talk-languages-on-the-internet-at-google-tomorrow/)) and I’m looking forward to taking things further with these new chances to toss these problems around in public.

80 or so of the [700+ panel submissions to SXSW Interactive](http://panelpicker.sxsw.com/) will be selected by public voting and actually take place. That’s not a lot (roughly 10%). So **please** go and vote for these two panels (“Amazing” will do) so that they make it into the selection. I really want to go to Austin! (Can you hear me begging? OK, over. But please vote.)

Other than that, I have a few more talks planned in the coming months:

– a [talk on corporate blogging](http://climbtothestars.org/archives/2007/08/11/corporate-blogging-talk-draft/) in Zürich ([MScom alumni Jour Fixe](http://www.mscomalumni.ch/news/events_full.html?events_id=47), private event) [Sept. 24]
– future jobs of the web (evolution of the “webmaster”) at [BlogCamp Lausanne](http://barcamp.ch/BarCampLausanne#Proposed_Sessions), and probably a second session either on languages or [teenagers online](http://climbtothestars.org/archives/2007/09/09/informations-et-prevention-adolescents-et-internet/) [Sept. 29]
– a talk on being a blogging/social media consultant in Europe for [BlogOpen](http://blogopen.eu/) in Novi Sad, Serbia [Oct. Nov. 10]
– [Multilinguisme web et problèmes associés](http://2007.paris-web.fr/Vendredi-16-novembre#booth) in Paris for Paris Web [Nov. 16]

My [proposal for Web 2.0 Expo](http://climbtothestars.org/archives/2007/08/09/another-multilingual-talk-proposal-web-20-expo-berlin/) didn’t make it, it seems, but I’ll probably submit something for [Web2Open](http://web2open.eu/).

And, as [you might have heard](http://twitter.com/stephtara/statuses/273739252), **I’m looking for a speaking agent**. If you can recommend any good speaking agents who work with European-based speakers, please drop me a line or a comment.

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Most People Are Multilingual [en]

[fr] Une clarification de ce que j'entends par "la plupart des gens sont multilingues". Multilingues au sens large.

In [a comment to my last post](http://climbtothestars.org/archives/2007/08/09/another-multilingual-talk-proposal-web-20-expo-berlin/#comment-243962), [Marie-Aude](http://www.oasisdemezgarne.com/lgfr/blog/) says I’m being a bit optimistic by stating that “most people are multilingual”. I’d like to clarify what I mean by that.

The “most people are multilingual” thing is not from me. I’ve seen it mentioned in varied settings, though I still need to find systematic studies to back it up (let me know if you have any handy).

It all depends how you define “multilingual”. If you define it in a broad sense (ie, school-level passive understanding of a language counts), then a little thinking shows it’s not that “optimistic”. Here is what would make somebody multilingual:

– immigration, of course
– learning a foreign language at school
– living in a country with different linguistic groups.

Some examples:

– in India, many people are fluent in their mother tongue, and to some extent in one of the countries official languages: Hindi or English
– in the US, think about the huge immigrant population; the whole country was built upon immigration, come to think of it; in the bus in San Francisco, I often heard more foreign languages than English
– again in the US (because the English-speaking world is seen as a big “monolingual” block), think of the increasingly important hispanic/latino population (people who will often have knowledge of both English and Spanish)
– in most European countries, people learn at least one foreign language in school — even if it’s not used, most people retain at least some passive knowledge of it; I’m not sure about Asia, Africa, Southern America, Australia: does anybody know?

So, I don’t think it’s that optimistic to say most people are multilingual. To say that most people are “perfectly multilingual”, of course, is way off the mark. But most people understand more than one language, at least to some extent.

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Another Multilingual Talk Proposal (Web 2.0 Expo, Berlin) [en]

[fr] Une proposition de conférence sur le multilinguisme et internet, pour Web 2.0 Expo à Berlin en novembre. J'ai un peu laissé passer le délai, mais advienne que pourra.

I’m sending in a (very late) talk proposal for [Web 2.0 Expo, Berlin](http://berlin.web2expo.com/). Here’s the description I sent them, for my personal records, mainly. We’ll see what happens.

**Title:** Waiting for the Babel Fish: Languages and Multilingualism

**Short description:** Languages are the new borders of our connected world, but our tools make them stronger than they have to be. Most people are multilingual: how can language-smart apps help us out of the Internet’s monolingual silos?

**Full description:** The Internet is the ideal space to reach out to a wide public. However, if geographical boundaries are non-existent, linguistic barriers are all the more present.

Localization is a first step. But though most people and organizations recognize the necessity of catering to non-English audiences, some assumptions on how to do it need to be challenged. For example, countries and languages do not overlap well. Also, most people do not live and function in exclusively one language.

However necessary, localization in itself is not sufficient in getting different linguistic communities to emerge from their silos and mingle.

Multilingual spaces and tools will weaken the linguistic borders by allowing multilingual people of varying proficiency to act as bridges between communities otherwise incapable of communicating.

Till today, unfortunately, our tools are primarily monolingual even when correctly localized, and multilingualism is perceived as an exception or a fringe case which is not worthy of much attention — when in fact, most human beings are multilingual to some extent.

**Previous incarnations:** for the record again, previous incarnations of this talks (or, to put it slightly differently, other talks I’ve given about this topic):

– [BlogCamp ZH](http://climbtothestars.org/archives/2007/03/25/blogcamp-multilingual-blogging-session/), March 2007 (with video)
– [Reboot9](http://www.reboot.dk/artefact-773-en.html), June 2007
– [Google](http://climbtothestars.org/archives/2007/07/10/talk-languages-on-the-internet-at-google-tomorrow/), July 2007 (with video)

**Speaker blurb:** Stephanie Booth lives in Lausanne, Switzerland and Climb to the Stars,
The Internet. After a degree in Indian religions and culture, she has
been a project manager, a middle-school teacher, and is now an
independant web consultant. More importantly, she’s been bilingual
since she could talk, has lived in a multilingual country since she
was two, and been an active web citizen in both English and French
since she landed online in the late 90s.

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Videos, Videos! And Kittens! [en]

[fr] Un nouvel épisode vidéo de Fresh Lime Soda, le podcast que je co-anime avec Suw Charman. On y parle de ce qu'on fait dans la vie, et surtout, de comment on le définit (mal!)

Aussi, vidéos de la Gay Pride ici à San Francisco, et de chatons. Oui, des chatons. Tout mimis.

Although [there is just one week left for me here](http://twitter.com/stephtara/statuses/151809632), I’m still [in San Francisco](http://flickr.com/photos/bunny/sets/72157600394601924/). When [Suw](http://chocnvodka.blogware.com) was here a few weeks ago, we seized the occasion to record another (video!) episode of [Fresh Lime Soda](http://freshlimesoda.net). Our conversation takes [the episode I mention in my “What do you care about?” post](http://climbtothestars.org/archives/2007/06/22/what-do-you-care-about/) and goes on from there, to examine how we define ourselves in our professional field, and a bunch of other things. Read [the shownotes on the original post](http://freshlimesoda.net/2007/07/16/fresh-lime-soda-episode-7-in-san-francisco/) and enjoy the video!

(If the feed/RSS reader doesn’t take care of it for you, you can [download the video from Viddler.com directly](http://www.viddler.com/show_movie!orgFile.action?movieToken=5bc3aa08).)

While we’re on the subject of videos, I’ve uploaded quite a few to [my Viddler account](http://viddler.com/steph) recently. (Oh, and yes, I still have a post in my drafts somewhere… a review of viddler, which I really like despite its bugs and greenness.) There are videos of [the Gay Pride](http://www.viddler.com/explore/steph/tags/sfpride) (and photos of the [Dyke March](http://flickr.com/photos/bunny/sets/72157600459417123/) and [Parade](http://flickr.com/photos/bunny/sets/72157600487653731/) of course!), the [iPhone Launch here in SF](http://www.viddler.com/explore/steph/tags/iphonelaunch), but most importantly, [really cute kittens playing](http://www.viddler.com/explore/steph/tags/blukittens). If you like kittens, you’ll enjoy the 5 minutes you’ll spend watching the videos. There are obviously [kitten photographs too](http://flickr.com/photos/bunny/sets/72157600783421840/):

Blu's Kittens 7

Blu's Kittens 29

Blu's Kittens 24

And for those who missed the update, [the post announcing my talk at Google (on languages and the internet)](http://climbtothestars.org/archives/2007/07/10/talk-languages-on-the-internet-at-google-tomorrow/) now contains a link to [the video of my talk](http://video.google.com/videoplay?docid=-5004419583730327409&hl=en-GB), the (http://www.slideshare.net/sbooth/waiting-for-the-babel-fish), and my [handwritten presentation notes](http://www.flickr.com/photos/bunny/801234849/) (not that they’ll help you much…). All that!

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Multilingual Interviews [en]

[fr] Deux interviews que j'ai donnés récemment au sujet de la conférence que je donne à Copenhague sur le multilinguisme sur internet la semaine prochaine.

I was interviewed twice during the last week about the [multilingual stuff](http://climbtothestars.org/archives/2007/03/25/blogcamp-multilingual-blogging-session/) I’m going to be [talking about this week at reboot9](http://www.reboot.dk/artefact-773-en.html):

– by [Suw Charman](http://chocnvodka.blogware.com/) for [Conversation Hub](http://conversationhub.com/): [The Multilingual Web](http://conversationhub.com/2007/05/22/the-multilingual-web/) (video)
– by [Nicole Simon](http://crueltobekind.org/) as part of her [reboot9 pre-conference series](http://bloxpert.com/Kickoff-of-the-reboot-9-interview-series-81): [Reboot 9: Stephanie Booth](http://crueltobekind.org/archive/2007-05-24/reboot_9_stephanie_booth) (audio)

Enjoy, and hope to see you at reboot!

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BlogCamp: Multilingual Blogging Session [en]

[fr] Mise par écrit des notes de préparation pour ma présentation hier au sujet des blogs multilingues, lors du BlogCamp à Zürich. En deux mots: il faut des gens pour faire le pont entre les îles linguistiques sur internet, et la façon dont sont conçus nos outils n'encourage pas les gens à être multingues sur leurs blogs. C'est pourtant à mon avis la formule la plus viable pour avoir de bons ponts.

I presented a session about multilingual blogging at [BlogCamp](http://blogcamp.ch) yesterday in Zürich. Thanks to all of you who attended (particularly as I was [competing](http://flickr.com/photos/bunny/432373547/) with [Xing’s Nicolas Berg](https://www.xing.com/profile/Nicolas_Berg/)!) and wrote about the session ([Bruno](http://www.lunchoverip.com/2007/03/a_day_at_the_bl.html) of course, [Sarah](http://politikblogs.wordpress.com/2007/03/24/live-blogging-from-blogcampswitzerland/), [Sandra](http://www.chiperoni.org/wordpress/archives/2007/03/24/blogcampswitzerland/), [Maira](http://vitaminab.org/cms/en/multilingual-blog), [Jens-Rainer](http://www.blogwiese.ch/archives/556), [Waltraut](http://siebensachen.twoday.net/stories/3478815/), [Jokerine](http://www.hdreioplus.de/wordpress/?p=150), [Antoine](http://gedankenblitze.ch/?p=13)*…let me know if I need to add you here*), and to [Greg](http://cascades2alps.blogspot.com/) in particular for [filming the session](http://youtu.be/gLf_EquogUc).

Although I’m rather used to [giving talks](http://stephanie-booth.com/conferences), this was the first time my audience was a bloggy-geek crowd, so it was particularly exciting for me. I prepared my talk on the train between Lausanne and Bern, and unfortunately prepared way too many notes (I’m used to talking with next to no notes), so I got a bit confused at times during my presentation — and, of course, left stuff out. Here’s a rough transcript of [what I prepared](http://flickr.com/photos/bunny/433344448/). Oh, and don’t forget to look at this [photo of my cat Bagha](http://flickr.com/photos/bunny/349150808/) from time to time to get the whole “experience”.

Steph giving her talk.
Photo by Henning

**Talk notes**

In the beginning there was the Big Bang. Space, time and matter came to exist. (Physicists in the audience, please forgive me for this.) We know it might end with a Big Crunch. Internet looks a bit like this Big Crunch, because it gets rid of space. With the right link to click on, the right URI, anybody can be anywhere at any time.

However, we often perceive the internet as a kind of “space”, or at least as having some sort of organisation or structure that we tend to translate into spatial terms or sensations. One way in which the internet is organised (and if you’re a good 2.0 person you’re acutely aware of this) is **communities**.

Communities are like gravity wells: people tend to stay “in” them. It very easy to be completely oblivious to what is going on in other communities. Barrier to entry: culture. Language is part of a culture, and even worse, it’s the vehicle for communication.

What is going on in the other languageospheres? I know almost nothing of what’s going on in the German-speaking blogosphere. The borders on the internet are linguistic. How do we travel? There is no digital equivalent of walking around town in a foreign country without understanding a word people say. **Note: cultural divides are a general problem — I’m trying to focus here on one of the components of the cultural divide: language.**

Who speaks more than one language? In the audience, (almost) everyone. This is doubly not surprising:

– Switzerland is a multilingual country
– this is the “online” crowd (cosmopolitan, highly educated, English-speaking — though English is not a national language here)

Two episodes that made me aware of how strong language barriers can be online, and how important it is to encourage people to bridge the language barriers:

– [launching](http://climbtothestars.org/archives/2001/03/21/faire-part/) [Pompage.net](http://pompage.net) because at the time of the [browser upgrade initiative](http://web.archive.org/web/20010223215147/http://www.webstandards.org/upgrade/) I [realised](http://climbtothestars.org/archives/2001/02/24/tableaux-ou-non/ “Look at all those English language links I pointed my poor French readers to.”) that many French-speaking people didn’t have access to all the material that was available in Anglophonia, because they just didn’t understand English well enough;
– the very different feelings bloggers had about [Loïc Le Meur](http://loiclemeur.com/) when he first started being active in the blogosphere, depending on if they were French- or English-speaking, particularly around the time of the [Ublog story](http://climbtothestars.org/archives/2004/07/21/u-blog-six-apart-and-their-angry-bloggers/).

A few questions I asked the audience (mini-survey):

– who reads blogs in more than one language? (nearly everyone)
– who blogs in more than one language?
– who has different blogs for different languages?
– who has one blog with translated content in both languages? (two courageous people)
– who has one blog with posts in various languages, mixed? (half a dozen people if my memory serves me right)
– who feels they act as a bridge between languages?

So, let’s have a look at a few multilingual blogging issues (from the perspective of a biased bilingual person). Despite the large number of people out there who are comfortable writing in more than one language (and the even larger number who are more or less comfortable reading in more than one language), and the importance of bridging cultural/linguistic gaps, blogging tools still assume you are going to be blogging in **one language** (even though it is now accepted that this language may not be English).

What strategies are there for using more than one language on a blog, or being a good bridge? Concentrate first on strategy and then worry about technical issues. Usage is our best hope to make tool development evolve, here.

*A. Two (or more) separate blogs*

– not truly “multilingual blogging”, it’s “monolingual blogging” twice
– caters well to monolingual audiences
– not so hot for multilingual audiences: must follow multiple blogs, with unpredictable duplication of content

*B. Total translation*

– a lot of work! goes against the “low activation energy for publiction” thing that makes blogging work (=> less blogging)
– good for multilingual and monolingual audiences
– technical issues with non-monolingual page (a web page is assumed to be in a single language…)

*C. Machine translation!*

– getting rid of the “effort” that makes B. fail as a large-scale solution, but retaining the benefiits!
– problem: machine translation sucks
– too imprecise, we don’t want *more* misunderstanding

*D. A single blog, more than one language (my solution)*

– easy for the blogger, who just chooses the language to blog in depending on mood, bridge requirements, etc.
– good for the right multilingual audience
– technical issues with non-monolingual pages
– how do you take care of monolingual audiences? provide a summary in the non-post language

“Monolingual” audiences are often not 100% monolingual. If the number of people who are perfectly comfortable writing in more than one language is indeed rather small, many people have some “understanding” skills in languages other than their mother tongue. Important to reach out to these skills.

For example, I’ve studied German at school, but I’m not comfortable enough with it to read German-language blogs. However, if I know that a particular post is going to be really interesting to me, I might go through the trouble of reading it, maybe with the help of some machine translation, or by asking a German-speaking friend.

A summary of the post in the language it is not written in can help the reader decide if it’s worth the trouble. Writing in a simple language will help non-native speakers understand. Making sure the number of typos and grammar mistakes are minimal will help machine translation be helpful. And machine translation, though it is often comical, can help one get the gist of what the post is about.

Even if the reader is totally helpless with the language at hand, the summary will help him know what he’s missing. Less frustrating. And if it’s too frustrating, then might give motivation to hunt down a native speaker or do what’s required to understand what the post is about.

Other bridging ideas:

– translation networks (translate a post or two a month from other bloggers in the network, into your native language)
– translation portal (“news of the world” with editorial and translation work done) — check out [Blogamundo](http://blogamundo.net/dev/about)

Problem I see: bloggers aren’t translators. Bloggers like writing about their own ideas, they’re creative people. Translating is boring — and a difficult task.

Some more techy thoughts:

– use the lang= attribute, particularly when mixing languages on a web page (and maybe someday tools will start parsing that)
– CSS selectors to make different languages look different (FR=pink, EN=blue for example)
– language needs to be a post (or even post element) attribute in blogging tools
– WordPress plugins: language picker [Polyglot](http://fredfred.net/skriker/index.php/polyglot) and [Basic Bilingual](http://climbtothestars.org/archives/2005/01/23/basic-bilingual-plugin/)
– excerpt in another language: what status in RSS/atom? Part of the post content or not? Can RSS/atom deal with more than one language in a feed, or do they assume “monolingualism”?
– [indicating the language of the destination page a link points to](http://daniel.glazman.free.fr/weblog/archived/2002_09_15_glazblogarc.html#81664011)

**Extra reading**

The nice thing about having a blog is that you can dive back into time and watch your thinking evolve or take place. Here is a collection of posts which gravitate around language issues (in a “multilingual” sense). The [Languages/Linguistics category](http://climbtothestars.org/categories/languages-linguistics) is a bit wider than that, however.

Blogging in more than one language:

– [Writing](http://climbtothestars.org/archives/2000/08/18/writing/) — translation is just too much work; bilingual desires, but daunted by the workload
– [Bilingual?](http://climbtothestars.org/archives/2000/11/24/bilingual/) — the day (four months after its birth) this weblog became officially bilingual
– [Multilingue!](http://climbtothestars.org/archives/2002/09/17/multilingue/) — how to indicate the language of a link target using CSS
– [Life and Trials of a Multilingual Weblog](http://climbtothestars.org/archives/2004/07/11/multilingual-weblog/) — written after some discussions on the topic at [BlogTalk 2.0](http://climbtothestars.org/archives/2004/07/07/blogtalk-20-compte-rendu/)
– [Basic Bilingual Plugin](http://climbtothestars.org/archives/2005/01/23/basic-bilingual-plugin/) for WordPress
– [Thinking About Tags](http://climbtothestars.org/archives/2005/01/16/thinking-about-tags/) (and languages)
– [Requirements for a Multilingual WordPress Plugin](http://climbtothestars.org/archives/2006/01/22/requirements-for-a-multilingual-wordpress-plugin/)
– [Multilingual Proposals (Reboot, BlogCamp)](http://climbtothestars.org/archives/2007/03/18/multilingual-proposals-reboot-blogcamp/)

About the importance of language, etc.:

– [Multilingual Dragon](http://climbtothestars.org/archives/2002/12/22/multilingual-dragon/)
– [SwissBlogs Needs Your Help](http://climbtothestars.org/archives/2005/03/23/swissblogs-needs-your-help/) — [SwissBlogs](http://climbtothestars.org/?s=swissblogs), oldest Swiss blog directory (and multilingual already), call for help. *(I mentioned during my session that I would not comment on any ideas about Switzerland needing a “national blog directory” of any type… part of the story here if you want to dig.)*
– [SpiroLattic Resurrection](http://climbtothestars.org/archives/2006/02/25/spirolattic-resurrection/) — some background on a short-lived multilingual wiki experiment
– [Vous parlez de blogosphère suisse?](http://climbtothestars.org/archives/2006/03/07/vous-parlez-de-la-blogosphere-suisse/) — a tag proposal to try and give the fragmented “Swiss blogosphere” some cohesion
– [About the Swiss Blog Awards (SBAW)](http://climbtothestars.org/archives/2006/04/30/about-the-swiss-blog-awards-sbaw/)
– [English Only: Barrier to Adoption](http://climbtothestars.org/archives/2007/02/24/english-only-barrier-to-adoption/)
– [Not All Switzerland Speaks German, Dammit!](http://climbtothestars.org/archives/2007/03/04/not-all-switzerland-speaks-german-dammit/)

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Multilingual Proposals (Reboot, BlogCamp) [en]

The famous conference [reboot](http://www.reboot.dk/listpublish-63-en.html) will take place in Copenhagen on 31.05-01.06. [I’ll be attending](http://www.reboot.dk/person-471-en.html).

I’m also going to make a proposal for a talk (as the [(un)conference format](http://www.reboot.dk/article-203-en.html) encourages this). I’m being a bit shy about [putting it up on the reboot site](http://www.reboot.dk/listpublish-189-en.html) before I’m happy with the title and description, so for the moment it’s a Google Doc tentatively titled While We Wait For The Babel Fish.

Those of you who know me won’t be very surprised to learn that it’s about multilingualism online. By “multilingualism” online, I’m not only talking about [localisation](http://climbtothestars.org/archives/2007/02/24/english-only-barrier-to-adoption/) or [stupid default languages](http://climbtothestars.org/archives/2007/03/04/not-all-switzerland-speaks-german-dammit/), but mainly about what happens when one wants to get off the various monolingual islands out there and *[use more than one language](http://climbtothestars.org/archives/2004/07/11/multilingual-weblog/)* in one place, for example. How can we help multiple languages coexist in a given space or community, as they do at times in the offline world? Can the tools we have help make this easier?

Another thing that interests me is this “all or nothing” assumption about knowing languages (when you have to check boxes): I wouldn’t check a box saying I “know” Italian, but I can understand some amount of it when it’s written, if it’s necessary. What are we capable of doing with that kind of information? [Read the draft](http://docs.google.com/Doc?id=ddcrwvm8_16d3fhsz) if you want more.

I’m also proposing a session at Saturday’s [BlogCamp in Zürich](http://barcamp.ch/BlogCampSwitzerland) which will be around similar issues, but which will focus precisely on the topic of [multilingual blogging](http://climbtothestars.org/archives/2004/07/11/multilingual-weblog/).

Feedback on these ideas (and anything here) is most welcome. Is this interesting?

**Update 19.03.2007: [proposal is now on the reboot site!](http://www.reboot.dk/artefact-773-en.html) Don’t hesitate to leave comments there.**

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Requirements for a Multilingual WordPress Plugin [en]

[fr] Quelques réflexions concernant un plugin multilingue pour WordPress.

My blog has been bilingual for a long time now. I’ve [hacked bilingualism into it](http://climbtothestars.org/archives/2004/07/11/multilingual-weblog/) and then [plugged it in](http://climbtothestars.org/archives/2005/01/23/basic-bilingual-plugin/). Other [plugins for multilingual bloggers](http://codex.wordpress.org/Plugins/Translation_and_Languages) have been written, and some unfortunately [got stuck somewhere in the development limbo](http://doocy.net/archives/2005/01/20/the-multilingual-acknowledgement/).

Defining specs is a hairy problem. They need to work for the person visiting the site (polyglot or monoglot). They need to work for the person (or people! translation often involves more than one person) writing the posts. They need to work for all the robots, search engines, and fancy browsers who deal with the site.

Here is what I would like a multiple language plugin to do (think “feature requirements”, suggestion, draft):

1. Recognize the browser language preference of the visitor and serve “page furniture” and navigation in the appropriate language. This can be overridden by a cookie-set preference when clicking on a “language link”.
– “WordPress” furniture can be provided by the normal localization files
– how do we deal with other furniture content in the theme (navigation, taglines, etc.)? should the plugin provide with guidelines for theme localization? do such guidelines already exist? extra information appreciated on this point
– “language links” shouldn’t be flags, but language names in their respective languages; can this list be generated automatically based on present localization files? otherwise, can it be set in an admin panel?
– upon “language change” (clicking on a language link), could the localization (action) be done in an [AHAH](http://microformats.org/wiki/rest/ahah)- or [AJAX](http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/AJAX)-like way?
– inevitable hairy problem: tag and category localization
2. Manage “lazy multilingualism” in the spirit of the [Basic Bilingual plugin](http://climbtothestars.org/archives/2005/01/23/basic-bilingual-plugin/) and “true multilingualism” elegantly and on a per-post basis.
– allow for “other language abstracts”
– allow for actual other language version of the post
– given the “general user language” defined above, show posts in that language if a version for that language exists, with mention of other language versions or abstracts
– if that language doesn’t exist, show post in “main blog language” or “main post language” (worst case scenario: the wordpress install default) and show alongside other language abstracts/versions
– abstract in one language (would be “excerpt” in the “main” language) and existence of the post in that language are not mutually exclusive, both can coexist
– does it make more sense to have one WordPress post per language version, or a single post with alternate language content in post_meta? For lazy multilingualism, it makes more sense to have a single WP post with meta content, but fore “translation multilingualism”, it would make more sense to have separate posts with language relationships between them clearly defined in post_meta
3. Use good markup. See [what Kevin wrote sometime back](http://epeus.blogspot.com/2005_01_01_epeus_archive.html#110513233021128637). Make it nice for both polyglot and monoglot visitors. [Inspiration?](http://blogamundo.net/dev/2005/10/31/a-nice-language-switching-widget/)
– use <div lang="xx"> and also rel attributes
4. Provide a usable admin panel.
– when I’m writing the other version of a post, I need access to the initial version for translation or abstracting
– ideally, different language version should be editable on the same admin panel, even if they are (in the WordPress database) different posts
– languages in use in the blog should be defined in an options screen, and the plugin should use that information to adapt the writing and editing admin panels
– idea: radio button to choose post language; N other language excerpt/abstract fields with radio buttons next to them too; abstract radio buttons change dynamically when main post language is set; in addition to other language abstract fields, another field which can contain a post id/url (would have to see what the best solution is) to indicate “this is an equivalent post in another language” (equivalent can be anything from strict translation to similar content and ideas); this means that when WP displays the blog, it must make sure it’s not displaying a post in language B which has an equivalent in language A (language A being the visitor’s preferred language as defined above)
5. Manage URLs logically (whatever that means).
– if one post in two languages means two posts in WP, they will each have their own slug; it could be nice, though, to be able to switch from one to an other by just adding the two-letter language code on the end of any URL; a bit of mod_rewrite magic should do it
6. Integrate into the WordPress architecture in a way that will not break with each upgrade (use post-meta table to define language relationships between different posts, instead of modifying the posts table too much, for example.)
– one post translated into two other languages = 3 posts in the WP posts table
– excerpts and post relationships stored in post_meta
– language stored in post_meta

I have an idea for plugin development. Once the specs are drafted out correctly, how about a bunch of us pool a few $ each to make a donation to (or “pay”) the person who would develop it? Who would be willing to contribute to the pool? Who would be willing to develop such a plugin (and not abandon the project half-way) in these conditions?

These specs need to be refined. We should start from the markup/reader end and get that sorted out first. Then, think about the admin panel/writer end. Then worry about code architecture. How does that sound?

We’ve started a discussion over on [the microformats.org wiki](http://microformats.org/wiki/multilingual-brainstorming). Please join us!

Update: this post is going to suffer from ongoing editing as I refine and add ideas.

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Plugin Updates for WordPress 2.0 [en]

[fr] Les plugins "Bunny's Technorati Tags" et "Basic Bilingual" fonctionnent à  présent avec WordPress 2.0.

It took me a couple of hours, but both [Basic Bilingual](http://dev.wp-plugins.org/wiki/BasicBilingual) and [Bunny’s Technorati Tags](http://dev.wp-plugins.org/wiki/BunnysTechnoratiTags) are now WordPress 2.0-compatible.

A few minor tweaks have been made, most significant of which is that these two plugins can now be used for Pages in addition to normal posts.

They should work, though I haven’t troubleshooted them extensively — please ring the bell if you bump into any problems.

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WordPress Polyglots [en]

A mailing-list for WordPress language (localization) issues. Join it!

[fr] Si vous êtes un utilisateur multilingue de WordPress, rejoignez la liste des polyglottes!

If you’re a multilingual or polyglot user of WordPress, please join the polyglots mailing-list.

It’s really great to have a mailing list devoted entirely to language issues!

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