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Waiting For The Babel Fish

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Talk I gave at Google on 10.07.2007. See http://climbtothestars.org/archives/2007/07/10/talk-languages-on-the-internet-at-google-tomorrow/ -- slightly modified version of the one I gave at reboot.

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Waiting For The Babel Fish

  1. 1. Waiting for the Babel Fish Stephanie Booth
  2. 2. Internet: Space Cruncher <ul><ul><li>Freedom from spatial constraints </li></ul></ul><ul><ul><li>more intercultural contact </li></ul></ul><ul><ul><li>change of initial obstacle: </li></ul></ul><ul><ul><li>space language </li></ul></ul>
  3. 3. Linguistic Borders <ul><ul><li>Online, the strongest borders are linguistic. </li></ul></ul><ul><ul><li>Some multilingual people act as bridges. </li></ul></ul><ul><ul><li>How could our tools assist them in their task? </li></ul></ul>
  4. 4. Misconceptions <ul><ul><li>But everybody speaks English! </li></ul></ul><ul><ul><li>country = language </li></ul></ul>
  5. 5. Geographical Abuse <ul><ul><li>IP => country => language, right? </li></ul></ul>country != language bad localisation
  6. 6. Guilty: Amazon
  7. 7. Guilty: eBay
  8. 8. Guilty: PayPal
  9. 9. Guilty too! Google.ch => DE Blogger in France => FR
  10. 10. L10n advice for Tool Builders <ul><ul><li>localise early, localise smart </li></ul></ul><ul><ul><li>plan non-EN from the start (not an afterthought) </li></ul></ul><ul><ul><li>language != country </li></ul></ul><ul><ul><li>regional variations (fr-fr, fr-ch, fr-qc...) </li></ul></ul><ul><ul><li>« crowdsource » </li></ul></ul><ul><ul><li>in-house « linguist » </li></ul></ul><ul><ul><li>smart user language detection </li></ul></ul>
  11. 11. Detecting User Language <ul><ul><li>Specified by: </li></ul></ul><ul><ul><li>profile (tool-side) </li></ul></ul><ul><ul><li>browser preferences </li></ul></ul><ul><ul><li>OS/browser language </li></ul></ul><ul><ul><li>geographical location </li></ul></ul><ul><ul><li>one language? n languages? </li></ul></ul><ul><ul><li>priority? </li></ul></ul><ul><ul><li>how proficient? </li></ul></ul>
  12. 12. Countries are important, but... <ul><ul><li>for language: one factor amongst several </li></ul></ul><ul><ul><li>for laws: very important </li></ul></ul><ul><ul><li>taxes & censorship </li></ul></ul><ul><ul><li>Examples: </li></ul></ul><ul><ul><li>- shipping </li></ul></ul><ul><ul><li>- porn </li></ul></ul>
  13. 13. What are my languages? <ul><ul><li>know / don't know (too binary) </li></ul></ul>Know? Speak? Read? Write? Read a book? A newspaper article? Have a conversation? Write a letter? Write a book? Give a talk?
  14. 14. Multilingual Humans <ul><ul><li>Who is multilingual? </li></ul></ul><ul><ul><li>more multilinguals than monolinguals </li></ul></ul><ul><ul><li>Being human among humans means living in a state of ever incomplete multilingualism. </li></ul></ul><ul><ul><li>Mario Wandruszka </li></ul></ul>
  15. 15. Monolingual Silos <ul><ul><li>isn't the internet multilingual? </li></ul></ul><ul><ul><li>multilingual community </li></ul></ul><ul><ul><li><> </li></ul></ul><ul><ul><li>multilingual people </li></ul></ul><ul><ul><li>multiple monolingual spaces </li></ul></ul><ul><ul><li><> </li></ul></ul><ul><ul><li>mixing languages </li></ul></ul><ul><ul><li>where do we fit in? </li></ul></ul>
  16. 16. L10n Insufficient <ul><li>Localisation: </li></ul><ul><li>translation of the interface into another language </li></ul><ul><li>monolingual in various languages </li></ul><ul><li>« Multilingualisation »: (yes, it's ugly) </li></ul><ul><li>mixing languages </li></ul><ul><li>manages code-switching </li></ul><ul><li>different language combinations </li></ul>
  17. 17. Blogging Tools: WordPress <ul><li>well localised </li></ul><ul><li>language is a blog-level attribute </li></ul><ul><li>assumes you blog in one language </li></ul><ul><li>no in-built strategies for mixing languages </li></ul><ul><li>=> 1 blog per language </li></ul><ul><li>a solution: other-language excerpts </li></ul><ul><li>translation is too hard </li></ul><ul><li>keeps mono&multi audience quite happy </li></ul><ul><li>keeps the bridge-blogger very happy </li></ul>
  18. 18. Presence Tools: Twitter <ul><li>not localised => adoption issue </li></ul><ul><li>non-EN communities present </li></ul><ul><li>language filtering? </li></ul><ul><li>language detection? </li></ul>
  19. 19. The Multilingual Challenge <ul><ul><li>Making a space both: </li></ul></ul><ul><ul><li>multilingual-friendly </li></ul></ul><ul><ul><li>monolingual-friendly </li></ul></ul><ul><ul><li>How do we keep everybody happy? </li></ul></ul><ul><ul><li>different language combinations </li></ul></ul><ul><ul><li>different language skills </li></ul></ul><ul><ul><li>No solution is perfect for everybody. </li></ul></ul>
  20. 20. Going Multilingual a strategic and technical problem <ul><li>Strategic </li></ul><ul><li>how do we allow languages to mix? </li></ul><ul><li>what do we translate? </li></ul><ul><li>what do we show people? </li></ul><ul><li>how do people define their language skills? </li></ul><ul><li>Technical </li></ul><ul><li>design </li></ul><ul><li>encoding </li></ul><ul><li>lang, hreflang (HTML) </li></ul><ul><li>language detection </li></ul><ul><li>automated translation </li></ul>Remember. Most people are multilingual.
  21. 21. Bonne route ! <ul><li>Flickr Photo Credits </li></ul><ul><li>romerican </li></ul><ul><li>Antoon Kuper </li></ul><ul><li>Hobvias Sudoneighm </li></ul><ul><li>Grant MacDonald </li></ul><ul><li>Zoom Zoom </li></ul><ul><li>A JC </li></ul><ul><li>Claude Covo-Farchi </li></ul><ul><li>Stephanie Booth </li></ul><ul><li>Lausanne, Switzerland </li></ul><ul><li>http://climbtothestars.org </li></ul><ul><li>[email_address] </li></ul><ul><li>Skype: steph-booth </li></ul>Google, 10.07.2007 Mountain View, CA

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