on Feb 24th, 2007Internationalization of websites
Update : Google Desktop, Google’s Blogger have been updated to support 29 languages. Blogger even lets you blog in hindi by converting english letter equivalents to hindi letters on the fly.
Almost all of my favorite websites, be it flickr, meebo or more recently gdocs, have been internationalized to more than one language. As internet defines a truly global network, it just makes sense that a popular service must support more languages for people in countries like Russia, Germany or France to use.
Though most of these internationalization happens through wikis and tools, I don’t think they really cling on to the colloquial essence of the language, which is generally more acceptable. The problem lies in the dual paradigm that in most languages in inherent, one being the speaking or more familiar part of the language and the other being the official part of the language. Take any Indian language for example, I know Tamil and am fluent in conversing, but I cannot understand a single word in any of the news channel. The language on news channel is more of the official type, with official words, one that you would find in government forms or letters. Its understood most of the languages have this dual paradigm and most website functionalities point towards the official language. Clearly people cannot connect to that language on the official level, try localizing your phone and you will find yourself struggling to change the setting back.
Isn’t it a waste of time internationalizing a site and not allowing relevant people to relate to it? I see this becoming a profession for many a people , as internationalization becomes a necessity for any site. The trick will be to develop it with a sound understanding of the local (s)language and provide more familiar words than to confuse a person with official gibberish. Even developing applications will require forethought about internationalization and certain design patterns have to be applied to display and internationalize a site with least possible effort. I am aware of such patterns and methodologies but haven’t really seen them being standardized or used appropriately. Its catching on and pretty fast !!