Ten Commandments for bilingual blogs
Is it possible, bilingual blogging?
Yes, and there are sites out there. But, the truly coherent, consistent, bilingual blog... I just haven't found it. My blog isn't either that kind of blog. I have written a list of features (Ten Commandments) with which true multilingual blogs should comply.
My own blog is, surprise! quite compliant. Well, this list reflects personal viewpoints, so no one should feel disappointed with this superiority of standards shown by The English Cemetery: it's a biased commandment list. However, I miserably fail with commandments 6 and 7, so far. Regarding 4, my blog could behave better also (and it can, using the power of Zope and Localizer, but I'm just too lazy right now).
So, the good, true and faithful bilingual blog should have:
- Language change. There should be a button, link, or pulldown menu to click or select, present in every page. That's the way to turn from reading content in one language to the other in a bilingual blog. Mixtures of languages in individual pages, no, that's not OK. Langauge change behaviour could vary: the distinction between symmetrical and asymmetrical blogs that I describe here is a key issue.
- Monolingual entry page. The main page appears to you in a given language, coherently English, or coherently Basque. Then, you may opt to change language. The first page to appear may be set by default, or perhaps, depend on browser settings. This commandement rules out the usual mixture of Lang1 / Lang2 messages in the first page, ordered by pure chronology, as well as the very curious double-horizontal layout of several sites.
- Interface as well as content bilingualism. You are reading a Basque post, so you can click on the
Erantzunaklink, if you know what it means. You are reading an English post, so you can click on the
Commentslink. Interface bilingualism should be bilingualism, not double-strings. No "Erantzunak / Comments" links. I don't like the redundancy at this en-fr or en-de sites. Messages should be in one or other language, depending on the content or language-category of the post you are reading, or in the action taken by the users when clicking the language change option.
- Interface string localisation capabilities. Not just single terms, by locale sensitive logic issues like date formats (and dates are important when blogging) should be localised in each language. In XML feeds, date formats should be standard.
- No double reading work. These people, for instance, they translate every post, so they explain things twice, once in A, another one in B. ( Transblawg , 0909 ) Such a blog could work with symmetrical model described in a previous post . One may fell the need to say the same things in several languages, of course, but, the reader? I can only understand that as an attempt of 2nd language or translation-teaching for your readers. Separate messages makes discussion or commenting consistent as well. Basque readers respond to Basque messages, Spanish readers to Spanish ones. Different threads may be constructed, of course. A bilingual messages can't have a consistent thread behind it: are we supposed to comment also in bilingual ?
- Open and coherent categorization. So far, my own blog is trilingual cause I have twisted Coreblog to make just 3 categories as locale-defining factors. The result is that I don't have categories, just language options. Other blogs also use categorization for multilingualism.
- Character sets conveniently adapted to non-ascii character sets. At the HTML interface level, as well as in XML feeds or pings (trackbacks) delivered.
- One separate XML feed per language. This is the most obvious feature to me. Look at the commandments listed here: the mixing of languages in postings, categories, interfaces and so on can be so complicated. The XML feed must always be clear. Those who use the feed with some aggregator or other need clear messages from our feed. Basque users need a clear XML feed in Basque from this site. Basque users who understand other languages and want the other content that I post here, then it's easy: they can subscribe to the other language feeds as well. The XML feed should include, if possible the
langvariable marked following the Dublin Core standard or in any other feed specification that there might be.
- Same system (that is, ONE system) for the bilingual blog. If it's a moblog, the email posting procedure must be the same for the whole blog, with just one variable (a kewyord in the message or something) to direct the email to the Basque or English section of the blog. If you change the skin, the css-style, whatever, you change it once, it is applied conveniently to the whole blog, to its contents.
- Should be based in free software and its content protected by an open license, like creative commons or FDL. I needed the 10th commandement to reach the magic number, so I included this one :-)
Examples out there.
- Blogalization is funny, several languages are categories, but there other supra-language categories, all in English, for English posts. English is supra-categorical... and interface messages are only in English. Not, clearly, what I ask in point #6.
- Miss-Information.net has clear separated categories (good, as for #6), some are for french posts, the other for English posts. But the main index page is a chronological mixture, not a coherent page that I ask in point #2. Moreover, the interface messages are "double", not bilingual as I ask in point #4.
- Joi Ito, and his double blog, in English and Japanese . Good try. However, no interface bilingualism (#4). The japanese side, has the same Movable Type message collection in English. Moreover, I am not truly convinced if it is really what I ask in #9, just one machinery or two are there working in this site?
- Some posts in one language, others in other. Just chronological ordering and mixing, and also a mix, or monolingualism in interface messages. There are several of this kind. They seem interesting, btw. This one is Farsi and English and this one Chinese and English
- Separate feeds. These two sites have separate feeds, Polish/English and Dutch/German":http://www.interdependent.biz/main/index2.html But they look awkward with their double home-page: Horizontal scrolling cannot be the solution for bilingual blogging.