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False, true, symmetrical and asymetrical multilingual blogs

Luistxo Fernandez 2004/04/25 21:57

L10n in blogs can result in different types of Non-English sites. A localised blog in a given language it's the most obviuous, but then there is that curious possibility: the bilingual or multilingual blog, a territory of the net not totally explored to date. L10n in blogs can result in different types of Non-English sites.

  1. A localised blog, monolingual, in a given language.
  2. A multilingual blog, where a given language_change button transforms the interface from language a to b, and viceversa.
  3. A multilingual blog, where a given language_change button transforms the interface, and also the content visualization, from language a to b, and viceversa.

Some might think that 2) and 3) are the same, but they are not. Not at all.

In the Nuke family of PHP products for blogging and portal management, they have achieved stage 2) quite well.

Is example, is a Nuke site with English content but in which you can change the interface language. But that's not multilingualism. It's a fun trick, at most. Probably, not even fun. What's the interest of a blog with content in English, to have it's interface in Bulgarian? Those are false multilingual blogs.

I have my own false multilingual blog. It's my triblog here, set up as an example of my personal Coreblog l10n effort, not a real posting site. The content is uniform in one language (a non-language, in this case, just lorem ipsum chatter) but if you click on the Language Change options, you can see the interface in Basque, Spanish or English.


In a true multilingual blog, however, content should change when you click the language_change button. That's what the user expects, at least. He/she is reading something in English in a given site, but if a "Spanish" button is offered, the user obviously expects to continue reading the content in Spanish, and not just changing a couple of menu-messages.

This kind of multilingual blog has, in turn, different possibilities. Mainly, it can be symetric or asimetric.

SYM is a symmetric blog. You are reading an item titled Elvis is alive, click on language change, and, well, you get the Spanish version of it: Elvis está vivo. Of course, this requires that, when posting, you have to fill double data in the form, two titles, two text bodies... It cannot work otherwise. Some people use to type double entries for their blogs, but just in one entry: check Merdeinfrance . If the software this blogger uses could be adapted to a doubled-input interface, it could have truly symmetric blogs: now the it's a double-reading blog.

ASYM is an asymmetric blog. Posts are directed, either to an English version, or the Spanish version. We may have 3 messages in English, Elvis is alive, Nostradamus was right, and Mars attacks Earth. And, just two in Spanish, Elvis está vivo, and Carlos Gardel resucita. In this site, when posting, you fill a usual form, but there must be some language choice to be made (or perhaps, two posting forms, one per language).

In ASYM, if you are reading Elvis is alive and click language_change, are you directed to Elvis está vivo? In order to make that possible, there must be some variables, marked somehow, linking those two posts. However, where's that variables when there is no equivalent to a given posting? You are reading Mars attacks Earth and click on language_change... Then you end up reading Carlos Gardel resucita or what?

My personal opinion is that, if you are reading Mars attacks Earth on ASYM type blog, and click on language change, you should land on the Spanish index page of the blog, simply.

Are this kind of blogs possible? Yes. The SYM type is a very closed news-blog type. I think that it is fit only for a corporate-like news posting system or so. A good example is ThyssenKrupp's press releases (A corporate newsroom is a blog? basically, yes, IMHO. Index page with latest posts, the newer ones are up, the other down, click on a given link to read it all...). Some bloggers that opt to translate everything they write, could also switch to that kind of interface.

ASYM type is more free. More apt for the average bilingual blogger. At my company we have developed several of these, based in Squishdot, but they are in the corporate-line, as news service of the sites. No comments allowed, although moderated contributions are possible in some sites.

Check enter any article, and change language to test. The result is different at other levels of that website, as the general content-tree is, unlike, the News-section, truly symmetrical. So, language change is different at

Basque Indymedia is also of this kind. And my own blog, The English Cemetery, wants to be of this kind, asymmetrical and multilingual.

Some posts in Basque, others in English...

However, mine is not a very usual multilingual blog. There are bilingual blogs out there, not in the thousands, but a bunch of them, and they are very different... Most (and mine, also) have some unsatisfactory feature, some l10n detail unresolved. That's the subject for another post, the Ten Commandments for Bilingual Blogs.

Oscar Del Santo
Oscar Del Santo dio:
2008/09/12 12:22

Thanks for this great posting on bilingual/multilingual blogging. Many companies such as OVERALIA are increasingly adopting bilingual and multilingual blog policies (Basque, Spanish, English) and I believe that some of the caveats and distinctions you make in your posting are really useful.

Iruzkina gehitu

Erantzuna formulario hau betez utzi dezakezu. Formatua testu arruntarena da. Web eta e-posta helbideak automatikoki klikagarri agertuko dira.

Galdera: Idatzi zortzi zenbakiak erabiliz

Luistxo works in CodeSyntax, tweets as @Luistxo and tries to manage the automated newssite Niagarank. This Cemetery is part of a distributed multilingual blog (?!). These are the Basque and Spanish versions:

Ingelesen hilerria

El cementerio de los ingleses


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