Last week was Northern Voice 2008 (Feb 22-23), a blogger’s conference here in Vancouver. It was held in UBC’s beautiful Forest Sciences Centre, in and around a pleasant sunny atrium lined with gorgeous wood panelling.

I convened a session on multilingual blogs and websites. I was interested in the issues that arise when we try to do all that cool blog or website activity in a second and third language. The first language is no problem; modern tools can handle almost any single language.

A great group of about 15 people joined in. We put our discussion notes on a page on the Northern Voice wiki (, so check that out to see what we discussed.

I walked in with a categorisation of the issues that arise as a website goes multilingual. This held up well in the discussion. Maybe you’ll find it helpful too.

  • Examples: who’s doing it in multiple languages, and how well?
  • Value: who needs multiple languages and what for?
  • Structure: how to link content in one language to another?
  • Content: is content in various languages the same or different? How/why different?
  • Tools: how to make your blogging system or service or CMS handle the text and connect to your translators?
  • Translation: how to get the content from one language to the other?
  • Process: how to make all the parts move together and on time?

I’m really interested in multilingual websites as a way to structure thought about world-ready technology, and as a focus for my consulting practice. Expect to hear more about it.