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Building Multilingual Websites in Drupal and Joomla, at IUC34

Posted by on 31 Oct 2010 | Tagged as: CMS, drupal, i18n, Joomla, meetings and conferences, multilingual, Unicode

Once again I was fortunate enough to be invited to present at this year’s Internationalization and Unicode Conference (IUC). I have posted the paper and slides for my tutorial, Building Multilingual Websites in Drupal and Joomla, over on jdlh.com.

This was my abstract, from the Unicode conference program for my talk: Continue Reading »

How about an IMLIG (Internationalisation, Multilingual, Localisation Interest Group) for Vancouver?

Posted by on 27 Jun 2010 | Tagged as: i18n, language, meetings and conferences, multilingual, Unicode, Vancouver, web technology

There is a lot of international, multilingual, and multicultural activity in Vancouver. Also, there’s a thriving tech scene. But there’s no place for the people in the intersection of those two circles — those interested in and working on the internationalisation, localisation, and multilingual aspects of technology projects — to get together and share ideas. I think there ought to be.

And I’ll even propose a name: IMLIG1604, the I18n L10n M11l I6t G3p (Internationalisation, Localisation, and Multilingual Interest Group) for North America’s 604 area code. If you can decipher the title, you’re in the club!

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Will Machine-only Translation Always Fall Short?

Posted by on 22 Jun 2009 | Tagged as: culture, i18n, language

I encountered a new blog from my i18n tribe today, Localization Best Practices. Their post, “Pidgins and Creoles” or “Why Machine-only Translation Will Always Fall Short”, caught my eye.  It is interesting, even if I don’t fully agree with them.

Jonathan writes that, at a recent conference on localisation:

…an audience member asked me about machine translation, and if it would ever completely take the place of human linguists in the industry. I answered “No,” although I did concede that machine translation is consistently making strides and does have a place in the localization community. He then mentioned that a scientific group in Europe recently had success with a robot performing a live human appendectomy. He believed that if something that delicate could be automated, what made something a “simple” as language beyond the scope of machines and artificial intelligence?  I thought about his question and then simply said, “Because there are no pidgins or creoles for appendectomies.” Continue Reading »

“International and multilingual Drupal and Joomla! sites” at LinuxFest Northwest

Posted by on 29 Apr 2009 | Tagged as: CMS, drupal, i18n, Joomla, meetings and conferences, multilingual, web technology

“International and multilingual Drupal and Joomla! sites” slide previewLast week I gave a presentation, International and multilingual Drupal and Joomla! sites. I’ve posted my slides and handouts at that link for anyone who wants to catch up on them.

The occasion was LinuxFest Northwest 2009, held at Bellingham Technical College in Bellingham, WA, USA. It was a delightful event. It’s thoroughly grassroots and volunteer, it has a friendly and accessible vibe, yet it attracts very knowledgeable people.

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International and multilingual Drupal sites

Posted by on 22 Nov 2008 | Tagged as: CMS, drupal, i18n, meetings and conferences, Vancouver

International and multilingual Drupal sitesI gave a presentation about “International and multilingual Drupal sites” to the friendly folks at the Vancouver Drupal Users Group on November 20, 2008. Follow the link above to see the slides.

This was a great opportunity for me to investigate Drupal 6’s internationalisation (i18n). As part of the research for my paper, I set up a basic Drupal 6 site with UI strings and content translated into Japanese and English languages. I found that Drupal 6 has very good support for multilingual site hosting. However, there were some tricky aspects to installing the right modules and then setting up the system configuration. I summarise them in the presentation, but it’s probably worth writing some better documentation.

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Jim is a panelist at the Internet Marketing Conference, Vancouver, Sept 12

Posted by on 07 Sep 2008 | Tagged as: culture, i18n, language, meetings and conferences, Vancouver

Internet Marketing Conference in Vancouver, September 11-12, 2008I’m going to be a panelist at the Internet Marketing Conference Vancouver 2008, which runs from September 11-12, 2008. The panel is called “Writing for the Web“. It is full of experts on writing — and then there’s me. I’ll be approaching from the topic crosswise, talking about international and multilingual issues. In other words, how your writing is affected if it will be translated, or is part of a multinational project.

The panelists are an interesting bunch. I’m looking forward to meeting them. They are:

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Simple script-detection algorithm for font switching?

Posted by on 26 Aug 2008 | Tagged as: i18n, language, multilingual, software engineering, Unicode

Does anybody know of a simple script-detection algorithm (or heuristic) for font switching?

This came up with one of my clients. Suppose you have a guest book on your web site, and seven visitors left you the following inspiring messages:

  1. すべての人間は、生まれながらにして自由であり、かつ、尊厳と権利とについて平等である。
  2. 人人生而自由,在尊严和权利上一律平等。
  3. Semua orang dilahirkan merdeka dan mempunyai martabat dan hak-hak yang sama.
  4. 人人生而自由,在尊嚴和權利上一律平等。
  5. Alle Menschen sind frei und gleich an Würde und Rechten geboren.
  6. ‘Ολοι οι άνθρωποι γεννιούνται ελεύθεροι και ίσοι στην αξιοπρέπεια και τα δικαιώματα.
  7. 모든 인간은 태어날 때부터 자유로우며 그 존엄과 권리에 있어 동등하다.

(It looks like your visitors all read the Universal Declaration of Human Rights courtesy of the UDHR in Unicode project).

Now suppose you are so touched that you want to lay out all seven messages in a PDF file, and print it out as a booklet.  You have a beautiful layout template, and various complementary fonts: Latin script, Japanese, Korean, simplified Chinese, Traditional Chinese, and Greek script.

Which font to you apply to each message?  More importantly, is there a simple heuristic by which software can make the choice? (More after the jump.)

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Jim presents to Joomla Day Vancouver this Saturday, June 14, 2008

Posted by on 11 Jun 2008 | Tagged as: CMS, i18n, Joomla, meetings and conferences, multilingual, Vancouver

There is a Joomla! Day in Vancouver this Saturday. I’ll be giving a brief presentation, on jdlh.com as an example of a multilingual Joomla! website, with human-friendly URLs.

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“Web 2.0 goes to Babel: Multilingual websites and user-supplied content” at IUC32

Posted by on 31 May 2008 | Tagged as: CMS, i18n, Joomla, meetings and conferences, multilingual, Unicode

Oh right, I forgot to mention: I’ve been accepted to present to the 32nd Internationalization & Unicode Conference this September! I’m presenting on a topic which I’ve been working on lately: multilingual websites. The title is: Web 2.0 goes to Babel: Multilingual websites and user-supplied content.

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“Do all languages in the world use Western numerals (1, 2, 3 etc) to express numerical values?”

Posted by on 02 Apr 2008 | Tagged as: culture, i18n, language, software engineering

One of the answers I occasionally write at LinkedIn Answers seemed worth reposting here. The question was: “Do all languages in the world use Western numerals (1, 2, 3 etc) to express numerical values?“. My answer (slightly revised):

The simple answer to your question is, “No”. Or, “Yes”. It depends which exact question you are asking.

Is it the case that all languages in the world use only Western numerals (usually known as “Arabic” or “Hindu-Arabic numerals“, by the way) to express numerical values? No. Many languages use multiple number forms, depending on context. In the English language, for example, a numerical value could be expressed with words (“one”) in text, Hindu-Arabic numerals (“1”) in a technical context, or Roman numerals (“i”, “I”) in lists. Arabic, Hindi, Japanese, and Chinese all have native characters to express numerical values, which are used in some contexts.

Do all languages in the world use Western numerals sometimes, in some contexts, to express numerical values? Yes — mostly, probably. The qualifications are because I hate to make generalisations about human culture; it’s so diverse. And, note that languages without written forms probably don’t use Hindu-Arabic numerals at all.

Is it the case that Western numerals are — in all cultures, in all contexts — the idiomatic, preferred way to express numerical values? No. They aren’t even sufficient for all contexts in English (viz “one”, “i”).

Do all cultures which use Western numerals to express numerical values do so in the same way? No. In particular, the punctuation between the whole and the fractional part of a number, and the grouping of digits, differ by cultures. North America uses “1,234,567.89”; many European cultures use “1.234.567,89”; I’ve seen Japanese texts that say “123,4567.89”. See the CLDR number format patterns, creating international number formats in Excel, and the user guide to ICU formatting numbers.

Let’s shift focus from expressing numbers in cultures to implementing numbers in software products.

If you were making priority decisions for a software product (that’s my background) to expand its market internationally, and that product expresses numerical values using Hindu-Arabic numerals in some contexts appropriate in North America, can you be confident that it’s the only system you’ll need to express numerical values? No. You of course need to look at the cultural requirements of each new market as you go. But I’m confident that over time, some market will require some system other than Hindu-Arabic numerals to express numerical values. So I’m confident that sooner or later, you will have to give that software product the ability to express numerical values in a variety of ways (i.e., to internationalise it).

Postscript: the questioner, LinkedIn product manager Minna King, was kind enough to mark this as the “Best Answer” of the six posted.

[Edited for clarity based on reader feedback.]

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