Universal Symbol for Language ?

  • joebert
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Post 3+ Months Ago

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What would be a good universal symbol for the word "language" or the phrase "translate this" ?
Is there a standard one I don't know about ?

For instance, rather than having a large list to cover each language I'd like to use some sort of universal hint to prompt as many peoples attention as possible towards a dropdown menu of sorts. That way it doesn't take up soo much screen space & people don't overlook their language because of it being hidden amongst a nest of others.

I could have a server check the Accept-Language header & perform content negotiation, sure. But I'd like to have something that can be utilized without touching server configuration.

I could do much the same with JS but, actually you know what, the stats application I'm getting my numbers from uses JS so there's actually no reason I can't use JS to check the language and only display likely languages.

Thanks Ozzu, I don't know what I'd do without your posting interface ! :D

I'm still interested in a universal symbol though. :)
  • joebert
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Post 3+ Months Ago

Or not.

Apparently Firefox 3 still doesn't know how to make the browser language available to JS. Even the damn userAgent string reports the wrong language ! :roll:
  • joebert
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Post 3+ Months Ago

This will have to do. Since Google can access the HTTP Accept-Language header before serving the script they can tailor it for the proper language.

http://translate.google.com/translate_tools
  • digitalMedia
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Post 3+ Months Ago

Pssst! Joe, you're talking to yourself. :lol:

Honestly...way over my head. ;)
  • Bigwebmaster
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Post 3+ Months Ago

That is funny you brought this up Joebert, I have been working on translations with ozzu in the past week or so.

As far as a universal symbol I have no idea. I was thinking along the lines of a flag for each language, but still that might take up too much space if I add too many languages.

I also plan to use the Accept-Language headers for guests, and use the control panel for members to override language settings.

The one thing I do know, after watching this:

http://googlewebmastercentral.blogspot. ... ivery.html

Is that any translated pages that you offer should not be the same URLs on your site. So for instance the English version and Spanish version should not use identical URLs, unless you do not plan on having anything translated indexed then it probably wouldn't matter.
  • Zwirko
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Post 3+ Months Ago

Don't use flags since many people find it quite insulting or even maybe offensive.

For example, I often have to click a US flag if I want to read in English. If I was Argentinian or Brazilian it might upset me if I were forced to click a Spanish or Portuguese flag. For me, the Union Jack (also used to denote english) is a symbol that I hold no allegiance to - at all. It does not represent my language, but a political union.

Flags symbolise countries, not languages.

A simple link such as Deutsch, Francais, Suomi or English would be my option.
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Post 3+ Months Ago

I understand your point Zwirko, many countries have multiple languages and thus using flags wouldn't entirely be correct. I am not sure why a flag would be insulting, most countries have their "official" or "co-official" language:

http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Official_language

As far as I am aware (I could be wrong) there are no other symbols to help identify a language, and that is why many sites use flags as that can symbolize a language as described by their official language.

For Ozzu in the control panel it will be no problem to have a drop down list of all the languages spelled out (without using symbols), and all of the content on the bord will be under directories such as es, de, fr, etc. However at some point I will need to have a way for search engines to find these area's and that is where I was thinking flags as a possibility since I could put many more links in a small area using symbols. The other alternative I am thinking is to just put one single link that says translate and then on that page simply list all of the languages and links to the respective areas.
  • Zwirko
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Post 3+ Months Ago

Many, many countries (including my own) have regions which consider themselves "oppressed" or "occupied" or "under foreign rule". In these cases the flag of the oppressor may be highly offensive. For example, I wouldn't want to walk around parts of Belfast with a Union Jack (English language flag) wrapped over my shoulders - I might get lynched.

I think people use flags for languages simply because it is easier and, as you note, takes up less space.
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Post 3+ Months Ago

I noticed the Espaniol in Ozzus profile options awhile ago & made the mistake of checking it out before I remembered I can't read Espaniol. lol
I think that's what prompted me to check out the language stats on my blog, where I noticed I get quite a few visits from non-en languages.
I think bilingual people are finding my pages in search results then refering to my pages in responses to forum posts on the non-en forums I see in my referers more and more lately. Combined with an increase in referers like Google Translate and Babelfish I figured I might as well make it easier if I can.

I thought about flags, but moved on when I asked myself whether to use a Mexican, Spain, etc flag for Spanish then realizing I'd just have a big nest of flag images which wouldn't be that much more helpfull than a nest of words in different languages. :scratchhead:

I never thought about offending anyone with flags before. I really don't understand why anyone would be, but it is what it is I guess.
  • righteous_trespasser
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Post 3+ Months Ago

When you install Windows there is that "language-bar" at the bottom right just left of the time and as I recall, by default it says "EN-US" and then from there you can select your language ... Isn't that a way ... ? or do they sell windows in other languages than english to start off with?
  • joebert
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Post 3+ Months Ago

Well, there's the system language which I believe you're refering to RT, then there's the language you set your browser to ask for when fetching web pages AKA the HTTP Accept-Language header value.
  • mindfullsilence
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Post 3+ Months Ago

With so many international sites on the web, google translate has become a huge part in translating websites into english for me. I was thinking though, the translate bar has the word "translate" in english. What if someone comes across a website in english, with an english "translate" bar, and their from, say, algeria. They may not understand the word "translate, and therefor not recognize the bar as a translator. Should there be a universally known symbol on the web that means "translate"?

Just an idea.
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  • digitalMedia
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Post 3+ Months Ago

Yeah! Like the RSS symbol. That wouldn't be bad.
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Post 3+ Months Ago

Here's my vote - variation on babelfish

Image
  • mindfullsilence
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Post 3+ Months Ago

just not sure what it would be, maybe a stick figures head with a talk bubble that has random symbols like "#$!" in it. What do you think?

EDIT: HAHA atno, that's almost exactly what I was thinking! I was writing this post at the same time you submitted I guess
  • SB
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Post 3+ Months Ago

Google has index pages for whichever country you reside in, so if you were living in a non-english speaking country they would load up the page in that language.

For example if you were french and you wanted to search stuff you wouldn't come across the page in English, you would have the french version... www.google.fr
  • dyfrin
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Post 3+ Months Ago

Interesting.

http://www.flickr.com/photos/maisonbisson/2097427487/
Too much like refresh in IE.
http://4.bp.blogspot.com/_f1pA_pj4ZQ8/R ... e_icon.jpg
hmm..
http://wiki.laptop.org/images/thumb/8/8 ... n5.svg.png
chat client imo..
http://wiki.laptop.org/images/thumb/9/9 ... n1.svg.png
imo the closest.

I am imagining some specific font that shows an English a with a Japanese a and the two arrows curved showing a circle.

An ozzu legacy if one is created here and gains wide acceptance.
  • joebert
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Post 3+ Months Ago

I like that last one too dyfrin. Or at least the concept, I'm not sure the characters would work for everyone.
  • DonMashak
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Post 3+ Months Ago

3 years later....

Is anyone good with graphics or images?

I was thinking 3 arrows fashioned in a circle with images between them.

The first image a head with a cartoon voice box with gibberish in it.

The 2nd image a head facing the opposite direction with a rectangle inside the head containing different gibberish.

The third image a light bulb coming on.

Face -> face opposite direction -> light bulb ->back to original face.

Any feed back?

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