Tag: W3C

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Arabic Web Days

Language in the News, Language Industry News and Events, Localization Culture

A great initiative is being launched by Google to increase the volume of Arabic web content on the web. Google tell us that to “help build a vibrant Arabic web, we’ve created Arabic Web Days, an initiative in the Middle East and North Africa focused on boosting the amount of Arabic content online.”

Arabic Language in the Arabic Al-Bayan Script

al-ʿArabiyyah (Arabic Language) in written Arabic. Source: WikiPedia

Check it out. Lots of interesting events are planned, leveraging the best of Google’s community outreach, partner relationships, and technology capability. We can learn from this initiative for other languages too. What might such days offer for Basque (Euskara) or Irish (Gaeilge) I wonder?

Arabic is clearly under represented on the web. Only about 3 percent of the total digital content online is in Arabic whereas Arabic speakers make up more than 5 percent of the world’s population. Many more understand the language due to the holy Quran.

Although we often think of Arabic language web technical issues (which revolve around the issues of ligature shaping, characters, and bidirectionality) as being resolved in these days of Unicode, it’s still worth reading up on the nuances, particularly as we’re coming from a low volume and legacy content base. I recommend the W3C insights such as these from Richard Ishida.

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Ultan Ó Broin (@localization), is an independent UX consultant. With three decades of UX and L10n experience and outreach, he specializes in helping people ensure their global digital transformation makes sense culturally and also reflects how users behave locally.

Any views expressed are his own. Especially the ones you agree with.

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How to Use the HTML5 Translate Attribute: A Translatability Best Practice

Personalization and Design, Translation Technology

HTML5 introduces a translate attribute that allows fine-grained control over what content should be translated, or not. Richard Ishida of the W3C has all the details of the attribute and its applicability, as well as some interesting insights into how Bing Translator and Google Translate deal with the translatability of content issue.

Here’s an example of the translate attribute’s use, taken from Richard’s blog (the HTML5 spec’s global attributes section has another other nice example, see the Bee Game.):

<p>Click the Resume button on the Status Display or the
<span translate="no">CONTINUE</span> button
on the printer panel.</p>

See how the word CONTINUE is made non-translatable using the translate attribute’s value set to “no”? Blimey! However, there are times when CONTINUE might need to be translated. So, flip that puppy to “yes”.

This HTML5 attribute is a very welcome addition to the content creation and translation tools world, sure.  But, it is very welcome for other reasons too.

This is a time of new interactions and emerging platforms that challenge the established desktop and website norms of what should be translated or not. Mobile, augmented reality, gamification, and other trends, all challenge established norms of content rules. So too, is it a time when companies redefine themselves, cross over, and promote their own design guidance as a differentiator in the market. Oracle, for example, likes to say “Software, Hardware. Complete” so content needs to cross-reference many deliverables. SAP, as another example, recently launched an app in the consumer space (available in German and English) that may require a different style of content and translation from the enterprise applications space. Android has released user experience (UX)  guidance of its own, and so on.

I previously raised such translatability issues in my Don’t Translate: Won’t Translate blog post.  I chipped into the [Bug 12417] discussion about the attribute’s development, too.

Using content to convey a translation instruction, by making a piece of text all uppercase for example, is not a best practice. It is a UX failure, makes personalization and customization difficult, and assumes the consumer of the content is a second-class stakeholder. Frankly, it is also very dangerous. Can you imagine if software developers used text that way in their code, rather than relying on the program logic?

As for the time-honored method of writing a translation note, or description, telling a translator that some content should not be translated, or should be, well such approaches just ain’t reliable or scalable, are they?

Now, there is a clear best practice to follow (and adapt for other formats). The HTML5 translate attribute educates content developers that the best practice for indicating whether content should be translated or not is through the use of markup (or metadata), and not through how the content is written. Translation tools should update to the HTML5 spec requirements and process this attribute asap.

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Ultan Ó Broin (@localization), is an independent UX consultant. With three decades of UX and L10n experience and outreach, he specializes in helping people ensure their global digital transformation makes sense culturally and also reflects how users behave locally.

Any views expressed are his own. Especially the ones you agree with.

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