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RE: This week's article: Content Language

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From: John Foliot - WATS.ca
Date: Jan 23, 2006 9:45AM


Jukka K. Korpela wrote:
> There should be no splash pages.
> Any choice for primary is better than a splash page. Besides, you can
> use
> language negotiation at the HTTP level to decide on the primary
> language
> according to user preferences as expressed by the browser. See
> http://www.cs.tut.fi/~jkorpela/multi/

Jukka, sorry but that is not always practical or feasible. By law in
Canada, each citizen must have the choice of either English or French
content when dealing with the Federal Government (and further, from
every page). While HTTP header and browser preference selection is the
optimal solution, how do you propose addressing public access terminals
which may be "locked down" in terms of these types of preference
settings?

Canadian government standards mandate that a direct link to the
equivalent alternate language page is directly available on every page -
The English document is linked to the French and vice-versa. The
initial "splash page" primarily allows users to choose the language
stream of their choice, and under certain circumstances may be the only
way of doing so. Beyond that, each page is to be in the primary
"language of choice" (unilingual), again this is mandated by our
language laws as much as any "web standard". I have seen some GoC
(Government of Canada) sites that set a language preference cookie for
repeat visits (and I will not comment directly on that - YMMV).

> Say no to bilingual pages. They confuse people and alienate them.
> Even in
> a "bilingual" country, most people find text in the other language at
> least mildly disturbing when it appears along with a text in their
> native
> language.

*HOWEVER*, if you have no choice, then please by all means ensure that
the appropriate lang attribute be used. This is of particular
importance for users of screen reading technology - the latest and
greatest can now "switch" language files on-the-fly, improving
pronunciation drastically: For example, in Canada, that persistent link
to the French content would (should) be marked as:

<a.href="*_fr.html" lang="fr">Fran