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Mechanism to allow posts in non-designated language
Thread poster: Samuel Murray

Samuel Murray  Identity Verified
Local time: 16:04
Member (2006)
English to Afrikaans
+ ...
Mar 25, 2009

G'day everyone

In this this:
...various ideas are being flung around about whether the English forums should become more tolerant of posts and replies in other languages.

I think that users should be allowed to post in all forums in whichever language they want to, as long as doing so will not alienate other site users. One way of ensuring this would be if posts in a language that is not the forum's designated language are marked in a highly visual way.

Perhaps a tickbox (similar to "This post is off-topic") at the bottom of the edit pane saying "This post or reply is not in the forum's designated language", and then that post has a slightly different background colour, similar to the Off-topic way of doing it. I don't mean to imply that posts in other languages are "off-topic" but simply that users of the forum in its designated language should not be alienated from it by a barrage of stuff in strange languages.

The same tickbox can apply to all forums, not only the English-language forums (so if you deem fit to post in Basque on the Spanish forum, you are welcome to do so, but you have to respect the Spanish members of that forum by marking your post as "not in designated language").

Of course, there would be no compulsion on other users to respond to your post in that strange language you've used -- it would have to be assumed that you understand the forum's designated language even if you do not post in it yourself.

Your thoughts?

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Paul Cohen  Identity Verified
Local time: 12:04
German to English
+ ...
Non, merci Mar 25, 2009

It would break the flow has quite a number of sub-communities that thrive in specific language forums. I think it would break the flow of a forum in French or Spanish or Russian or whatever if people started writing comments in Portuguese, Swedish or some geeky computer language. N'est-ce pas?

Not your language? No problem: hire a translator!
If you absolutely want to post an entry in a language that you don't master, why not hire a translator to do the job? There might be one or two of them around who could use the work.

Don't want to pay for a translation? could even offer internships for young, up-and-coming translators so they can practice their skills by volunteering to translate forum entries for free ... and they could perhaps pick up "ForumZ pointZ" in the process! Eine Art ABM-Stelle für arbeitslose Übersetzer ... oops, better color-code that German comment!

[Edited at 2009-03-25 11:27 GMT]

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Heinrich Pesch  Identity Verified
Local time: 17:04
Member (2003)
Finnish to German
+ ...
A mess Mar 25, 2009

I don't support your idea, Samuel. There are enough specialised fora all over the net for different languages, like yahoo.groups. If I have a special question I will post there.
Anyhow it takes time here on to get an answer, due to the time zones. If someone then posts in a non-English language, it takes even more time to get help. Not practical.
The non-English fora are for discussions in other languages and for language specific issues.

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Marina Aleyeva  Identity Verified
Local time: 17:04
English to Russian
+ ...
I can't see how it would Mar 25, 2009

Paul Cohen wrote:
It would break the flow

I really can't see how it would. When you, as a visitor to a country that does not speak your language, want to be understood, you will normally make some effort to that end. These things are usually self-regulated between language speakers. They do not need to be regulated by enforcing extra rules. And those systems that do enforce this kind of overregulation, usually do this for political reasons rather than genuinely trying to make communication easier. I can hardly imagine a modern world country respecting human rights where a policeman would try to enforce any sort of language monopoly by telling people in the street which language they should speak - for the mere sake of sticking to the letter of a dubious law.

[Edited at 2009-03-25 13:08 GMT]

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sarandor  Identity Verified
United States
Local time: 10:04
English to Russian
+ ...
I like Samuel's suggestion Mar 25, 2009

Marina Aleyeva wrote:
I can hardly imagine a modern world country respecting human rights where a policeman would try to enforce any sort of language monopoly by telling people in the street which language they should speak - for the mere sake of sticking to the letter of a dubious law.

What Marina is describing reminds me of periodic outbreaks of 'English Only' sign controversies here in the U.S. Usually, they start when a 'concerned' citizen' posts a sign in his small business demanding customers to speak English only. They do it in the name of 'protecting our way of life'. Here is a link to a news article about one of these stories:,2933,339548,00.html

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Katalin Horváth McClure  Identity Verified
Local time: 10:04
Member (2002)
English to Hungarian
+ ...
The language of the thread must be set, not the individual postings Mar 25, 2009

I do not think allowing threads to contain individual postings in various languages is a good idea. It is like trying to have a group discussion when the people sitting around the table speak different languages. It would be completely useless, the discussion could not be followed, and it would soon fall apart.

I think once the language of the thread is set, it should be observed by all participants. (It's like having a sign on the room-door, "Spanish discussion on the mating habits of wild boars", and on the next door "Italian discussion on coffee grinders", etc. Once you enter the room, you are expected to communicate in the designated language.)

What I would like though, is that the original starter of a thread could decide what the language of the thread should be. (Currently it is not possible, this is pretty much set by which forum is used to start the thread.)

The language specification could be selected from a drop-down list when posting the starting message, and the thread title would have a mark appended to it (such as the ISO language code). For practical reasons, it would make sense that the list of selectable languages would be the same as the list of the current non-English forums.
When viewing forum threads, the threads could be filtered/sorted by language (so, I could filter out threads in languages I don't understand).
The filtering function is very important, without such a function, people would have to manually/visually dig through a pile of threads that they are probably not interested in. I think this is a main concern, and the flexible language designation for threads should not be implemented without the corresponding sorting/filtering functions.

The idea is described in more detail in the thread Samuel referred to in his initial posting.

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Henry Dotterer
Local time: 10:04
Not an experiment to which I would assign a high priority Mar 25, 2009

Samuel Murray wrote:
I think that users should be allowed to post in all forums in whichever language they want to, as long as doing so will not alienate other site users.


Your thoughts?

Hi Samuel. Thanks for the suggestion. Something like this might work. However, at the moment, this would not be a project we would give a high priority.

The simple history of this issue is that it used to be that users were allowed to post in whichever language, and it led to user dissatisfaction. Implementing the current policy of defining the 'official' language of a forum (with a few exceptions; the country-specific forums are bilingual) made the problem go away.

I understand your suggestion to clearly identified posts that use a language other than the 'official' language of a forum, but there is nothing about this suggestion that would address what I believe people found most unsatisfactory about the "any language goes" approach - namely, that topics would sometimes be carried into a language that some involved in the discussions could not follow. That frustration would remain.

In short, based on part experience, this is not a suggestion that we would be receptive to experimenting with at the moment. I would give priority to other matters.

Again, thanks. You always have good ideas.

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Henk Peelen  Identity Verified
Local time: 16:04
Member (2002)
German to Dutch
+ ...
would boost forming of cliques Mar 26, 2009

in my opinion.

[Bijgewerkt op 2009-03-26 15:52 GMT]

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