Showing posts with label multiple languages. Show all posts
Showing posts with label multiple languages. Show all posts

Thursday, April 2, 2009

Japanese and Lithuanian languages added

Colnect is now available in 35 languages. The latest two additions are Japanese and Lithuanian.

Translations on Colnect are performed manually by volunteering translators who are members of the site. Whenever a phrase is not properly translated they can translate it easily. It's all explained here.

A recent addition is the use of automated suggestions. When a phrase has not yet been translated, it'll first be translated with an automated suggestion. An icon telling the translator he should translate (or confirm) that phrase still exists. The use of suggestions is intended for the period of time after a new content is published on Colnect (which is quite often) until a translator actually gets to translate it.

Yes, automated translations sometimes suck really bad. For example "FREE trial - 1 month" had a Hebrew suggestion that can be translated back to English as "Free trial - 1 year". What?!?! How did a month become a year? That is quite dangerous and I hope these mistakes are not too frequent. I hope that the automated suggestions many times "get over the net", meaning they are understood by the reader although acknowledged as improper language use.

Japanese is currently the only language for which Colnect yet has no translator and so we rely on the automatic suggestions. It's a sort of pilot to see if it can attract Japanese collectors and hopefully one of them will agree to become a translator. If this experiment succeeds, other languages may be added this way. A warning message will be displayed with languages that are not completely manually translated.

You're welcomed to check Transposh for translation solutions.

Thursday, September 11, 2008

The "Language Icon" initiative

Colnect is currently available is 25 languages and so there should be an easy way to let users choose their preferred language. To facilitate this, there's currently a big part of the welcome screen that shows the names of the different languages. The reason is that it's highly important that a user would see their language available when first visiting the site since for many people using their native tongue greatly improves usability.

Having a big box with all language names is something I can get away with on the main page but not on every page of Colnect. The problem is not when registered members (who will have their preferred language loaded as they log in) but with new visitors. For this reason there's currently a selection box on the top and side menu which allows to change a language quickly for every page.

A small issue remains: what do you write in this selection box? Currently, the English word 'Language' appears there. The word itself could have been translated to every language but seeing this word in a language you probably don't understand (if you understand it, why would you change your language?) won't be very helpful. This is not ideal but I have to assume every Internet users knows at lit a tiny bit of English (sorry all, but English is the web's most international language).

I've considered the option of using flags but have ruled it out because:
1 - Flags represent countries, not languages. Consider English which is widely spoken in the US, UK and Canada. On the other hand, consider Canada which has both English and French as official languages.
2 - Adding 25 flag icons for every page is an extra communication load with no good justification.

A solution?

An interesting project I've came across is the 'Language Icon'. They've decided to create an international icon to mean the word "language". Here it is: Classic Icon 32 x 32
It's supposed to look like a tongue though personally I don't find it resembling a tongue. If it'll catch on, however, it could be of great use to websites / application around the world. Kudos for the idea!

I've already added this icon to Colnect V2, about to be released to the public soon, where you can find it on the side menu on internal pages.

Monday, May 5, 2008

Google's AdSense for an international website


This is a technical post explaining how to use Google's AdSense on a multiple languages website.

The problem: having a dynamic website that is available in many languages is great but there has to be a way to let AdSense know which languages the user is currently using so relevant ads would appear in that user's language.

Solution: as I've researched the issue for colnect.com (available in 25 languages), it seems the only way to let AdSense know the page's language is by using different URIs for each language. There's currently no way to pass the language as a parameter to the JavaScript responsible for showing the ads.

The following pictures show the same page in different languages. Note that the AdSense ads match the language of the page.



On colnect.com, each link is now prefixed by two letters which signal which language is used. Thus:

http://telecards.colnect.com/fr/browse.php

Refers to a French-language (fr) page while:

http://telecards.colnect.com/es/browse.php

refers to a Spanish-language (es) page.

Calling the relevant PHP script and converting the language prefix to a parameter is easily done using Apache's mod_rewrite.

An important issue I had to address is what happens when one user sends a link or publishes a link. Let's say I know both Spanish and English and prefer to view colnect.com in Spanish. However, perhaps some of my contacts know Hebrew and English but not Spanish. Thus if I send a Spanish-language link to a Hebrew-speaking user, it would be a shame if the site would show up in Spanish and confuse the other person.

To address this issue the language information is saved in the session and the user is redirected to the appropriate link according to his session language. If no session information is found, the language referred to in the link is used. The language is also saved in the user's account so if one logs in using a page in any language, upon a successful log in the language is changed to the previously chosen one

Here's the example (the two letters note the language: es = Spanish, en = English):

If you're visiting the site for the first time, this link will show a Spanish page:

http://telecards.colnect.com/es/browsecoll.php?filter_country=y

Now, if you change the language to English (on the bottom of the side menu - there's a combo-box), you will be redirected to:

http://telecards.colnect.com/en/browsecoll.php?filter_country=y

So now, if you try a Spanish link such as:

http://telecards.colnect.com/es/browsecoll.php?filter_country=y&country=105

You'll automatically be redirected to:

http://telecards.colnect.com/en/browsecoll.php?filter_country=y&country=105

You can change into any of the 25 supported languages and you'll see the AdSense ads now appear in the correct language:

| English | العربية | Български | 汉字 | Hrvatski | Česky | Nederlands | Suomi | Français | Deutsch | Ελληνικά | עברית | Magyar | Italiano | 우리말 | Polski | Português BR | Português PT | Română | Русский | Slovenščina | Español | Svenska | ภาษาไทย | Türkçe |

Hopefully this post gave a sufficient outline to a working solution.

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