UI Pet Peeve: Don't use flags of countries for language selection.

It doesn't work for English (Union Jack? Star-Spangled Banner?), forces Austrians to click on the flag of a neighbor country, and lets large parts of Africa only choose the flag of a former colonizer.

The obvious thing is to give the name of the language as the speakers call it as a choice: English, Deutsch, Français, 汉语 or 漢語. That doesn't work for the Korean language which has different names in South and North Korea, but you may choose to neglect the North Korean online users due to their limited number.

@johl Oh and do not hide the language selector away behind some language-specific menu name or weird icon.

There are Unicode -characters (similar to Emojis) for languages, so it depends on the clients side how to display, the document just says EN or en_US...

@deusfigendi Can you give an example of Unicode characters for languages? What's the Unicode character for Spanish, for instance? First time that I heard of that.

Hmm maybe I meant this

But it's not exactly what I meant and it's depricated.
Maybe I'll find the correct thingy somewhere...

@johl good points. Never thought about the colonizer's language aspect, thank you for pointing this out!

That said, it would be remiss of me not to take this opportunity to reference a classic:

Choose language:
🔲 🇬🇧 English (traditional)
🔲 🇺🇸 English (simplified)

(I apologize)

@rysiek @johl

Simplified English speaker here: That is the correct way to do it.

This also fixes the problem in the proposed solution for countries that have multiple languages which are regional but don't reflect the nation's borders, i.e. Canada's English and French; and here in Finland, Finnish, Swedish, and saamelainen (which I can't spell in English because I don't remember which letter has the diacritical... and it's not like you can type that on a US keyboard anyway, so it will just get messed up by most US web developers.)

@rysiek @johl English is the most-spoken language in Ireland, but the English flag is that of a genocidal former colonist.
Relations have obviously improved considerably, though having websites ask Irish users to pick the "Union Jack" is very insensitive.

@seachaint @johl so, one could say it would bring some... ire?

(I am so sorry, I will show myself out)

@seachaint The *English* flag is the St George's cross [¹], the Union Jack is the flag of the UK. It's usually the English who need to be reminded of this distinction.

[¹] Now relegated to uses parallel to those of the Confederate battle flag.

@rysiek @johl

@edavies @rysiek @johl Yes indeed, thanks for the reminder. That kind of adds to the silliness with flag-language bijections, because if the Union Jack is supposed to be a language, who's to say that language should be English and not Cymraeg, Gàidhlig, Kernewek, or even Scots?

Or, lol, Gaeilge..

@seachaint I bumped into a chap on G+ one time who was absolutely insistant that Ireland was not part of the British Isles, and that using that term was an offence against all Irish.

That ... isn't a well-supported case (there are numerous references to BI among Irish sources, and none that I could find clearly articulating an alternative) but it does reflect how contentious language and symbols can be.

There are certainly numerous other instances (as this thread is highlighting).

@rysiek @johl

@dredmorbius @rysiek @johl A thing is called whatever it is called, but Ireland already has a name (several, actually, there's mythology about that whole mess), and "British" has evolved into a national identity and not merely the name for a set of geographical features. So, referring to Ireland as part of the "British Isles" has had evolved connotations and sensitivities. Referring to Ireland as Ireland is only liable to offend a small number of people, who you'll doubtless offend some other way anyway. But implying that we are British is likely to offend many more. :)

@seachaint That said and understood, how is the archipelligo as a whole referred to then?

Etymology is as always interesting if not currently prescriptive (I'm using "Briton" as "British" derives from it):

Briton (n.)
c. 1200, "a Celtic native of the British Isles," from Anglo-French Bretun, from Latin Brittonem (nominative Britto, misspelled Brito in MSS) "a member of the tribe of the Britons," from *Britt-os, the Celtic name of the Celtic inhabitants of Britain and southern Scotland before the 5c. Anglo-Saxon invasion drove them into Wales, Cornwall, and a few other corners. In 4c. B.C.E. Greek they are recorded as Prittanoi, which is said to mean "tattooed people."

In Middle English it was exclusively in historical use, or in reference to the inhabitants of Brittany (see Breton); it was revived when James I was proclaimed King of Great Britain in 1604, and made official at the union of England and Scotland in 1707.


@rysiek @johl

@rysiek So, odd fact here: often it is the immigrant populations of a culture who more accurately reflect the language as it was originally spoken and written. In the case of English, usage underwent a major shift in Britain during the 19th century, whilst there are portions of the United States (mostly among the upper easterly mid-west, particularly in Michigan) who have retained language closer to that of the late 18th century.

Similar situation in Quebec, though that reflects a rural French again of the 18th/19th centuries. Parisians openly mock it. (Source: known multiple Parisians who've done so, without prompting.)

That's not always the case, and other influences can come to bear (esp. in the southeastern US, w/ African influence, and southwestern, with Latinx / native populations influence).

Note that it's East Taiwan which has more widely adopted simplified Chinese scripts, whilst it's RoC who've rertained traditional scripts.

@johl in canada sometimes what you will see is 🇨🇦 : for french and 🇺🇸 : for english

@johl also some languages don't have a country, like Yiddish and Ladino.

Sign in to participate in the conversation

The social network of the future: No ads, no corporate surveillance, ethical design, and decentralization! Own your data with Mastodon!