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.

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@johl what about dialects? Hong Kong's dialect has its own Minecraft language, and even Ancient Chinese..
Some people are even going for Taiwan Standard Chinese, and not just Traditional Chinese

@twinkle These dialects have a name in their respective language, don't they?

@johl @twinkle


@johl @twinkle i generally don't like the case where there's translation for "a regional variant" when there's no translation for that language general--the point is, the former should be derived from the latter.

eg. there are usually "Chinese [sic] (Taiwan)" and "Chinese [sic] (China [sic])" but no general, un-regionalized Mandarin (which is more proper than "Chinese"). I just don't want to be affiliated with some region.

An ideal resolution would be to treat cmn-Hans, cmn-Hant, cmn-CN, cmn-TW etc. as variants of cmn, and reuse on the software level the translations for cmn into the variants. i.e. when a translation is missing for cmn-Hant we should be able to automatically use cmn-Hans, rather than fallback to a global default locale (usually English) as Mandarin users that reads Traditional Chinese are more likely to be more familiar with Mandarin written in Simplified Chinese than English.
@johl Oh and do not hide the language selector away behind some language-specific menu name or weird icon.

@johl I disagree with your suggestion to disregard small people groups.

It's not that hard to name a language option "한국어 / 조선말".

@samgai @johl Aren’t South and North Korean pretty different at this point anyway?

@mastodon @samgai I would say the written language is identical, apart from some very minor vocabulary differences (e.g. fewer to almost no loanwords from English in North Korea)

@samgai A possible option that leaves out the touchy political aspects would be 우리 말 😉

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)

@andre @rysiek @johl Text is the only actual way to represent most languages. I don't speak "Union Jack", I speak Hiberno-English. Indeed if I were speaking Irish, the Irish flag would still be inappropriate: there are plenty of USian and Canadian Irish speakers, for example. They aren't speaking "Tricolour of the Republic of Ireland", they're speaking Irish.

@andre @rysiek @johl I suppose I can add a corollary to all this: many languages could probably benefit from having recognised icons that are distinct from nationality. For example in Ireland, where Irish is endangered, it would be nice to have a simple iconographic way to say "I like to speak Irish" - wearing a tricolour pin just looks like a weird nationalism.
In Northern Ireland, Irish should not be attached to the flag of the Republic or it will alienate people who still want Northern Ireland to be part of the UK. Whatever I might think of _that_ idea, I still want them to feel welcome to use our shared language.

@seachaint @andre @rysiek @johl

This has been around since the early 1900's

"Fáinne is the name of a pin badge worn to show fluency in, or a willingness to speak, the Irish Language."

@ken_fallon @seachaint @andre @rysiek @johl that's interesting!

I remember a story about hospitals in Northern Germany that encouraged nurses and doctors who are conversational in Plattdeutsch to wear a button saying "Ick snak Platt" ("I speak Plattdeutsch") to encourage patients to use that dialect; apparently that was helpful for better communication between patients and doctors.

@seachaint they've created one of these badges for Gàidhlig too, as uploaded. It was prototyped to say 'cleachdi' but they went with 'Gàidhlig' instead.

There's no proficiency like with the Fáinne just willingness.

@andre @rysiek @johl

@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 not to mention there are 6000+ attested languages out there, only a tiny subset of which get to even be acknowledged in the laws of relevant jurisdictions, let alone being dominant/national languages.

And, little nitpick, the problem you mention about Africa extends to the whole of global South.

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

@johl @seachaint this is the absolute worst and I don’t understand how it continues to perpetuate

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

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