WWW and non-English -> i18n

Richard L. Goerwitz (goer@midway.uchicago.edu)
Tue, 27 Sep 1994 04:16:24 +0100

>> What ideas have been floated along the lines of making the Web more all-
>> encompassing, linguistically speaking?
>A very important matter here is the choice of language:
> (1) in the client
> (2) in the documents
>For (1) we must urge the client developers to make their
>program internationalized - preferably through the standardized
>"i18n" methods. Some work is being done for at least Mosaic (in
>Germany and in Sweden), but apparently not in cooperation with
>the developing team, with all the disadvantages that entails.

As I understand i18n, it is not suitable for anything we should
be envisioning for WWW. It is not a multilingual standard,
but a method for helping software developers localize their sys-
tems. The distinction here is critical. Localization is the
process of gearing a package for one specific locale. This is
not a method for generalizing display methods for multilingual

However, let me add that Motif supposedly has code for bidirec-
tional text widgets. That is, it can theoretically handle text that
includes right-left and left-right wordwrapping text. So, for
example, you could write a bilingual Arabic-English or Hebrew-
English dictionary, and expect to find facilities there for
quoting both languages in the same document (same entry, in

I should emphasize, though, that I am not a Motif programmer,
and I am told that the code described above was ifdef'd out
in the current distribution because it wasn't considered fully
debugged. The next release may have it enabled. I also know
nothing about mixed up-down and right-left or left-right lang-