Language is Politics

by Michael S. Kaplan, published on 2007/02/09 02:55 -05:00, original URI:

Need proof? N3188 kind of proves the point....

Nick Lamb on 9 Feb 2007 10:42 AM:

That isn't about language, it's about Taiwan. It would have been the same for any other technical group, regardless of the subject matter.

If you want an example of language as politics, it suffices to notice that Vista is available in Welsh but not in British or Austrlian English.

Michael S. Kaplan on 9 Feb 2007 11:47 AM:

Sorry Nick, the non-US English issue is a real one, but it is not politics. The reasons are more financially motivated, in several senses (a good future blog topic, actually!).

Mike on 9 Feb 2007 12:01 PM:

I sometimes wonder if such financial motivations are to "deliberately lose business". I know companies that have completely replaced Windows networks because of US English continually hammering their local English settings. It's also not hard to find the bad press that Microsoft generates in educational institutions because of it. It's pouring oil on the flames of open source & anti-Microsoft rhetoric in these halls.

I think there's also a combination of ignorance and language vigilantry going on within MS walls. Ignorance, because even people within Windows division believe that other English-speaking locales get their own localised versions of products. Vigilantry, because some think it would be a good idea to stamp out dialect/orthography differences between these locales. I don't talk out of my arse (that's ass to North Americans) on these subjects, because I have probably sat in on a greater variety of linguistically-sensitive product discussions in various divisions than most. I didn't know whether to be outraged or appalled half the time.

Whatever MS motivations are (and they may not even be coherent or intentional), it IS politics, not just people with "cute" accents in a tizz.

Michael S. Kaplan on 9 Feb 2007 12:14 PM:

Well, it is not politics in the sense of the issue that the post was about.

And, since I have promised to post about the non-US English issue soon including my thoughts on the reasons (which are finanicial in the licesning, budget, and resources senses, even though I think they are a bad idea in the long run anyway) and am really not interested in post subject matter hijackiing, I am going to moderate all future comments that try to steer to this completely unrelated topic.

If you feel a strong need to post about that issue and cannot wait, then please open your own blog and post all you like about it.


Mike Dimmick on 9 Feb 2007 12:27 PM:

If, as proposed, the meeting were moved to the PRC, would representatives from RoC (Taiwan) be able to attend? If meetings are held outside both countries to solve this issue, does that offend the sensitivities massaged by the rotation of hosting among members of the IRI?

I can see this being a major difficulty for a rapporteur group whose responsibility covers both Simplified Chinese (mainly used in PRC) and Traditional Chinese (Taiwan a major user).

Mike Dimmick on 9 Feb 2007 12:28 PM:

Sorry, for IRI read IRG. I'd just read your URI/IRI article and got it stuck in my head!

Michael S. Kaplan on 9 Feb 2007 12:35 PM:

Yes, China is happy to host everyone.

In the long run I'd rather China would be simply unable to attend those meetings, though I doubt that is practical....

ReallyEvilCanine on 10 Feb 2007 8:47 PM:

And just how would US delegates respond for a conference held in Cuba?

Michael S. Kaplan on 10 Feb 2007 9:08 PM:

Well, two answers to that:

1) There is a formal block on trade there, which there is not for Taiwan, at least not officially. This is the actual problem -- the claim of peace and then the hostility that is being shown when thast "peace" is believed?

2) I am unaware of a specific conference that would be held in Cuba on the basis of implicit expertise. I am sure there probably is one, but it is not (AFAIK) about character encoding in any case.

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