Andrey (azangru) wrote,

This is the level of reasoning. Really.

Speaker: If we search for "delicious food", what images do you think of in your mind — is it sushi, burritos, pizza, dumplings, curry? These are all delicious foods, and I look at them and I think that many of us would agree that having a variety is very important, and delicious, and good. And, you know, sometimes spicy, sometimes sweet — this wide variety of foods makes the world delicious, right? And many of us would be unhappy eating only one bland same food forever. So I ask, why are we building apps with just one language? (link)

I'll tell you why we are building apps with just one language. Because it's simpler. Simpler means fewer bugs. Simpler means fewer problems with designs that need to account for varying and fundamentally unpredictable widths and heights of elements, or for different text directions. Simpler means no translators, or translation managers, or translation processes that need to be integrated with development processes. Simpler means smaller bundle size, because you don't need an internationalization library; and less headache with figuring out how to code split properly and not to pull translations in unnecessary languages into your bundle. Simpler means more robust application. Simpler is good!

I still remember with a shudder an experience I had with an internationalized site at my previous job, when Google failed, while indexing our pages, to fetch translation strings properly. Although it was getting properly rendered pages from the server, it was waiting (smart as it now is) for the the client-side script to complete its execution while at the same time blocking its requests to our api for localization strings. The panicked script mangled our pages replacing properly rendered text with raw keys for internationalization strings, and in that broken state the pages got indexed in Google. And once indexed by Google, god only knows how long it will take Google to discover and index the page again. Especially if a site has hundreds of thousands of them.

So yeah. Pretending that languages are anything like delicious foods, where you can sample a bit of Chinese for breakfast, then have a hearty German for lunch, and then feast on delicious Italian for supper, with snacks of Hindi, and Swahili fruits, is absurd.

Another slide followed:

Speaker: This is a map, from UNESCO, of linguistic diversity; and each dot represents a language that is in danger on earth. And I think by enabling different languages and different language users to really use and navigate our apps in their native mother tongues — it's good for the world.

The metaphor of endangered languages, which likens them to endangered species, is misleading; but even so, why is it "good for the world" to enable different language users to use apps in their native tongues rather than, say, in their second language?

The only reasonable argument for internationalization that I can see is that an internationalized app may be commercially more successful. Or that there may be some legal requirements that made, say, CDC translate their site into Spanish. But she is not making this argument!

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