W3C working across multiple languages

W3C is working only in English? Not only … W3C is also gathering knowledge from local communities, allowing experts to contribute in their native language.

A good example for this effort is the Japanese Layout Taskforce, a joint task force between the CSS, i18n Core, SVG and XSL groups. The goal of the task force is the creation of a document about requirements for Japanese layout realized with technologies like CSS, SVG or XSL-FO. A unique feature is the working language of the task force: it is Japanese, with mailing lists and translations into English for non-Japanese participants.

This is clearly an experiment, but a good step towards crossing language and culture boundaries in (Web) standardization.

2 thoughts on “W3C working across multiple languages

  1. Felix, thanks for sharing about this experiment, I agree this is a very interesting step in making W3C more international.

    What would you say is the biggest challenge in keeping such a language-specific task force in touch with the larger Web community? Is it mostly a question of finding the resources for translation?

  2. Hi Olivier, many thanks for your comment! The challenge boils down to what you said, that is finding the resources for translation. There are issues which can emerge from this, that this from not having constant translations available (people have a day job and cannot always check the various mailing lists / documents for new information which might need translation): English participants might not be sure what happens to the feedback their provide, or non-English participants might work and make decisions “on their own” and loose contact to the rest of the group. Translations into English might be partial and hard to understand without the context of the complete (not yet translated) document. Finally, people’s opinion about how to reach consensus might differ: should there be a one way approach of “Text creation in original language > English translation > feedback from English participants > correction”, or should English speakers also take the lead some times and make proposals which the non-English speakers “just implement” in the non-English version?

    Having said that I think a solution to these problems is to make people aware of them and set expectations about the working mode and work progress right. Which I hope to have done above;)

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