FYI France

File 3: Ejournal and archive

by Jack Kessler,

March 15, 2012 issue. This file presents an archive copy of the issue of the FYI France ejournal, ISSN 1071-5916, which was distributed via email on March 15, 2012 - and, a little later, on, and at Facebook-Jack Kessler's Notes

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Multilingualism in an epub... what in *&%##!!@!* is an epub?... I'll have a pint...


The new book announced below, by C&F Éditions of Caen in France, describes the very old problem of multilingual access -- albeit in some of its latest online-digital, forms. And the book itself appears in some of the latest online-digital formats: so latest, in fact, that I and many others now are spending our days and some nights trying to figure out how they work...

Multilingual access was the beginning, of my own efforts online here: as I've mentioned, a certain Michael Hart and I plus lots of others all discussed, long ago, whether in online text the French language ought to be depicted "comme ca", or "comme c,a" -- and we both wondered whether it ever would reach the point of appearing "comme ça".

Now that we are there, though, it seems there are even more issues, multilingual access has blossomed: it never has been a mere matter of extended ASCII character sets -- neither of us fooled ourselves, or one another, into believing that -- now comes a book, from Hervé Le Crosnier and his energetic teams at C&F, which elaborates the full panoply of 21st c. multilingual issues and confusions, and they are numerous. Hopefully there is light, here.

Hervé's announcement: [tr. JK] --




> March 4, 2012 3:10 PM

> Salut,

> The latest offspring of C&F éditions is a book devoted to multilingualism, and particularly to the condition of languages on the Internet.

> Net.langue : how to succeed in multilingual cyberspace

> 27 authors and as many articles, evaluating the evolution of languages on the information network, the capacity of technologies to aid in the maintenance, even the revitalization, of languages which are in danger, and to debate the ramifications of multilateral / transnational politics and of the global inclusion of multi-lingualism.

> Net.lang is published under the ægis of the "association internationale Maaya". It is edited by Laurent Vannini and Hervé Le Crosnier. The translators -- from English to French, but also the reverse, the original articles having been received in both languages, and the book appearing now simultaneously in French and in English -- have played a significant role in crafting the final product. They are: Laura Kraftowitz, John Rosbottom, Laurent Vannini, Francisca Cabrera and Alexandre Mussely.

> Initial lesson: dominant today, English is losing ground on the Nets, returning to its normal scale of nearly-equal shares of web pages in English and users of English. English will not be the lingua franca of the Internet and, even more significant, an "economics of languages" has pushed "translation" to the fore as the true language of the Nets.

> Normative efforts in standardization as in digital text, in its written forms but also spoken and signed (sign language for the deaf), enable communication in the digital world comparable to the linguistic complexity of the real world.

> The Net.lang book is supported and made possible thanks to several international institutions: UNESCO, la Francophonie, the Union Latine, l'ANLoc in South Africa and the CRDI of Canada. Personnel of these institutions have reviewed the publication of this book.

> The book is published simultaneously in French and in English. The articles are published under a Creative Commons by-sa (Attribution -- Share-Alike) license, to facilitate translations-to-come in all languages of interest to any editors.

> Finally, Net.lang is available in both digital and print versions. The digital versions -- currently in pdf, and soon in ePub -- are distributed free-of-charge on the site

> Orders for the print version, in French or in English, as always are possible at bookstores and on the website of C&F éditions,

> Happy reading

> Hervé Le Crosnier




Net.langue : how to succeed in multilingual cyberspace

Table of Contents

* Forewords

Irina Bokova, General Director, Unesco
Abdou Diouf, General Secretary, La Francophonie
José Luis Dicenta, General Secretary, Union Latine
Dwayne Bailey, Research Director, ANLoc
Daniel Prado, Executive Secretary, Maaya Network

* Part 1 -- When Technology Meets Multilingualism

Daniel Prado
Language Presence in the Real World and Cyberspace

Michaël Oustinoff
English Won't Be the Internet's Lingua Franca

Éric Poncet
Technological Innovation and Language Preservation

Maik Gibson
Preserving the Heritage of Extinct or Endangered Languages

Marcel Diki-Kidiri
Cyberspace and Mother Tongue Education

* Part 2 -- Digital Spaces

Stéphane Bortzmeyer
Multilingualism and the Internet's Standardisation

Mikami Yoshiki & Shigeaki Kodama
Measuring Linguistic Diversity on the Web

Joseph Mariani
How Language Technologies Support Multilingualism

Vassili Rivron
The Use of Facebook by the Eton of Cameroon

Pann Yu Mon & Madhukara Phatak
Search Engines and Asian Languages

Hervé Le Crosnier
Digital Libraries

Dwayne Bailey
Software Localization: Open Source as a Major Tool for Digital Multilingualism

Mélanie Dulong De Rosnay
Translation and Localization of Creative Commons Licenses

* Part 3 -- Digital Multilingualism: Building Inclusive Societies

Viola Krebs & Vicent Climent-Ferrando
Languages, Cyberspace, Migrations

Annelies Braffort & Patrice Dalle
Accessibility in Cyberspace: Sign Languages

Tjeerd de Graaf
How Oral Archives Benefit Endangered Languages

Evgeny Kuzmin
Linguistic Policies to Counter : Languages Marginalization

Tunde Adegbola
Multimedia and Signed, Written or Oral Languages

Adel El Zaim
Cyberactivism and Regional Languages in the 2011 Arab Spring

Adama Samassékou
Multilingualism, the Millenium Development Goals, and Cyberspace

* Part 4 -- Multilingualism on the Internet : A Multilateral Issue

Isabella Pierangeli Borletti
Describing the World: Multilingualism, the Internet, and Human Rights

Stéphane Bortzmeyer
Multilingualism and Internet Governance

Marcel Diki-Kidiri
Ethical Principles Required for an Equitable Language Presence in the Information Society

Stéphane Grumbach
The Internet in China

Michaël Oustinoff
The Economy of Languages

Daniel Prado & Daniel Pimienta
Public Policies for Languages in Cyberspace

* Conclusion

Adama Samassékou, President of Maaya
The Future speaks, reads, and writes, in all languages




And a note:

NISO just treated me and I guess many others -- yesterday, for an hour and a half -- to a fascinating Webinar introduction to the immense efforts now pouring into the new & exciting & for-some-distressing "ebook" --

-- and I see that Hervé and his team(s) as described above are issuing their new text in the following formats --

-- and, covering-all-contingencies -- there assuredly will be other new formats coming... KF9?... -- C&F adds --

So: is all of this nowadays what we must do, to "publish"?

It makes the bad-old / good-old days of print(only)-publishing sound simple...

Are "print" and "pdf", and "KF8" (Kindle) and "Epub3" (everybody else, for now), plus dozens of similar abbreviations and mnemonics for supporting and affiliated formats -- HTML5 and MPEG and OEB and CSS3 and JavaScript, SVG, DublinCore, MathML, OpenType & WOFF, Media Overlays, Ruby, ONIX & CNI & PLS & SSML -- and, yes, even something called MARC... -- all really necessary, just to "spread the word", nowadays?

And for an editor in Caen wishing to reach readers in California, now, is all this really to be mastered? More English-only "instruction manuals" to puzzle through, then... which we all now know from long experience mostly are unreadable to even a native-speaker of that language, much less to someone saddled with a non-English linguistic structure, and maybe working laboriously via GoogleTranslate... you say "potato" and I say "potato"...

'Sounds like a lot. 'Sounds, too, as though regional and commercial variations -- the former called "nationalism", the latter "product differentiation" -- will be having a field-day with all of this -- thousands of local "varieties", "flavors", aggressively and sometimes belligerently-competing "products" & "services"...


I remember sort-of-fondly that we had flavors of ASCII, long ago: first came "just plain ASCII" -- the then-new digital world's equivalent of Henry Ford's famous, "You can have any color you want as long as it's 'black'" -- then came "extended ASCII", and strange things like "IBM ASCII" and "Microsoft ASCII". Later on the Internet folks brought us TCP/IP & OSI, and the US / European "protocol wars" between the two: which TCP/IP won, in case that's at all unclear to anyone now.

So this same embarrassment-of-riches variety again descends upon us -- or explodes around us, like a cluster-bomb or minefield -- just the way it did back in the late-80s and early-90s.

The maelstrom had a good result, back then, and this one can have a good result this time too. Per the above links, NISO in the US, and its opposite numbers overseas, once again boldly are trying to pull these things together, to create the much-valued "invisibility" which characterizes truly-successful technologies -- the theory being, certainly in telecoms, that if you can see it then it's complicated... For users, that's true: few of them want to know how the thing works, they just want to drive it -- so to get us there we need format integrations, standards normalization, some degree of uniformity.

But the very forces bringing innovation to us now work against that normalization, as well: a commercial firm must do "product differentiation" -- show how its particular widget or technique is better than and therefore different from that of Apple, or Amazon, or Google or any other competitor -- so the firms both want and don't want everything to look the same, it's an ongoing tug-of-war, among one another and with the "standards" bodies and also internally -- it's the "development" war, in which the hope is that nobody ever really wins, because then the process would stop and all would lose.

I'm not sure how understood this process is, overseas. I know many in France who understand but do not embrace it. In other places I have friends who simply do not comprehend: it's expensive, they tell me, a small or poor nation or economy cannot afford the vast amounts needed for such duplicative R&D -- "First industrial innovation, then standardization, then more innovation which invalidates that? The sheer inefficiency of it...", they say, "the waste".

"Yes, but look at the results", Americans reply, "they make the risks worth running." I hope so. We got our Internet, and now The World has it too. So perhaps an Epub standard will do the same, for ebooks, as TCP/IP and others have done for networking -- one approach, rather than the acronym-chaos now reigning. Or maybe that single standard becomes the, "One ring to rule them all... and in the darkness bind them." I hope not. Not that last, anyway...

For now it looks as though there's little danger, of either too much chaos or becoming too narrow: normalization is proceeding steadily, and the untamed lions still are healthily out-there but at least are collared and less-destructive than before -- Amazon's Kindle(tm) still doesn't speak "standard ebook", so well, but Apple's iBook(tm) does, and apparently Google's books do too.

I can't help wondering, however, whether there is some format somewhere in China slowly awakening, and stretching, before it languidly arises and sets out, its hour come round at last, slouching toward Bethlehem to be born?

For it's the Chinese, not the Americans, who will be the readers and text-producers before this century is through: "Ruby" apparently can arrange characters in columns, in an ebook... -- that and much more will be needed and, per this C&F Éditions book about things-multilingual, I can't help thinking that the eventual standards and even the innovations will have to come from China, too.


Jack Kessler,






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