FYI France

File 3: Ejournal and archive

by Jack Kessler,

November 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 November 15, 2012 -- and, a little later, on, and at Facebook-Jack Kessler's Notes

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Versions of the following have appeared online regularly, since 1992, as a feature of the FYI France ejournal, ISSN 1071-5916, which is distributed for free via email every month except August. Ejournal subscriptions may be obtained via email request to:

Here this file is one of a number made available -- hopefully attractively, all in one place, and relevant to libraries and online digital information work in France and Europe -- as part of FYI France (sm)(tm), an online service to which anyone can subscribe for 12 months by postal mailing a check for US $45, payable to Jack Kessler, to PO Box 460668, San Francisco, California, USA 94146 (site licenses also are available): please write your email address on the front of your check. And you can pay via PayPal, on the FYI France homepage:

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FYI France : multilingual cyberespace


Revisiting a book published last Spring -- -- herewith recent news and debate about that interesting work, plus some others -- again my translations of postings by Hervé Le Crosnier --

> Hello,

> Last Spring, C&F éditions published the book,

> Net.lang : réussir le cyberespace multilingue [Net.lang : succeeding in multilingual cyberspace]

> -- a product of the Maaya Network, the book was coordinated by Laurent Vannini and Hervé Le Crosnier --

> The book was supported by L'union Latine, l'UNESCO, la Francophonie, le CRDI (Canada) and l'ANLoc (Afrique du Sud). We assembled over thirty articles from language specialists, all over the world, evaluating the effect of the Internet upon the promotion and preservation of threatened languages.

> A reference work, Net.langue covers:

> The book Net.lang will be presented, with the assistance of most of its authors, during the,

> Troisième symposium international sur le multilinguisme dans le cyberespace [Third International Symposium on Multilingualism in Cyberspace]

> -- which will be held from November 21 to 23 at,

Amphithéâtre Marie Curie
3, rue Michel-Ange

> Presentation and inscription form:

> This book was the subject of a debate which took place May 3 at the Maison de l'Interdisciplinarité, Institut des Sciences de la Communication of the CNRSi. The first videos of that encounter now are available on the video link of C&F éditions on YouTube:

> The book is available as follows:

> Sincèrement,

> Hervé Le Crosnier




Note by JK:

Multilingual access remains one of the Nets' greatest challenges. Since the earliest days of ASCII -- before Microsoft ASCII and IBM ASCII and Extended ASCII, ISO 8859-1, countless other flavors... -- the digital world has had a hard time with accents aigus, composing things "comme ca" or "comme c,a" and only recently "comme ça" -- and even now, in 2012, someone somewhere will write to me complaining that the last did not render well on her particular interface.

And no one, anywhere, has begun to tackle the "grey literature" problem in this: still only available in English, and that incomprehensible to even a native speaker, are all the instruction manuals and shrinkwrap agreements -- adhesion contracts, those used to be called, and they were illegal then for public policy reasons still valid now -- and sales blurbs, and unhelpful Help pages and Userblogs and wikis, which beset so much of technology's worlds.

And now, joy, we have voice interfaces, all of them struggling mightily with even regional accents in a single language: so now it's not even enough that a user must speak the supposedly-primary argot, s/he must carefully avoid anything which smacks of Mississippi or Alabama, or Maine, or Cockney or Breton or la Dordogne, in addressing such systems. But the customer is king, designers will discover that their systems must change to suit the users, not the other way around.

It's not a perfect world. We were naive, in the beginnings -- until the updates really get updated, for all users everywhere & instantaneously, and until all commercial vendors get together and stay together on these things, and perhaps until innovation stands still -- these things will continue to change, underlying encodings alter, improvements cause anomalies, users complain that their accents aigus "look funny".

This may be a Good Thing. Harry Truman's, "Show me an efficient government and I'll show you a dictatorship", applies also to technology -- we need innovation, creativity, change -- commercial markets, like electoral campaigns, do not "abhor" uncertainty, they thrive upon it.

But if we are to retain our democracy, our variety, the flexibilities and fluidity which keep our lives exciting and productive, we must anticipate mistakes, anomalies, user complaints, incongruities -- and languages which "look funny" on-screen. No the Entire World is not going to speak English, or know how to -- Umberto Eco described some of the folly in that very wish in his The Search for a Perfect Language (1997), and there have been other eloquent warnings -- so we might as well get used to, and even enjoy, the variety.




Intrepid publisher C&F éditions again, then: notes on three of their other books of interest here, again translated by me --





So, the Outside View: people in France, and elsewhere, presenting and discussing and debating ideas which, to us in the US and the anglophone world generally, may look very strange and very foreign.

Because they are... The question being, in our rapidly-globalizing world, whether the isolated island "cut off by fog" is them, or us?

Bonne lecture,


Jack Kessler,






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