“Los Angeles County is urging its citizens to vote, vota, bumoto or hay bo phieu. In fact, residents there will have seven languages to choose from when they cast their ballots on Election Day: English, Spanish, Tagalog, Vietnamese, Chinese, Japanese and Korean.”
Boy is this a contentious issue these days – whether or not to translate ballots. According to this Newsday article Los Angeles requires translation of ballots into seven languages, although most places don’t make it past two.
A lot of people would rather that there be no translation of ballots, which, the thinking goes, would force non-English speakers to learn the language. But I don’t agree. Even if you desperately want to learn a new language, getting to fluency takes years of hard work, and even then you find yourself missing out on many subtleties. But I’m hopeful that computer-based balloting will provide the solution to this problem – eliminating the need to print translated ballots while providing the ability to present ballots in any number of languages. At least that’s my hope…
Just when you begin to think that the Internet has become a way of life for the planet, you read a few Internet usage stats from Nua. According to the folks at Nua, just less than 10% of the world’s population has access to the Internet.
“At the end of May 2002, approximately 580.78 million people around the world had access to the Net, up from 407.1 million in December 2000.”
The Internet is still very much a country club with restricted membership.
And while this is sad, I’m excited to see that the makeup of the membership is changing. For starters, Americans aren’t the majority any longer:
“For the first time ever, Europe has the highest number of people with access to the Internet. There are now 185.83 million Europeans online, compared to 182.3 million in the US and Canada and 167.86 million in Asia/Pacific.”
For more stats, click here.
Living in the U.S., it’s easy to take a one-sided view of globalization, where U.S. companies expand into foreign markets. But globalization cuts both ways, and I always love to see foreign companies take on U.S. multinationals on their home turf. For example, how will KFC handle Pollo Campero now that it has gone local?
Polo Campero is a Guatemalan fast food chain that just opened its first U.S. branch in Los Angeles. You can read the NY Times article here.
For a very good overview of the challenges of overcoming our current locales dilemma, check out Tex Texin’s presentation from the recent Unicode conference. I’m not sure there is going to be an locales solution that pleases everyone. But we do need to do a better job of tagging content than just “fr_ca” or “en_us.”
A good article about Japanese culture (and American ignorance) in the NY Times.