Walt Whitman: I Sing of Myself in Nine Languages

Walt Whitman

I came across a great resource on Walt Whitman’s epic poem Song of Myself.

Walt Whitman Song of Myself

This website intends to present Whitman’s poem in its entirety, along with commentary, in an impressive nine languages. It is the product of a partnership between the International Writing Program and the Walt Whitman Archive at the University of Iowa. The poem is being published in weekly increments (they’re currently up to section 10 of 52).

Even if you’re no fan of Whitman (and I forgive you), if you’re interested in web globalization, give the website a look. It’s very well done.

Here’s a screen shot of the same web page above now displayed in Russian:

Walt Whitman in Russian

The tab structure allows you to change languages on the fly, but never allowing you to lose sight of your own language — something often overlooked on Fortune 100 websites.

Creating a multilingual website doesn’t have to be complicated.

  1. Make the languages easy to find.
  2. Present the language names in the actual languages.
  3. Allow users to easily change languages if needed.

This website does well on all three accounts.

And now I leave you with this, the beginning of this great poem…

I CELEBRATE myself, and sing myself,
And what I assume you shall assume,
For every atom belonging to me as good belongs to you.

 

English-only multinationals are a bad idea

You can decree that the employees of your company speak only English.

You can train everyone.

You can test everyone.

And you can get everyone to speak English in meetings, just as you mandated.

But be careful what you wish for.

Just because everyone speaks English doesn’t mean everyone is communicating.

Doesn’t mean everyone is comfortable.

And, most importantly, doesn’t mean people are as effective as they want to be.

The fact is, global companies have been around for centuries and they somehow figured out how to function with many shared languages.

As this Harvard Business School article points out, the rise of “Englishnization” is causing problems in the workplace.

Windows 8 primed to win tablet war — at least in languages

When it comes to tablets, Apple is far and away the leader.

But later this year Microsoft is expected to unveil its Windows 8 tablet and, in doing so, will quickly take the lead.

In languages, that is.

That’s right. Microsoft recently announced that Windows 8 will support a whopping 105 languages (and I’m assuming this includes the new Metro interface).

This is impressive, particularly when you compare it against Apple iOS, which supports a paltry 34 languages. (Android 4.0 is at 57 languages.)

We are getting into slightly murky waters when we compare Windows 8 with iOS, because Windows 8 is for both PCs and mobile devices; Apple’s iOS is strictly for phones and tablets. But since phones and tablets are where the growth is globally, Microsoft’s investment in languages is smart and Apple’s relative frugality is short-sighted.

I’ll be curious to see how Apple responds with its updated OS later this year. And not just with its OS.

Can we finally see an Apple website in, say, Arabic or Hebrew?

I think it’s time.