The language quiz

The whole world is getting on the web. Most people out there use English as the Web language – there is just no other way, if you care about the size of your audience and the quality of search engine results around your web site.

But there are still those who provide content for single language speaking non-American visitors. Why should you care? I don’t know. Probably you shouldn’t. Unless you speak the language. Or unless they write something about you.

Enough with the introductory rumblings. Here is what happened. One of the foreign language blogs wrote something about my WordPress Bits project. Obviously, that’s something I’d want to understand, even if roughly and partially.

The problem is that I can’t quite figure out the language it is written in. And both Google Translate and Altavista BabelFish ask me to pick both the source and target languages to do the translation. While the target one is not a problem – I can make sense of English, Russian, and even a bit of Greek and German. But I don’t know which is the source language.

That happened to me before a few times, but I could always figure it out using secondary hints, such the location of the server (by IP address) or by the domain name of the web site. In this case though, I am somewhat lost – the server is hosted in the USA and the domain is a regular .com .

Gladly, the WHOIS record of the domain suggested a relationship with Rio De Janeiro, Brazil. The Wikipedia page confirmed that the language spoken over their is Portugues, and, suddenly, BabelFish is a useful tool again.

Its blog uses WordPress as brain and after some time you simply tired of only personalizing its blog using plugins and existing subjects. If it does not despair. Blog is possible to personalize its still more learning as it functions. The best one to make it is to have access always blog WordPress Bits and to implement some of the tips that are published.

Good enough for me.

Resume. Feature request: guess the source language, especially if it’s one of the supported languages. Leave an option for the user to select, but do the hard stuff automatically. Especially, judging by the results of the wrongly selected language – it would be trivial. Most of the content won’t get translated and will remain the same. Anyway, if someone figured out who to do automatic translations for so many languages, I guess picking the right source language is an easy thing to do.

4 thoughts on “The language quiz”


  1. hi there Leonid! I am glad that you figured out that my blog is written in Portuguese. Unfortunately online translation still sucks if you write using slang and some idiomatic expressions that are not yet implemented in the translation database.

    I used to have a translation button that would offer the “easy-one-click-to-english-translation”, but as my visitors are mainly from Brazil and Portugal, it turned out to be more an annoyance for the regular reader than an useful feature for those who do not speak Portuguese.

    I see your point and I agree that these online translation tools should at least guess the language by its content or by other means as you figured out.

    I hope you understood by the horrible translation that I only wrote good things about your project. WordPress bits is a good source for learning more about wordpress and a great help for those who need to customize and tweak it for pleasure!

    Keep up the good work.

    Cheers from Brazil! ;-)
    PS: I hope my english is understandable, even not being my “native language”.


  2. bernabauer,

    yes, I understood that you wrote the nice stuff. Thanks :)

    I am a bit familiar with maintaining non-English web sites, as my original language is Russian and I had a couple of blogs using that.

    P.S.: and you English is just fine! :)


  3. Patrick,

    thanks. Cool tool! I played around with it a bit and it seems to do good. Although I got “Bulgarian” instead of “Russian”, but that’s like an edge case -- the encoding is the same and the writing is very similar.

Leave a Comment