Nabil M. El-Khodari (,
« Is multilingualism important to Canada ? »,
message envoyé à
30 janvier 1997
reproduit par François-Pierre Gingras,
2 octobre 1997

Date sent: Thu, 30 Jan 1997 18:38:47 -0500
From: "Nabil M. El-Khodari (FITS)" <>
Organization: Falcon International Telecommunication/Translation Services
Subject: Is multilingualism important to Canada?
Send reply to:

Michael Nixon wrote:
> I think there is an advantage to having one language dominant in web
> pages. At a glance, any given browser could read it.. Really.. English
> _is_ quite dominant because it has to be. Microsoft, one of, if not the,
> largest software companies is an English-based company. So the
> instructions that come with a computer, or new web-brower software are
> most likely to be in English...
> Other languages do have their place for showing cultural ideas and such,
> but English probably has a larger place online..

It is and will always remain so, even the character sets in UNICODE.
e.g. 8895/6 (which is Arabic) allows you to write in both Latin and
Arabic. So, English will remain 'dominant'. The assertion that any
browser can read it depends mainly on the document type that informs the
browser what language the page is written in. Of course, some browsers,
e.g. MS Internet Explorer (US version) does not recognize all languages.
However, Netscape 4 promises to deliver this.

Describing a culture in English is different than say presenting arts
(e.g. poetry, etc.) in the language it is written for. For 'artistic'
purposes, some people consider, say French, is more capable of conveying
the meaning than the English translation. I think same applies for many
other types of expression.

The point is, multilingualism on the WWW to the 'humanist', is as
important as say 'biological diversity' to the environmentalist.

We may be able to agree on one or two things:

- The Canadian multiculturalism is different than the American system of
'melting cultures'. As such multilingualism must be preserved when
discussing 'Canadian' public space.

- Multilingualism has the potential of increasing trade between Canada
and other countries.

- Canada has a role to play in that 'leading' role for the whole world,
as actually it has been doing, e.g. (a Canadian
company leading the way in multilingual internet software).

- Multilingualism is essential for certain Canadian communities, e.g.
French- and Chinese-speaking communities, that do preserve their
language by having almost exclusive 'communities'.

Nabil M. El-Khodari HTML Writers Guild
Web designer Software Contractors' Guild Tel.: (416) 762-5135 Fax.: (416) 762-3490
President, FITS (Falcon International Teleco./Translation Services)

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