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Does MeFi have a policy on non-English language posts?
June 17, 2012 9:11 AM   Subscribe

Does MeFi have a policy on non-English language posts? I thought it was odd to see a post that only French-speaking members could really understand or participate in since no English translation of the poem was given.
posted by timsneezed to Etiquette/Policy at 9:11 AM (152 comments total)

We don't have any real policy, no. For basic demographic and logistical reasons the common language here is obviously English and it's a given from there that the vast majority of posts and comments are in English, but there's no rule per se against posts or discussion in other languages and now and then we see a post that reflects that. As a now-and-then thing it's really not a problem; if it became a sort of aggressively-pursued running theme that'd be a different situation but it's never gone there.

I think that generally speaking providing some (even if very minimal) English-language framing for a non-English-language post is the simplest way to reduce the potential friction it might otherwise encounter. It makes sense to accommodate the majority readership of the site a little bit if you don't want to have to deal with a perception of stuntiness.
posted by cortex (staff) at 9:18 AM on June 17, 2012 [1 favorite]


I'm an English speaking American who reads French. My guess is that the education level on MeFi is such that a near majority of mefites read reasonably well in at least two languages, and some of us consider minimal French literacy pretty much normal.

If you don't understand it, it's no different than a post about a style of music you don't like. Move on, forget about it, use Google translate, or learn a little basic French.
posted by spitbull at 9:19 AM on June 17, 2012 [20 favorites]


Meant to say that multilingualism is something I cherish about MeFi, and I'd be happy to see it more prominently woven into the site culture. It's such a relief, for those of us in the US at least, to be able to assume literacy doesn't stop at the edges of the OED.

But as th old joke goes, "if English was good enough for Jesus Christ, it's good enough for me!"
posted by spitbull at 9:23 AM on June 17, 2012 [4 favorites]


I don't speak any French but am enjoying / learning from the discussion.
posted by mikepop at 9:24 AM on June 17, 2012 [1 favorite]


I agree that multilingualism is good but I feel like it's unfair to post material that the majority of readers will not be able to understand without a translation of some kind.
posted by timsneezed at 9:26 AM on June 17, 2012 [4 favorites]


Why is it unfair? I skip posts I don't understand (in English) all the time, and don't feel unfairly excluded as a result.
posted by spitbull at 9:28 AM on June 17, 2012 [35 favorites]


But as th old joke goes, "if English was good enough for Jesus Christ, it's good enough for me!"

Hah! That's great.

I love this! I would hate if English were a requirement for posting. I think we should absolutely allow posts in other languages!
posted by two lights above the sea at 9:31 AM on June 17, 2012 [2 favorites]


Why is it unfair? I skip posts I don't understand (in English) all the time, and don't feel unfairly excluded as a result.

I don't think I've ever seen a post on MeFi that I didn't understand. Even if it was about a topic I was unfamiliar with, there was still enough context given for there to be some point of entry.
posted by timsneezed at 9:34 AM on June 17, 2012


When I see something in a foreign language here without a translation, I assume that too much is lost in the translation to provide one.
posted by Ardiril at 9:38 AM on June 17, 2012 [2 favorites]


C'est la vida loca
posted by found missing at 9:38 AM on June 17, 2012 [1 favorite]


Yeah, there's a difference between a post about a topic you may not already be familiar with, and a post that is straight-up inaccessible (except perhaps in mangled computer translation or, in the case of audio, not even that) to the majority of people reading the site.

If someone were to post an impenetrable academic paper that could only be understood by econ Ph.D.s, with no context to help the lay reader, it would probably be deleted.

I don't think most people reading this site "consider minimal French literacy pretty much normal."
posted by eugenen at 9:42 AM on June 17, 2012 [13 favorites]


My guess is that the education level on MeFi is such that a near majority of mefites read reasonably well in at least two languages

I kind of doubt this is true, although it would be pretty cool. I wonder if there's any way to find out. Maybe I'm just projecting my sad, deficient, unilingual Americanicity on everyone else.

Anyway, I don't see a problem with the occasional non-English post, though context is usually nice.
posted by brennen at 9:43 AM on June 17, 2012 [7 favorites]


It's different, we should reflexively kill it, just to be sure it won't infect us.

The point of this particular FPP seems to be that language of the majority is not all there is to communication and demanding that everyone speak denies the identity of other, presumably minority, populations. So the lack of an English translation fits, thematically.

Or, you know, the second link in the two word, two link post.
posted by Brandon Blatcher at 9:44 AM on June 17, 2012 [12 favorites]


I agree that multilingualism is good but I feel like it's unfair to post material that the majority of readers will not be able to understand without a translation of some kind.

You didn't really answer what makes a post like this unfair. Do you feel left out? Is it your contention that every post on the site should cater to all users of the site? If it isn't, if we admit that some posts are likely to cater to a subset of users, I'm not sure why language should be the bright line that separates acceptable vs. unacceptable distinctions between users.

I do feel that this is only an issue for front page posts. I think that a french language post in MeTa should be deleted since the de facto site language is English.
posted by OmieWise at 9:44 AM on June 17, 2012 [1 favorite]


If someone were to post an impenetrable academic paper that could only be understood by econ Ph.D.s, with no context to help the lay reader, it would probably be deleted.

Uh, why? It might be ignored, but why should it be deleted? What is the downside of such a post staying up?
posted by Dr Dracator at 9:45 AM on June 17, 2012 [3 favorites]


timsneezed I really don't see what your problem is, especially as right after your last comment in that thread killick linked to a translation. The more diverse metafilter becomes, a better place it will be. Even though 50% of the post was in French, those discussing it did so in English. My suggestion; get a passport and get out there.
posted by adamvasco at 9:49 AM on June 17, 2012 [1 favorite]


The point of this particular FPP seems to be that language of the majority is not all there is to communication and demanding that everyone speak denies the identity of other, presumably minority, populations. So the lack of an English translation fits, thematically.

Except that point is lost on non-French speakers without a translation, so as I pointed out in the discussion it's basically preaching to the choir.
posted by timsneezed at 9:49 AM on June 17, 2012


I will bet fewer MeFites were interested in my Runaways post (18 comments) than are interested in that French poem post (currently 34 comments).
posted by Ardiril at 9:51 AM on June 17, 2012 [1 favorite]


I may be wrong, but I bet you could get the gist of that poem without knowing a single word of French.

Here's a translation of Speak White into English.
posted by Killick at 9:51 AM on June 17, 2012


Except that point is lost on non-French speakers without a translation

timesneezed, did you read the linked article? It explains exactly that. In English.
posted by nobody at 9:52 AM on June 17, 2012 [14 favorites]


did you read the linked article? It explains exactly that. In English.

OK, this thread is over.
posted by Ardiril at 9:54 AM on June 17, 2012 [2 favorites]


I'm an English speaking American who reads French. My guess is that the education level on MeFi is such that a near majority of mefites read reasonably well in at least two languages

I also imagine this is not true at all, but I don't have a problem with posts not in English; a post entirely in French is no more or less meaningful to me than a post about football or video games, to be honest.
posted by kittens for breakfast at 9:54 AM on June 17, 2012 [14 favorites]


Le singe est sur la branche.
posted by homunculus at 9:55 AM on June 17, 2012 [4 favorites]


it's unfair to post material that the majority of readers will not be able to understand without a translation of some kind.

I dunno about "majority," but I don't understand the links in a fair number of programming/mathy fpps. Sometimes I skip those altogether, sometimes I read the comments and gain understanding from that, and sometimes I ask what I hope are not (but probably are) profoundly stupid questions and people answer them. It all works out.
posted by rtha at 9:56 AM on June 17, 2012 [2 favorites]


I barely speak English, but I love when someone posts in another language. Makees me realize there variety in the world.
posted by cjorgensen at 9:58 AM on June 17, 2012 [1 favorite]


Except that point is lost on non-French speakers without a translation, so as I pointed out in the discussion it's basically preaching to the choir.

Dude. Read the second link in the two word, two link post. I makes the post crystal clear, even if the language in the first isn't.

Sure, the post is about Canadians, always a distaste subject, but come on man. You've been lead to the water hole, now drink, if you truly are thirsty.
posted by Brandon Blatcher at 9:59 AM on June 17, 2012 [1 favorite]


I loved that post and I think that, of all the possible non-English language posts to complain about, complaining about that one achieves maximum irony.
posted by 256 at 10:04 AM on June 17, 2012 [21 favorites]


Your xenophobia is showing, love.
posted by Sternmeyer at 10:05 AM on June 17, 2012 [1 favorite]


My suggestion; get a passport and get out there.

Knock that crap off, please.
posted by Melismata at 10:05 AM on June 17, 2012 [10 favorites]


Also, listen to that first link again, with an open mind. Listen to it a few times. I bet you can get a lot out of it.
posted by 256 at 10:08 AM on June 17, 2012


I also imagine this is not true at all, but I don't have a problem with posts not in English; a post entirely in French is no more or less meaningful to me than a post about football or video games, to be honest.

Agreed. I’m not interested in a majority of the posts, I’m here for the other ones.
posted by bongo_x at 10:08 AM on June 17, 2012 [4 favorites]


Ardiril: "I will bet fewer MeFites were interested in my Runaways post (18 comments) than are interested in that French poem post (currently 34 comments)."

Maybe you should have posted this in your Runaways thread (which I am kicking myself that I missed the first time!):

Joan Jett - French Song
posted by SuperSquirrel at 10:09 AM on June 17, 2012 [1 favorite]


Only half the post was in French, with the other half being the English translation. That said, I don't mind other posts all in other languages. For me, it's a nice reminder that there's a wide world of things that are beyond my ken. I also don't think it's shameful to nicely ask other posters if they might want to assist with providing context, in the same way that people often do for posts about, like, EVE online or rainbow tables or whatever.
posted by Greg Nog at 10:21 AM on June 17, 2012


I don't think I've ever seen a post on MeFi that I didn't understand

Man, I see a few every day. "Understand" is a big word. I don't get gaming posts, or Dr. Who Posts, or any number of single link video posts that require me to click a mystery meat link to "understand," which I've said before I'm often unwilling to do. You aren't supposed to go into threads you don't "get" and say "this thread sucks because your favorite band sucks" or "gamers are idiots" or whatever. I agree that it's nice and appropriate for a post with non-English content to provide some English-language context, but no one is excluding you in particular for not reading some particular language any more than a post about programming languages is excluding those who have no idea what "PHP" or "C++" even is. And despite my relatively deep education (OK, I have a PhD in a branch of linguistics), there are plenty of posts where there are English language words I have not encountered before, especially scientific terms. They make dictionaries for that, you know?

Honestly, I'd love to see more non-English FPPs (with appropriate context and translation tools, of course, as a nice touch). It's a really big world, and most of its inhabitants don't speak or read English yet either.

Also, I'm not guessing the majority of MeFites are "bilingual" or more, but we do have a very high expectation of English language fluency here even from non-Anglophone MeFites, and it would be nice to indulge the occasional inversion of that. Maybe it's not a majority, but if you managed to get a college degree (and I do wonder whether a majority of MeFites have college degrees, is that a known statistic?) in the US or UK *without* learning to pick your way through a little French or Spanish text, I'd be surprised.

Maybe someday we'll have a front page post in an Inuit language -- perhaps I should undertake one (not sure if MeFi would support the relevant font character set). But even for most of those, there are online dictionaries and many other good resources.

Exploring outside your linguistic comfort zone is fun. It's a feature, not a bug.

Quyanaqpak!
posted by spitbull at 10:24 AM on June 17, 2012 [14 favorites]


>>and I do wonder whether a majority of MeFites have college degrees, is that a known statistic?

Dunno - when the MeFi census taker arrived at my door they pretty much just asked if I knew how to make those Zalgo characters.
posted by mintcake! at 10:27 AM on June 17, 2012


S̛҉p͡҉ȩa̵̷k̶̛ ̧̀w͞h̢͝i̷̢t͘e̷
posted by Greg Nog at 10:30 AM on June 17, 2012


I think the post in question is great, BTW.
posted by mintcake! at 10:30 AM on June 17, 2012


What spitbull said. Why not let the site be what the posters determine it will be, so long as they stay within the guidelines. I happened to understand most of that poem but I'd have no problem with posts in languages I don't understand. I'd just treat them the way I treat any other post that's not for me, like anything to do with superhero movies or comics.
posted by Decani at 10:31 AM on June 17, 2012


jatlh chIS
posted by Ardiril at 10:35 AM on June 17, 2012 [2 favorites]


Language, Timothy!

My guess is that the education level on MeFi is such that a near majority of mefites read reasonably well in at least two languages, and some of us consider minimal French literacy pretty much normal.

Les rosbifs generally tend to learn French as their second language at school. At mine, the form you were in dictated whether you did French or Spanish, so I did the latter. (My friend told me the other day that at her school, they offered Latin, but girls weren't allowed to take it - wtf?) Didn't stop me trying to chat to people in Paris, though. I did a linguistics degree so I tend to think I can work out what signs are telling me, but I can't pronounce French to save my life. I'd love to learn - if only because French cross-stitch patterns are so beautiful - but I've been told I speak Spanish with a strong Northern English accent so Christ only knows whether anyone would ever understand me in a restaurant.

College degrees in the UK - you wouldn't have to do any languagey things in the main unless your degree has a language component. Certainly my Sociology and Eng Lit friends didn't need to. It's entirely possible to finish your language learning at 16 (I think some schools don't even make it compulsory to school leaving age) and not have to think abotu it again until you go on holiday and embarrass yourself ordering a 'chocolate chaude'.
posted by mippy at 10:38 AM on June 17, 2012


Having just dissed mystery meat videos, I probably shouldn't have ended my comment above with one -- the link on the word "Quyanaqpak!" above (Iñupiaq for "Thanks very much") goes to a wonderful Facebook series called "Iñupiaq word of the day," a series of videos meant to keep young Native Alaskans in touch with their mother tongue. If Facebook can have Inuit language content, MeFi can stand a little French.
posted by spitbull at 10:40 AM on June 17, 2012 [2 favorites]


Mintcake, you are a scourge for that comment.
posted by Night_owl at 10:40 AM on June 17, 2012


I did A levels in the UK, mippy. Latin and Greek. By then we were expected to read French, pretty much. But I'm guessing the average British MeFite went past O levels, just like I'm guessing the average US MeFite has some college education.
posted by spitbull at 10:41 AM on June 17, 2012


My guess is that the education level on MeFi is such that a near majority of mefites read reasonably well in at least two languages

This is true if and only if you are including programming languages.
posted by Justinian at 10:48 AM on June 17, 2012 [6 favorites]


I honestly don't see what the problem is with having occasional links in languages not spoken by the majority. 17 Hours of Russian Animation and Danish slow-motion destruction (with many links in the comments to other, generally non-english, shows on the same themes, with more talking than the FPP) are some of the things I've seen on Metafilter that I've shared the most. Metafilter was where I first discovered Die Antwoord, for that matter.

I speak French, and knew the poem in question, though, so can't assess it from the direction of someone who was approaching it with no context whatsoever. But that's what the second link offers -- a context with which one can then go back and re-examine the performance. Yes, this instance is more wordy than others, but I think that the explanation of the poem was interesting in its own right.

So, in conclusion, have an advertisement for a Czech forestry school.
posted by frimble at 10:50 AM on June 17, 2012 [2 favorites]


I'm not sure educational level has a lot to do with it. I live in the US, and I'm Mexican-American, and I have one graduate degree and I'm working on my second, but I live in Ohio and despite ~5 years of Spanish and a couple assorted years of other things I took just for the hell of it, I'm not literate in anything but English anymore, because I have virtually no opportunity to use it. I mean, if I see some text, I can certainly tell you that it's Spanish, and recognize a few isolated words, but that's a far cry from being able to read it with any kind of comprehension whatsoever, and it's not much of a discussion if the whole thing has to be mangled by Google Translate.

Which doesn't mean I mind occasional things posted in foreign languages; I was able to get something out of that FPP even without speaking any French. But let's have reasonable expectations about what people *will* most likely get out of it.
posted by gracedissolved at 10:57 AM on June 17, 2012 [3 favorites]


Language skills weren't required for any of my A-levels, save obviously Spanish. General Studies had a language component if you chose to do that. Did you do Latin and Greek pre-16? I can see that knowing a language would be a big advantage for learning a classical language - I did extra-curricular Latin which helped me with Linguistics, and to get a place on my degree course you had to have language proficiency if only because learning a language makes you aware of how grammar works much more than studying your native tongue.

We don't have O-levels anymore - same age, but they're called GCSEs, since the early '90s I think (my sister took CSEs (the less academic version of O-Levels that existed then - it was a bipartite system which was a real problem if you were an academic late bloomer) in 1986, I took GCSEs in 1998.
posted by mippy at 10:58 AM on June 17, 2012 [1 favorite]


I like seeing things on the front page that challenge me to use my dormant language skills, or to seek out more information. As for people not being able to understand this post... that's pretty silly, a very simple clicking of the links would give you the English you clamor for. And as for the assertion that no other posts are difficult to understand... what a load. There are posts every day on the blue about subjects I can't comprehend. The way I deal with those is simple... I move on, and read posts about things I do understand, or that I don't understand but have a willingness to learn about. Learning is awesome. Don't cut yourself off from learning at the first sight of a word you don't understand.
posted by palomar at 11:03 AM on June 17, 2012


Your xenophobia is showing, love.

Your condescension is showing.
posted by John Cohen at 11:16 AM on June 17, 2012 [1 favorite]


timsneezed: “I agree that multilingualism is good but I feel like it's unfair to post material that the majority of readers will not be able to understand without a translation of some kind.”

It may be a little odd, but I think we should allow people to use whatever language they want, and I don't think we should harass people for using a language that isn't the "standard." We wouldn't want Metafilter to turn into Quebec.
posted by koeselitz at 11:21 AM on June 17, 2012 [5 favorites]


Observation: many Mefites speak/read English, slang, abbreviations, coding, advanced math.
posted by Cranberry at 11:21 AM on June 17, 2012


Just Thursday I announced the result of the plugfest at the morning scrum. It showed convincingly that I was ahead of target for the current agile sprint. Everyone was very impressed.
posted by Tell Me No Lies at 11:23 AM on June 17, 2012 [1 favorite]


That's easy for you to say.
posted by Ardiril at 11:25 AM on June 17, 2012


No problem with the post, but:

in the US or UK *without* learning to pick your way through a little French or Spanish text, I'd be surprised.

In the US, there are often foreign language requirements for college acceptance / graduation, but its rarely a specified language. I learned German and a little Japanese, the only French or Spanish I can recognize is from a menu. So even for bilingual-ish folks (my German is pretty rusty these days), there's no guarantee of any specific secondary language.

(and of course many members here have English as a second language, so their first language could be almost anything)

But I'm also in agreement that not every post has to be accessible to everyone, I saw that post and moved on.
posted by wildcrdj at 11:33 AM on June 17, 2012


...unfair to post material that the majority of readers will not be able to understand without a translation of some kind.

I suppose, insofar as it's "unfair" that there're lots of potentially interesting conversations out there that I'm not participating in because I don't speak the language.

As others have said above, the presence of diversity is what makes Metafilter a compelling site. I don't see much difference between a majority "not able" to understand due to language and a majority not understanding or participating because they lack interest, enculturation into a specialized discourse community, time, etc. The majority of active readers don't participate in any thread.
posted by audi alteram partem at 11:35 AM on June 17, 2012 [1 favorite]


All posts should be in English.

While we're on the topic, I believe that all posts should:

*implicitly or explicitly support the center-right policies of the Democratic Party

*be rooted in some aspect of Nerd/Geek culture, like comic books or gaming

*cast aspersions on sports, rural people and religious people

*cater to the prejudices of MetaFilter's Mythical Norm
posted by jason's_planet at 11:40 AM on June 17, 2012 [2 favorites]


I don't think I've ever seen a post on MeFi that I didn't understand

I see posts about American politics and other sundry USA-based stuff that I don't understand all the time. And there are a lot of us from various parts of the world here, yet we're not complaining and asking for deletions every time one of you posts some boring USA-based thing that isn't applicable to us.

Personally I think there should be more non-USA centric stuff here (and there is already a lot more than the internet in general), not less. I liked this post even though I speak very little French and find it really weird that anyone would be made so uncomfortable by one post outside their frame of reference. Try being not-American on the internet for a while, it's basically a foreign country and small things like a little bit of French language here and there are nothing.
posted by shelleycat at 11:43 AM on June 17, 2012 [8 favorites]


I don't like France. Too many foreigners!

Seriously, it's not a foreign language to the French.
posted by Devils Rancher at 11:51 AM on June 17, 2012


i'm a high school dropout living in oklahoma and i have a passing listening literacy in french (and i can speak it if it's a limited subject and i think reeeeaaaalllllly hard). i also love to hear languages i don't understand, especially as it relates to poetry and rap. i think posts like this should be encouraged.
posted by nadawi at 12:01 PM on June 17, 2012 [1 favorite]


some of us consider minimal French literacy pretty much normal

I don't have any problem with the post, but come on, "pretty much normal"? Not even close.
posted by adamdschneider at 12:01 PM on June 17, 2012 [5 favorites]


Seriously, it's not a foreign language to the French.

There are classes and courses of study you can take in my area to learn Ojibwe. I've known a couple of people involved who enjoy laughing and tweaking people with a quick correction when it comes up: "It's not a foreign language!"
posted by gimonca at 12:03 PM on June 17, 2012 [1 favorite]


The 'translate' bar in Chrome is pretty awesome, other comparable tools are out there if you don't speak the language. They're not perfect, but most of the time they'll help you get into a conversation about the subject that you might have been excluded from before.

At least on a level of understanding the language--the language alone won't get you all the cultural contexts and stuff, but that just becomes an opportunity to make a well-crafted post, to find explanations for the nuances people might miss otherwise.
posted by gimonca at 12:09 PM on June 17, 2012


Sure, the post is about Canadians, always a distaste subject, but come on man

Geez man, why do you have to be so racist?

But seriously, this particular post is specifically about majoritarian language and its problems. All of the commentary surrounding it was in english. The point may be valid in general but in this specific instance it seems perfectly fine.
posted by Lemurrhea at 12:32 PM on June 17, 2012


I don't speak French so I read the post and some of the comments and moved on. As for fairness, I'll just say what I say to my kids when they say something isn't fair: life's not fair, and whoever told you it would be was sorely mistaken. There are going to be things that I don't like on the front page and I simply move on, unless it's racist or advocating, I don't know, cat pornography or something. Then I flag it and move on.

Life's not fair. Not every post on MetaFilter is going to be to your liking, or even fair, for that matter.
posted by cooker girl at 12:54 PM on June 17, 2012 [1 favorite]


Yeah, the post a little while back about Canadian politics was about 10 times more confusing than the one being complained about (hell, it might even have been UK politics for all I know). It was super easy for me to just not read it and read something else! I have that power! There is lots of different stuff posted here every day and afaik no crazed gunmen are immediately dispatched to your home when you click on a [more inside], forcing you to read and understand every single word of it on pain of death.

You might also consider that if we were to only use the language spoken by the clear majority of people in the world, all posts here would be in Mandarin and written by 20something chinese men.
posted by elizardbits at 12:58 PM on June 17, 2012


Man wurde sagen das ohne Englisch sind wir alle verloren.
posted by arcticseal at 1:07 PM on June 17, 2012 [4 favorites]


My personal philosophy in making a post is usually to "sell it" to the reader, and my detail-oriented sort of personality therefore errs on the side of more information rather than less (in providing translations, describing links, etc.). But I would rather take each post on its own merits & point-of-view rather than judge it by shallow inflexibilities.

Speaking to this particular post - in the aesthetics of the framing, I read that not providing a translation was a deliberate choice given the subject. It was an exercise to the reader to help underline the point. I agree with & support this reasoning. And I had to find a translation myself, since I don't speak French; but it was not very hard to do so it does not make the post impenetrable to put this bit of footwork on the reader. This serves the content in provoking not just thought, but an experience. A shallow standard (a translation is not provided, therefore you're not selling me enough on this post) tramples that subtlety & ironically proves the very point the subject wanted to make.

There's lots of posters here with so many unique POVs to bring to MeFi through what they share with us; my approach is to be enlightened or excited by what I find as I sift through it, and what I'm not interested in or what I don't understand & I'm not willing to take the time to understand, I pass over. MeFi is excellent in being wide enough to accommodate all these POVs so I can be exposed to so much outside my narrow range, but also in having a membership to support this breadth through their affirmations and interest - and, I personally think, when they are willing to be the change by simply passing over what doesn't suit them rather than stopping to kneejerk, be negative or discouraging about it.
posted by flex at 1:12 PM on June 17, 2012 [8 favorites]


Just Thursday I announced the result of the plugfest at the morning scrum. It showed convincingly that I was ahead of target for the current agile sprint. Everyone was very impressed.

How long are your sprints, what's your velocity? Mine are a week, I think we're keeping steady at around 7. My boss has a scrum of scrums, for those they're just a day.
posted by scalefree at 1:16 PM on June 17, 2012


some of us consider minimal French literacy pretty much normal

I don't have any problem with the post, but come on, "pretty much normal"? Not even close.
posted by adamdschneider


You removed my careful contextualization there, which was that I would expect some level of rough French literacy *among Mefites.*. But I should have said "among Mefites whose contributions I tend to follow most closely," many of whom are even in some way engaged with linguistics, so there is confirmation bias to be sure. But I'm not talking even Mitt Romney level French here (he is supposedly fluent from his mission years). I mean, you get the gist of modern standard French when you see it written down. (not even oral comprehension).

Maybe my lack of interest on certain prominent topics here (as we all share I'm sure) means I don't run into them, but I often explain the beauty of metafilter by referencing the astonishing (and diverse) level of educational background among the membership. I have to continue to believe some not insignificant percentage of Mefites can read a little French, even if it is not a majority. And I have to believe something approaching a majority would have something in the toolkit besides English, if only at a rudimentary level.

Maybe we should have a profile category (searchable) for languages we know.
posted by spitbull at 1:31 PM on June 17, 2012


the callout is pointless because this has never been an issue, and the immediate problem was solved in the thread being complained about with a link to a translation.
posted by facetious at 1:34 PM on June 17, 2012 [1 favorite]


vo' DaH Daq Hoch jIH lan naDev DIchDaq taH Daq tlhIngan jIH 'oH DIch vetlh 'oH 'oH Sovta' Sum Hoch naDev!
posted by item at 1:51 PM on June 17, 2012 [1 favorite]


Interesting issue though, for those of us who'd be happy to see the site be a bit more multilingual at least.

I mean hell, Apple just released Siri in like 15 new languages, including both Mandarin and Cantonese. When we have on the fly oral translation and instant speech to text technology in the standard web browser, think of the possibilities. I never expected machine translation to reach the level it has (and voice/text translation is going nuts with faster processing, cloud processing, and giant databases of samples like Siri). A site like Metafilter could attract members from a much broader global spectrum than it already does.

I look forward to that myself. The rest of the world is not yet well represented in things like YouTube comments (which prove that morons write in all languages). Wouldn't it be awesome to have more Africans and Chinese (let us say) *here*, or a more diverse sample of smart and engaging people in general? You can say it will present real challenges to the site, but that's the rest of the world anyway, and the Internet more broadly too.. This was always part of the promise of it. Language differences will be easier and easier to overcome, which won't make them any less interesting or important (quite the contrary, in fact) but will mean that older obstacles to intercultural communication (like the educational differences between countries), for example) will become more trivial.
posted by spitbull at 1:54 PM on June 17, 2012


Oh, Google Chrome Translate feels like the FUTURE. When I was planning a holiday in Scandinavia and booking things online, it was a lifesaver, given that my Finnish runs to 'thank you', 'castle', 'moominland' and 'hamburger'. And something rude that I can't translate accurately. Also, translating a knitted item fetishist thread that someone linked to on Regretsy from a French board.

What I do find interesting is the Arabic text speak I've seen on Facebook, which looks like an alphanumeric code. Same with the minitel post from a few days ago - fascinating how text speak/AOL speak seems to be a universal thing.

but will mean that older obstacles to intercultural communication (like the educational differences between countries), for example) will become more trivial.

Well, you're assuming said countries will have internet access. If food and water are a priority - yeah, that's a really patronising view of the developing world, but you know what I mean - getting regular access is less so. But it will be interesting. There's very culturally-specific things even in internet culture, like the Japanese message boards and human flesh search-engines, which we can now read about without knowing the languages ourselves. That's awesome.
posted by mippy at 2:07 PM on June 17, 2012


Yes but on the other hand, eating hamburgers in a castle in moominland sounds like the best holiday ever.
posted by elizardbits at 2:20 PM on June 17, 2012 [4 favorites]


until the groke shows up at least
posted by elizardbits at 2:21 PM on June 17, 2012 [3 favorites]


timsneezed, would you have been OK with the FPP if it said "First link largely in French; second contains English translation?"

Also did you listen to the poem? There was a lot of English. For anyone with English but zero French who listened to it, was it completely unintelligible? My French sucks, but listening and then consulting the translation, I hadn't been far off. It was the political context that was lacking for me.
posted by BibiRose at 2:29 PM on June 17, 2012 [1 favorite]


God was I pissed off that Moominland wasn't open in spring. Even if it was £30 each to get in.
posted by mippy at 2:39 PM on June 17, 2012


Yeah, if I ever went there would be an embarrassing international incident wherein I refused to ever leave and demanded endless pancakes and jam.
posted by elizardbits at 2:57 PM on June 17, 2012 [3 favorites]


I don't have any problem with the post, but come on, "[rudimentary French is] pretty much normal"? Not even close.

Well how does everyone do the New York Times crossword then?
posted by Tell Me No Lies at 3:13 PM on June 17, 2012 [1 favorite]


Crossword French is French like Scrabble English is English.
posted by cortex (staff) at 3:18 PM on June 17, 2012


timsneezed writes "I don't think I've ever seen a post on MeFi that I didn't understand. Even if it was about a topic I was unfamiliar with, there was still enough context given for there to be some point of entry."

Totally nonsensical mystery meat shows up all the time.
posted by Mitheral at 3:28 PM on June 17, 2012


I agree that multilingualism is good but I feel like it's unfair to post material that the majority of readers will not be able to understand without a translation of some kind.

Ha, where are you in the threads about geo-blocked videos? Or is it only an issue if the majority can't understand/view? Seem awfully exclusionary to me.
posted by smoke at 3:34 PM on June 17, 2012 [5 favorites]


sorry we can't hear you over the sound of FREEDOM
posted by elizardbits at 3:50 PM on June 17, 2012 [3 favorites]


My guess is that the education level on MeFi is such that a near majority of mefites read reasonably well in at least two languages

My experience/gut feeling is that this is not the case at all.

Maybe someday we'll have a front page post in an Inuit language

As much as I think that would be neat at some level making a post that practically no MeFites can read is very different than making one that only some MeFites can read. That said, I'm in favor of non-English posts as long as there's some sort of understanding by the poster that it may be a post that a bunch of people could use some help in understanding, etc. General mystery meat posts aren't great regardless of why they're mystery meat posts, though some people like them anyhow.
posted by jessamyn (staff) at 4:05 PM on June 17, 2012


But like, say, a post discussing the similarities between the seasonal references in both Japanese haiku and Quechua harawi would be totally okay so long as the [more inside] was in English, y/n?
posted by elizardbits at 4:28 PM on June 17, 2012


Sure. I think the big deal is that if you're writing in a non-English language, to make it clear that you know you're writing for a primarily-English-speaking audience and to try to make the post have something that they could enjoy/use that wasn't just a Google translate version of the thing. So unless there's some reason your post has to be inscrutable, it would be useful though not necessary to have some sort of English link and/or context. Realistically we wouldn't delete a post that was in another language unless we thought the person was doing it as a stunt in some way. But if it was a thing that a lot of people started doing a lot, we'd probably get more fussy about it if it became a site problem.
posted by jessamyn (staff) at 4:37 PM on June 17, 2012


Maybe someday we'll have a front page post in an Inuit language -- perhaps I should undertake one (not sure if MeFi would support the relevant font character set).

While visiting Quebec I bought a Nunvut magazine just because I dug the font so much. So I would look forward to such a post. And as a point of reference, this page renders just fine for me and my browser. (And here are some more details about the syllabary.)
posted by benito.strauss at 4:45 PM on June 17, 2012


cater to the prejudices of MetaFilter's Mythical Norm

I'm not sure I've met Norm. Does he like pancakes?
posted by one more dead town's last parade at 4:54 PM on June 17, 2012 [1 favorite]


My suggestion; get a passport and get out there.

Knock that crap off, please.


Fuck that "please" shit, s'il vous plait.
posted by Ice Cream Socialist at 4:57 PM on June 17, 2012


For oh, I know, in the dust where we have buried
The silenced races and all their abominations,
We have buried so much of the delicate magic of life.

-D.H. Lawrence, Cypresses


Mes den hep tavas a-gollas y dyr

(Cornish-)
'the tongueless man gets his land took.'

-Tony Harrison, National Trust
posted by désoeuvrée at 5:26 PM on June 17, 2012


I’d imagine moderating non-English posts could be a problem though...
posted by bongo_x at 5:30 PM on June 17, 2012


Where were you when the Happy Bloomsday post went up? Surely a post about a deliberately incomprehensible novel written in English (technically, anyway) is worse than a post about a Québécois poem?
posted by gingerest at 5:42 PM on June 17, 2012


"Unfair" is certainly a novel way of complaining about posts that don't meet your approval. If you're in third grade.

Is your scroll wheel broken?
posted by MissySedai at 7:06 PM on June 17, 2012 [2 favorites]


I'm not sure I've met Norm. Does he like pancakes?

Pancakes are among the snacks I particularly enjoy!

But I call them crêpes.
posted by Mythical Norm at 7:10 PM on June 17, 2012 [1 favorite]


If you're in third grade.

Please maybe don't maybe do this please?
posted by jessamyn (staff) at 7:11 PM on June 17, 2012


Pancakes are among the snacks I particularly enjoy!

But I call them crêpes.
posted by Mythical Norm


Don't be so mean.
posted by benito.strauss at 7:25 PM on June 17, 2012 [1 favorite]


It was a joke.

I am only mean 50.000% of the time, and that time is not now!
posted by Mythical Norm at 7:29 PM on June 17, 2012 [1 favorite]


Personally I think there should be more non-USA centric stuff here (and there is already a lot more than the internet in general), not less.

Then please post some. Sincerely. I'd love to see them, and you could easily start a trend.
posted by zarq at 7:30 PM on June 17, 2012


...

or I could get the pun after I post, and look like an imbecile.
posted by Mythical Norm at 7:30 PM on June 17, 2012 [1 favorite]


It's okay, I still don't get it!
posted by jessamyn (staff) at 7:35 PM on June 17, 2012


"Unfair" is certainly a novel way of complaining about posts that don't meet your approval. If you're in third grade.

Is your scroll wheel broken?


-------------

I found the post frustrating, because I was interested in reading the poem but the OP didn't bother to include a translation. I'm fine with there being non-English posts, but I think the posters should at least put in the effort to provide some sort of translation, even if it's their own translation, so the thread is accessible to other members.
posted by timsneezed at 7:47 PM on June 17, 2012


You can still read it, it's just in French. You may have to wait to understand it until you learn the language.
posted by Ice Cream Socialist at 7:53 PM on June 17, 2012 [1 favorite]


Why are people being oddly prickly about this? MetaTalk exists so people can ask questions. Turning it into some hazing ritual defeats that purpose, so please don't do that.
posted by jessamyn (staff) at 8:05 PM on June 17, 2012 [1 favorite]


> I found the post frustrating, because I was interested in reading the poem but the OP didn't bother to include a translation. I'm fine with there being non-English posts, but I think the posters should at least put in the effort to provide some sort of translation, even if it's their own translation, so the thread is accessible to other members.

Your frustration is the proof that you understand my post better than many others that simply don't care. The poetry - per sè - isn't so important after all. Your frustration is the same frustration that many around the world experience on a daily basis when they're forced to deal in a language imposed by the wealthy/colonial/imperialist power of the moment (portugal, spain, france, britain, and now fökking usa) etc.

Instead to feel entitled to a translation, accept the fact that English isn't the only language around, and try to remember your frustration, parce que nous savons que nous ne sommes pas seuls.
posted by - at 8:33 PM on June 17, 2012 [4 favorites]


Hm, I should have checked for a MeTa thread on the subject before weighing in in the main thread. Apologies for that. In retrospect it did seem surprising how few people had risen to the bait in-thread, which should have tipped me off. To me, "foreign language" was a real button-pusher. I'm not convinced that the word "foreign" is even meaningful on a site like this one. It has a dominant language, but it's a language that has global distribution.
posted by George_Spiggott at 8:36 PM on June 17, 2012


I'm glad this meta sent me back to look at it, because it was a lovely and moving poem, and I didn't click on the original post because of the mystery-meat framing. The argument in the metatalk helped frame it for me so I knew what I was looking at when I got there and I enjoyed it.

Personally I think there should be more non-USA centric stuff here (and there is already a lot more than the internet in general), not less.

I second zarq. I would particularly like to read about daily life in Japan; the city of Manaus, Brazil, on the Amazon; colonial architecture in Nicaragua; government in Mongolia and the nomadic lifestyle's changes and survival as Ulan Baator grows; the state of Italian cinema; the Taklamakan Desert; the current state of the Rift Valley; I can think of more. But that can get you started.

I am also happy to read bits of posts in language I can read or muddle through, but I really do need a translation to get enough to participate.
posted by Eyebrows McGee at 8:38 PM on June 17, 2012


Instead to feel entitled to a translation, accept the fact that English isn't the only language around, and try to remember your frustration, parce que nous savons que nous ne sommes pas seuls.

-------

I think this is part of what bothered me about the post. I sort of suspected you were purposely not including a translation as some sort of statement, and you seem to be confirming this. I think it's rather silly, as it excludes the very people from a discussion (Anglo speakers) who could most benefit from being part of it.
posted by timsneezed at 8:49 PM on June 17, 2012


you're not alone, many people are excluded or marginalized because of their language. and yes, it's very silly.

We need to be the change we wish to see in the world. To give millions a knowledge of English is to enslave us.

-- Mahatma Gandhi
posted by - at 9:02 PM on June 17, 2012


For what it's worth, I can appreciate an attempt at artfulness in a post but I also pretty much agree with timsneezed as far as it being not so great to intentionally use a post as an attempt to frustrate your fellow mefites as a point-making exercise. That's not something specific to non-English-language posts by any means, but it's certainly not a great reason to make one and it's somewhat tarnishing the good spirit we try to approach multilingual stuff here with to go at it with that sort of standoffish intent.

To put it another way (and it's not clear to me that this is what you were going for, but it's a little muddled at this point what you were going for): posting about French poetry because you want to share it with your fellow users is a-okay good stuff. Doing so because you want to make them feel bad for speaking English in a world where not everyone does is not so much.
posted by cortex (staff) at 9:08 PM on June 17, 2012 [2 favorites]


-, you are really sort of giving the impression that the post you made to the front page was stuntish and deliberately obscure to make a point that you seem to be further attempting to drive home here. If this is not the case, could you clarify?
posted by jessamyn (staff) at 9:09 PM on June 17, 2012


It's worth saying that it literally took me two seconds to find a translation.
posted by His thoughts were red thoughts at 9:11 PM on June 17, 2012 [4 favorites]


Doing so because you want to make them feel bad for speaking English in a world where not everyone does is not so much.

Wow, that seems like an uncharitable reading to say the least. A kinder reading of the intent might be that the post content and the manner of posting it reinforced each other in a thought-provoking way. And it's not, as Htwrt points out just now, like an interested user is rendered helpless by it.
posted by George_Spiggott at 9:19 PM on June 17, 2012 [10 favorites]


> That's not something specific to non-English-language posts by any means, but it's certainly not a great reason to make one and it's somewhat tarnishing the good spirit we try to approach multilingual stuff here with to go at it with that sort of standoffish intent.

cortex: beside the fact 2 of 3 link of my post (yes, 3 links, little surprise) are in English, and give the full explanation of it, the point of my post was to talk about linguistic imperialism in Canada, and linguistic imperialism in general (it's also a tag).
posted by - at 9:21 PM on June 17, 2012


despite*
posted by - at 9:23 PM on June 17, 2012


or I could get the pun after I post, and look like an imbecile.
posted by Mythical Norm at 10:30 PM on June 17 [1 favorite −] Favorite added! [!]

It's okay, I still don't get it!
posted by jessamyn (staff) at 10:35 PM on June 17 [+] [!]


Norm = average = mean. If you don't get it, it means you either never had to take or have complete recovered from a statistics course. You should probably feel happy about it.
posted by benito.strauss at 9:23 PM on June 17, 2012


the point of my post was to talk about linguistic imperialism in Canada, and linguistic imperialism in general

Which, again, my default assumption is that you're trying to make a good post to share with your fellow users, and you'll note above that our position is very much one of feeling like multilingual posts are an okay thing in general on the site. It's the sort of confrontational "yes it is silly, yes you should contemplate your frustration" stuff in your comments here that makes it a little more difficult to take it as not intentionally confrontational. If that's not your intent, maybe give that stuff a rest and be okay with the fact that an otherwise fine post might get some traction for being a bit terse about it's presentation.
posted by cortex (staff) at 9:26 PM on June 17, 2012 [1 favorite]


yes, it is confrontational, the poetry is confrontational, and the clash in Québec are very confrontational too.

The frustration of "not understand" something - and have to deal with it anyway (because you're forced to) it's the very key to understand my post.
posted by - at 9:33 PM on June 17, 2012 [1 favorite]


(and linguistic imperialism in general)
posted by - at 9:33 PM on June 17, 2012


> Your frustration is the same frustration that many around the world experience on a daily basis when they're forced to deal in a language imposed ....

posted by - at 11:33 PM on June 17 [+] [!]


-, I also get tempted to reach for this same rhetorical tool sometimes. "Hey, M. X, you're being a jerk. Don't you know how you're making others feel? Here, I'll treat you like a jerk too, so you know." It's a blunt tool, I think it's discouraged around here, and I think that policy keeps this a better place.
posted by benito.strauss at 9:36 PM on June 17, 2012 [2 favorites]


The frustration of "not understand" something - and have to deal with it anyway (because you're forced to) it's the very key to understand my post.

Well then we're back to the "This seems like more of a meta-experiment/soapbox than a post that was trying to share something neat you found on the web" which sort of slops it over precariously close to activist/axe-grinding territory.

We haven't had to talk too much about people doing this sort of thing because it rarely comes up, but it's not a great way to pave the road for future multilingual posts here. People here on MeFi are not necessarily in the same class/category/subgroup as "the oppressors" and treating them like they are is a not-so-great way to interact here.
posted by jessamyn (staff) at 9:40 PM on June 17, 2012


Jokes aside, I think it's a deliberately inflammatory post. The poem is about as powerful and culturally significant in the context of 1960-1975 Québec as Strange Fruit is to 1940-1968 US, and the two-link post was - to me, anyway - clearly a nose-tweaking of the principally American, principally Anglophone MetaFilter community.
posted by gingerest at 9:43 PM on June 17, 2012 [2 favorites]


jessamyn, where I said you're "the oppressors"?

It's a post about a poetry who talk about linguistic imperialism; the post give 2 others link with a lengthy English (only) explanation of the poetry and the context where that poetry was produced. Ironically enough - this post have produced the same dynamics of a linguistic conflict. Here I'm just suggesting to timsneezed to use his "frustration" as a mean for empathy and compassion (like she said at the end of the poetry: we know we're not alone), instead to pretend to have a translation.
posted by - at 9:56 PM on June 17, 2012 [3 favorites]


Let's say that is one of the rare cases where do not understand help to understand better.
posted by - at 10:02 PM on June 17, 2012


Let's say that is one of the rare cases where do not understand help to understand better.

It's really not. It's a case in which an English translation would have assisted people who didn't understand your point to understand your point, without whatever weird performance art demonstration of cultural imperialism you are apparently trying to deploy.

It's also a situation in which anyone who didn't speak French could just Google a translation in mere moments, so the claims about the terrible frustrations suffered seem a little silly to me.

IMO, the best posts in MeFi are the ones that give the people who are new to the issues or the subject the tools to understand the post, and participate in the debate. In that case, it would have been trivially easy.
posted by His thoughts were red thoughts at 10:10 PM on June 17, 2012 [1 favorite]


My guess is that the education level on MeFi is such that a near majority of mefites read reasonably well in at least two languages... that multilingualism is something I cherish about MeFi, and I'd be happy to see it more prominently woven into the site culture.

Time to dust off Wheelock's, I guess.
posted by the man of twists and turns at 10:40 PM on June 17, 2012


Interesting. It's not very frequent that I disagree with our illustrious mods, but I think I might here. My French is not very good, but I did manage to read the poem (there's no way I would have understood it just from the audio); I suppose it's possible this colors my reception of the post. I suppose it's also relevant that I run Chrome and thus have google translate (which doesnt' suck nearly as much as it used to) very easily available, and tend to assume anyone with an internet connection has the same.

I liked the multilayered framing of the post. I thought it was an interesting way to present the problem, directly to the English-speaking reader. It made me think, in a good way. It was confrontational, but being confronted with things outside my experience, even things that make me uncomfortable, is something I enjoy, and I think most MeFites do too.

I guess it's a question of what "confrontational" means here-- should I have been insulted that with English as my native language, this post was much harder for me to approach? Was the OP hoping I'd feel bad as a result? (I do feel a little bad, but mostly because I studied that language for 6 years and I shouldnt' suck this much at it). That wasn't really my reading-- more it was a "this is tough. The poem is about the same toughness, coupled with oppression of an underclass."

Of course, I'd comment to the OP that I think mystery meat posts often get, uh, missed-- I'd missed this one until the Metatalk thread. And the link on the . I completely missed (and it was sort of a silly Wikipedia link anyhow, so I'm not too sad about it). If you wish to get people to read your posts, a little more verbiage about why they should bother might be useful.
posted by nat at 10:49 PM on June 17, 2012 [8 favorites]


I second zarq. I would particularly like to read about daily life in Japan; the city of Manaus, Brazil, on the Amazon; colonial architecture in Nicaragua; government in Mongolia and the nomadic lifestyle's changes and survival as Ulan Baator grows; the state of Italian cinema; the Taklamakan Desert; the current state of the Rift Valley; I can think of more. But that can get you started.

You're every bit as qualified as I am to make posts about those things. Probably more so since they're things you're clearly interested in. Not being American doesn't mean I automatically know all about the rest of the world. I already posted the one super-cool NZ based website I found where I'm not affiliated with the makers (that last part more difficult when you're from somewhere small). If I find another one I'll post that too, but I'm not going to post crap just to make a point.

Not throwing a fit when someone posts something slightly different is a much better trend to start and it's one we can all participate in.
posted by shelleycat at 12:23 AM on June 18, 2012 [2 favorites]


-: “and linguistic imperialism in general”

You see that here, in this conversation? L'impérialisme linguistique, you say? Comment parlez-vous dans vos salons huppés?
posted by koeselitz at 1:52 AM on June 18, 2012


koeselitz, yep. Speak What is already quoted in the article I linked in the FFP, and as you can see here I speak about linguistic imperialism in general.
posted by - at 2:04 AM on June 18, 2012


p.s.: ...and french is not my first language.
posted by - at 2:07 AM on June 18, 2012


But "Speak White" is ... Quebec at that time was a particular beast - the principle fight was not against language as much as it was against how the English speaking part of Canada had been treating the French speaking part like servants and disposable people for the better part of oh two centuries. An argument could also be made that an English speaking group of businessmen had seized hold of the Qubecois economy and kept the French speaking part from making any of that money. This can lead to some rather large resentments.

In the late 60's language became one way this conflict was addressed but the real beef was that the English-speaking part of Canada had been treating them like crap since always.

Anyone interested could Google "Quiet Revolution," or there's this from the 'Canadian Encyclopedia.'

The Partis Quebecois took these very real and reasonable emotions (expressed in this poem) and used them to further divide and conquer Quebec and later attempt to leverage Canada as well - it was cynical, despicable power-grabbing at its most craven.
posted by From Bklyn at 2:35 AM on June 18, 2012 [2 favorites]


"You're every bit as qualified as I am to make posts about those things. Probably more so since they're things you're clearly interested in. Not being American doesn't mean I automatically know all about the rest of the world. I already posted the one super-cool NZ based website I found where I'm not affiliated with the makers (that last part more difficult when you're from somewhere small). If I find another one I'll post that too, but I'm not going to post crap just to make a point.

Not throwing a fit when someone posts something slightly different is a much better trend to start and it's one we can all participate in."


Is this directed at me? I liked the post, once I was directed to it from here (missed the post on the main page because it was mystery meat) and don't think I was throwing a fit.

I realize that not being North American does not make you, or anyone, an expert on the rest of the world. One of my two posts was on Albania. I posted all those other things because I am CURIOUS about them and know very little about them, and I am positive there are mefites with deep knowledge of 3/4 of those topics that would make a great FPP.

I'm really taken aback by the apparent hostility in this post when I am saying, "Yes, more US stuff would be great," and "I didn't mind the foreign language since I could find a translation."
posted by Eyebrows McGee at 5:51 AM on June 18, 2012


While visiting Quebec I bought a Nunvut magazine

Yeah, Canadian Inuktitut has its own orthographic system (which actually works beautifully, save for a few vowel variations, for other Inuit languages, but is not yet in widespread use outside of Canada, although I knew an Alaskan Iñupiaq elder who had mastered it and was actively championing its potential when he passed away). Alaskan languages (Yup'ik and Iñupiaq) use various accent marks and modified English characters. For someone who reads English, the Alaskan system is less daunting at first. But the Canadian system is actually much more efficient at rendering the language phonemically.
posted by spitbull at 6:46 AM on June 18, 2012 [1 favorite]


*more NOT-US stuff
posted by Eyebrows McGee at 6:54 AM on June 18, 2012


Please maybe don't maybe do this please?

Sorry, Jess. This complaint put me much in mind of the elementary kids I tutor, and the "unfair" cry really got under my skin more than it probably should have.

Frankly, I find the complaint and "frustration" a bit ridiculous. It took more time to craft the complaint than it would have to open up another tab and execute a 5 second search. Or to read the translation that someone else provided in-thread. In this age of easy access to information, I'm always astounded to see complaints like this - similar to the people in cooking communities complaining about recipes in metric. Feed it to Google, it will do the conversions for you in less time than it takes you to complain!
posted by MissySedai at 6:56 AM on June 18, 2012 [5 favorites]


MissySedai: " Frankly, I find the complaint and "frustration" a bit ridiculous. It took more time to craft the complaint than it would have to open up another tab and execute a 5 second search. Or to read the translation that someone else provided in-thread. In this age of easy access to information, I'm always astounded to see complaints like this - similar to the people in cooking communities complaining about recipes in metric. Feed it to Google, it will do the conversions for you in less time than it takes you to complain!"

I think it should be okay to ask for a translation in the thread of a post like that.

One of my favorite things about this place is people don't reply to innocent questions or requests for additional information with a kneejerk, obnoxious "just fucking google it."

It is stifling to discussion over the long term: People who are belittled or otherwise made to feel they have done something wrong by asking questions are probably going to be be reluctant to ask them in the future, even if they don't get their answers from a google search.
posted by zarq at 7:28 AM on June 18, 2012


Zarq, I think there's a pretty big difference between "Hey, can someone point me to a translation?" in-thread, and a whole MeTa post complaining that the post was "unfair", even after a translation was provided.

One is a request for info. The other smacks of lazy entitlement. I'll leave it as an exercise for the reader to determine which is which.
posted by MissySedai at 7:34 AM on June 18, 2012


The other smacks of lazy entitlement.

I know this is rubbing people the wrong way but I have been crystal clear. Quit calling the OP of this question names.
posted by jessamyn (staff) at 7:36 AM on June 18, 2012 [3 favorites]


I didn't have any trouble plugging the URL into Google Translate. Took all of two seconds, and results were entirely satisfactory.

One of my favorite things about this place is people don't reply to innocent questions or requests for additional information with a kneejerk, obnoxious "just fucking google it."

Thing is, though: You can. It's fast, it's easy, and it solves the problem one hundred percent. The fact that you'd refuse to do something so simple and demand someone else do it for you is really quite obnoxious.

Chew your own fucking food.
posted by Sys Rq at 11:47 AM on June 18, 2012


zarq

We had this MeTa not so long ago...
posted by the man of twists and turns at 11:50 AM on June 18, 2012


MissySedai: "Zarq, I think there's a pretty big difference between "Hey, can someone point me to a translation?" in-thread, and a whole MeTa post complaining that the post was "unfair", even after a translation was provided."

I agree. But I'm not particularly inclined to say timsneezed is acting as if he's entitled to a language-free mefi, either.
posted by zarq at 12:06 PM on June 18, 2012


the man of twists and turns: " We had this MeTa not so long ago..."

Yes. I participated in that thread.
posted by zarq at 12:07 PM on June 18, 2012


The Partis Quebecois took these very real and reasonable emotions (expressed in this poem) and used them to further divide and conquer Quebec and later attempt to leverage Canada as well - it was cynical, despicable power-grabbing at its most craven.

That's a pretty extreme reading of what the PQ did, I think. From my POW they just kept the social democratic reforms going, and then organized the 1980 referendum, which failed.

There are some very ugly sides to the independentist/separatist movement, like those militia people who practice shooting or some of the racist undertones that sometimes crop up, but I think the René Lévesque-era PQ was relatively benign.
posted by Monday, stony Monday at 12:17 PM on June 18, 2012


Sys Rq: " Thing is, though: You can. It's fast, it's easy, and it solves the problem one hundred percent.

Not 100%, no. In fact, plugging the poem into Google Translate isn't going to solve the problem much if at all, because the poem requires greater political and historical context to understand properly.

Google the poem title and you get a wikipedia page which provides the sheerest veneer of historical context and honestly, raises more questions than it answers. Is a government setting English as a common language in a country with non-English-speaking culture(s) automatically considered "linguistic oppression"? Why should we assume so? Meanwhile, the poem was composed by a Québécois writer, and is ostensibly specifically about a situation in Canada and Québéc, but tries to draw larger parallels in modern culture that have nothing to do with either Canada nor Québéc. Why? Add to this that the OP likely composed the post to emphasize the feeling of linguistic oppression for English-speaking readers that the poem says non-English speakers must feel.

I studied the poem in college. It's an interesting commentary that gets raised often to make points about the pervasiveness of anglophones and anglo culture in majority English-speaking countries. While studying it on its own merits is rewarding, when it comes to practical applications, context does indeed matter.

The fact that you'd refuse to do something so simple and demand someone else do it for you is really quite obnoxious."

I stand by what I said above. There's a reason why the mods autodelete JFGI comments. I think they're far more destructive to discourse.

" Chew your own fucking food."

One of the lessons I've been forced to learn as a parent is that making food palatable sometimes will mean cutting it into bite-sized portions, first.
posted by zarq at 12:40 PM on June 18, 2012


Is this directed at me? I liked the post, once I was directed to it from here (missed the post on the main page because it was mystery meat) and don't think I was throwing a fit.

First paragraph yes, second paragraph no. Sorry should have been more clear. I was not trying to be hostile at all to anyone either, but I had just got up when I made the post so I should have worded the last sentence better.

I did find your previous post really weird though, it really did read like you were telling me to go make a bunch of posts about things I know nothing about simply because I said I'm not American. It was a specific instruction rather than a general comment about posting: "I can think of more. But that can get you started.". Not coming from one country doesn't mean I automatically know everything about every other country but that is how it came across. Add in the shaming aspect, where the two replies I got made it clear that I'm not allowed to say I like non-USA posts unless I post lots of them myself (which, bleh, I don't like making FPPs actually), and it all kind of sucks.

Basically, I don't want to make FPPs. I do want people to be open minded about both posting and reading a wide variety of posts, which the poster of this metatalk was totally not.
posted by shelleycat at 1:16 PM on June 18, 2012


I think the René Lévesque-era PQ was relatively benign.

I had to go back a bit, try and separate out my gut instinct from what might have been a different truth.

But no, I don't think it was benign. OK, here's an interview he gives, basically in support of his book. I think he has a point about being in a minority and wanting to rectify wrongs done in the past. His way to set about achieving this is to break Quebec off from Canada. I don't agree with this. It was under his tenure also that "Bill 101" (language laws) was passed. It sounds quirky and crazy now, from here - (everyone has to speak French! All the signs have to be in French! Wacky!) but at the time to be Anglophone in Quebec was to be regularly railed at and called a 'Tete carré' (sp). And then to get similar but different shit and called a 'frog.'

He and his party created a tone of antagonism towards non-Francophone Quebecois. This was not benign. It was so not benign that we and about half a million other non-Francophone Quebecois (or simply people too fed up with a politics that defines itself by what language you speak and is focused principally on issues of language (and race) instead of equality and conscientious administration of government) left. I was 11. And this is the truly sad part of the story, the real heart-jerker, that fall I got a letter (forwarded) that invited me to try out for Bantam League! And I couldn't! Because I was in fucking America! Burn in hell René! Burn!

Maybe others had different experience of that time. I wouldn't doubt it, but from what I saw he rallied Francophone voters by revving up their long-simmering (and often justifiable) animosities towards the Anglophone.
posted by From Bklyn at 2:00 PM on June 18, 2012 [2 favorites]


/me is busy creating a new warm weather drink for sipping on the porch on idle summer days, called Lazy Entitlemint.
posted by George_Spiggott at 2:03 PM on June 18, 2012


...and if you can wade through the Quebecois/Joual here's ole René arguing for why Quebec should take over Labrador. It's awesome, but unfortunately not being played for laughs.
posted by From Bklyn at 2:27 PM on June 18, 2012


Sorry, link: http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=AeXESBNqFpY
posted by From Bklyn at 2:47 PM on June 18, 2012


...and if you can wade through the Quebecois/Joual here's ole René arguing for why Quebec should take over Labrador. It's awesome, but unfortunately not being played for laughs.

That's not Joual. He's speaking fast, and he's doing the classic French Canadian sounds, but his French is very close to an international standard.

As for Labrador, nobody in Quebec ever quite digested the Privy Coucil's 1927 decision. Lévesque is just explaining his proposed way of forcing the issue to get to an international court.
posted by Monday, stony Monday at 3:15 PM on June 18, 2012


I kind of get the accessibility issue. The majority of videos here are not accessible to me because they're not captioned or there is no transcript available. (automatic YouTube captioning is abysmal) But that would be a much higher bar for posts, so, sigh.
posted by desjardins at 10:16 PM on June 18, 2012


Some more on the Privy Council of 1927, scroll down to 'Quebec'. To be born in mind, Labrador was 'given' to Newfoundland from Quebec in 1825.
posted by From Bklyn at 7:29 AM on June 19, 2012


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