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Welcome to another Localization Roundup, a collection of the latest articles on website and software localization. This week we have some news which is interesting only in that it’s been such a long time coming . . . and it FINALLY happened. We also have an article on international SEO and strategy for international expansion.

Apple waves goodbye to flags

Localization experts have been cautioning against using flags to indicate languages for years. And Apple finally just last week got rid of its flags on its language selection page!

John Yunker at Global by Design has been trying to encourage Apple to get rid of the flags since 2004!

What’s the big deal? Flags are inappropriate for indicating language on language selection pages for many reasons.

One reason is that they are politically sensitive. For example, if you decide to use the People’s Republic of China (that’s “China”) flag or the Republic of China (that’s “Taiwan”) flag to indicate the Chinese language, you are wading into controversy for no good reason. If you use the Taiwan flag, some people will be angry saying, “Taiwan is a province of China, not a country!” There are numerous other regions across the world with similar controversies. Why even get yourself in the middle of it?

Another reason is that, just because you speak the language, doesn’t mean you belong to the country known for the language. For example Korean speakers are native to three nations: South Korea, North Korea, and China. Yes, Korean is one of the (many) official languages of China. Why should a Korean speaker whose ancestry goes back for generations in China have to click on a flag of South Korea to use a website in his or her language?

The Tomb of the General in Jian, China former capital of Goguryeo

This image illustrates the fact that Korean has been spoken in China since ancient times. It shows a tomb of a Korean King which is located near the Chinese city of Ji’an. (Image attribution.)

Likewise Spanish is an established language in the USA due to immigrants from all over the world. Why should someone who has never been to Latin America, have to click on a Mexican flag to see a Spanish website?

True. Flags are colorful and nice looking. But using them to indicate language is nonsensical.

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How retailers can craft an international roadmap in these testing times

This article concisely provides and overall strategy for growing a business across national borders.

It covers localization, social media, SEO, partnerships, and more.

SEO Best Practices for Multilingual Sites

This article by ZAG Interactive covers URLs for international websites and how to indicate site language to search engines.

It explains how Google and Bing use different methods to determine your website’s language. Finally it touches on the touchy subject (as we explained in the first section) of how to let your users select a language.

That’s our roundup for this week. Leave a comment below to share any great localization or translation articles you have read lately.

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