Keeping a blog in a foreign language

By Confusion on Tuesday 23 September 2008 05:09 - Comments (14)
Category: Philosophy, Views: 10.166

I'm amazed at the number of comments to posts of bloggers here in which the commenter wonders about the use of the English language. As far as I'm concerned, English is the lingua franca of the internet. The things I write about are seldomnly limited to the Netherlands and I'd like as many people as possible to be able to use and enjoy my posts. If that means sacrificing quality, because I'm less proficient at English than at Dutch, so be it.

What amazes me even more, is the number of commenters that seem to think it's fair game to criticise the writer's use of the English language. If you'd make the same comments at the forum, you'd be moderated as offtopic and, in many cases, as a nitpicker. If you think this post contains spelling errors, wrong grammar or bad style, feel free to email me about it. Just please don't clutter the comments with it.

Edit:
Come to think of it, actually, feel free to comment on spelling, grammar and style in the comments, but please do it in a seperate comment. I will delete it as soon as I have read it.

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Comments


By Tweakers user momania, Tuesday 23 September 2008 08:19

I couldn't agree more. :)

The owner of the blog can set the default language for his posts. Because the site support 'tagging' the posts as Dutch or English, there is an indicator if the post differs from the default language. The only nice-to-have would be an indicator of what the default language is I guess. :)

Futhermore: it's people's nature to complain, especially the Dutch, although for some people it doesn't come to mind that it might be better just to say nothing ;) :P

You know you are able to remove unwanted reactions right? >:) :+

By Tweakers user mOrPhie, Tuesday 23 September 2008 10:40

* mOrPhie agrees

My blog is English. I think Confusion's and my blog are the two most active English tweakblogs. The topics I write about do not only concern the dutch, but a much greater audience. And it works. I got a comment from a top devdays speaker on my devdays blog. I got international response on my semi-serious linux-post. Someone commented to thank me for the virtual-pc workaround, so that means people find my blog with Google. I'm not saying everyone should keep their blog in English, but depending on the topics, it could be a good idea to do so.

And for the comments that are offtopic or in dutch: You have the (technical) right to remove comments from your own blog. You could remove offtopic posts, and write a mail to the commenter. :)

By Tweakers user Cyphax, Tuesday 23 September 2008 10:43

Seems simple enough to me: if you want non-Dutch readers to read your blog post, you pretty much have no choice but to write in English. What I do not understand is why you're amazed at comments criticizing your English grammar and/or spelling (although you can tackle the spelling problem easily by using a spell checker).
"If you'd make the same comments at the forum, you'd be moderated as offtopic and, in many cases, as a nitpicker."
This is a blog, not a forum. You see this on the Tweakers.net front page a lot, too. One spelling error in the text, and you can rest assured someone is going to notice and say something about it. Again: this is not a forum, it's a blog.

I just don't understand what is so amazing about it. Do I want to fire up my e-mail client just to tell you you should have written "off topic" rather than "offtopic"? Maybe _I_ do, but a lot of people probably won't. It's simply a result of writing English on a Dutch-based blog site I think. Perhaps everybody wants to show off their incredible English writing skills, perhaps they want to be genuinely helpful because you are writing in English on a Dutch site so everybody simply knows you're a native Dutch speaker, not English.

In the end, it's your choice. If you want to expand your scope to beyond the Netherlands (and Belgium :P) you're obviously free to do so. However, I think people will continue to comment on errors made. I would just ignore them. :)

By Tweakers user mOrPhie, Tuesday 23 September 2008 11:08

@Cyphax: I don't think Confusion has something against spelling/grammer-comments. I think he refers to comments, in dutch, that criticize the fact that the blog is in english instead of dutch. I've seen that more than once.

By Tweakers user Confusion, Tuesday 23 September 2008 12:34

One spelling error in the text, and you can rest assured someone is going to notice and say something about it.
Do I want to fire up my e-mail client just to tell you you should have written "off topic" rather than "offtopic"?
If I consistently make certain errors in spelling, grammar or style, it is reasonable to point that out. If someone makes a typo, interchanges two words or does something else that is harmless, it's just annoying to have the comments fill up with references to the typo, instead of to the contents. You wouldn't do that on a Dutch blog either and on the T.net frontpage, textual remarks aren't allowed for the same reason.

Come to think of it, actually, feel free to comment on spelling, grammar and style in the comments, but please do it in a seperate comment. I will delete it as soon as I have read it.

By Tweakers user Cyphax, Tuesday 23 September 2008 14:43

You wouldn't do that on a Dutch blog either and on the T.net frontpage, textual remarks aren't allowed for the same reason.
I'm not so sure of that. Try Fok!, which isn't so much a blog but people seem to treat it as such. Faulty spelling and/or grammatical errors are pointed out there, too, in Dutch. Of course, this isn't exactly the same but I wouldn't say that it is something you see mostly on these Tweakblogs. :)
Also, on the Tweakers front page, such comments may not be allowed; they are still posted frequently. It is something people do without thinking twice, I think. You are right in that it is annoying to read several posts pointing out some small error. So I really agree with you. I just don't think it's something you shouldn't expect in general. :)

By Tweakers user dvdheiden, Tuesday 23 September 2008 15:44

[onzinmodus]Huh wah seggie? Ken je nie ff Nederlands pratuh?[/onzinmodus]

Serieus:
Groot gelijk, het correct gebruik van de Nederlandse taal is tegenwoordig ook niet altijd even goed, dan zijn die paar spelfoutjes, etc. wel te rechtvaardigen indien je je best doet een echte wereldtaal te gebruiken.

By Tweakers user Jungian, Tuesday 23 September 2008 19:14

Continuous use of spell and grammar checkers has been eroding my Dutch (written) language skills for years. :'( Combine these miraculous technologies with a general disinterest in the language and presto... stupid spelling and/or grammar mistakes are born ("zowieso" anyone ?). Thank [deity] there's English for the sane people among us !

By Tweakers user crisp, Wednesday 24 September 2008 00:36

mOrPhie: you forgot to mention my blog :'( (although I occasionally write in Dutch as well, depending on the topic and the scope of it). Heck, I'm responsible for the whole language-choice feature because I made it my personal prerequisite for moving my own blog (which of course was in English) over to Tweakblogs ;)

By Tweakers user mOrPhie, Wednesday 24 September 2008 10:05

crisp: Ah, I'm sorry. :P But nonetheless, the choice to implement the language-feature was a good one.

By Tweakers user bobwarley, Wednesday 24 September 2008 13:36

So, if your goal is: "I'd like as many people as possible to be able to use and enjoy my posts."

Why not post your articles in both English and Dutch?

By Tweakers user bobwarley, Wednesday 24 September 2008 13:38

I think your goal is the other way around:

"With as little effort as possible, I'd like to reach as many people as I can"

because:

"I'd like to reach as many people as I can, so I write in English" does not compute for young people in the Netherlands who might not be as suffciently proficient in English to understand your posts.

By Tab, Sunday 28 September 2008 12:42

I've always felt the need to make nitpicky comments on one's spelling in blogs to be a kind of "holier than thou"-thing. People seem to use it to get a hold on the author and his writing; they give themselves a role of authority: editor in chief.

That said, I think blatant errors (say, spelling mistakes in titles or one of the many "common errors" (it's/its, incorrect use of tenses, etc.)) should be pointed out and frowned upon. It shows a lack of effort on the part of the author. If he doesn't care enough to at least reduce the most basic of beginner's mistakes, why should others take the effort to read (ie. translate to English) his posts?

A good way to improve your English may be to read the Penguin "writer's guide": "Common Errors and Problems in English" by R. Allen.

By Tweakers user Praetextatus, Thursday 9 October 2008 15:59

Your english is by far better then the majority of the tweakers here. It is in the human -gene to nitpick. I have never felt the urge to leave any comments but I have always read your blogs with interest. Keep up the good work.

Comments are closed