Words are always the same. What they say is never the same.

Words are always the same. What they say is never the same.
Day 13 ~ 13JULY07 no more language barrier on Flickr - Photo Sharing!
What languages do YOU speak?

As you might have noticed now and then almost none of the Next Web editors are native English speakers. We do have a lot of native English readers who send us tips and correct our grammar and of course we use our spelling checkers and check each others posts. But interpreting words will always stay a challenge for us. As Antonio Porchia said in 1943 (translated from Spanish by W.S. Merwin):

What words say does not last. The words last. Because words are always the same, and what they say is never the same.

In Europe we have a problem with languages. Every country has its own language so offering a simple service for everybody there is a lot of work. People also underestimate the effort it takes to offer something in multiple languages. Google is now offering most of their services in 40 different languages. You might think that this is just a matter of translating every word on a website. But it is more difficult than that:

Take Hebrew or Arabic, which are written from right to left. An Arabic speaker may search for [world cup football 2008] [كأس العالم 2008 لكرة القدم]. Part of the query will be written from right to left in Arabic, while the numbers will be written left to right. Sometimes the right-to-left difference can mean having to change the entire layout of a page, as with Gmail.

Or take Russian, where words change depending on their placement and role in a sentence. In Russian, for example [pizza in Moscow] is [пицца в Москве] but [pizza near Moscow] is [пицца рядом с Москвой].

It is a very good idea to offer your service in more languages than one. Just remember that there is more to language than just words.

Read next: Alternative film site Raindance.tv raises € 600.000