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The Medium-Size Language Trap

Of the difficulty of writing a technical blog & the pitfalls of medium-size languages

How lucky are those Dutch, Finns and Icelanders. To address a large audience they are forced to write in English — and their fellow country men & women are accustomed to reading English prose if they wish to grasp what is going on in the world.

Less fortunate are those French, Russians, Germans, Italians and even Hispanics whose language is of medium size. Googling in this kind of language suggests to them that they can find satisfactory answers to most pressing questions. So why bother learning enough English to jump into the vast pond of international communication?

The mid-size languages constitute an intellectual trap. Pursuing a technical discussion in these languages is like catching fish in an aquarium.

While science, banking and business have long become accustomed to converse in English (and some universities have even abandoned the national language altogether), most techies and ordinary people are still monolingual. They may sport some degree of English literacy but not enough for conducting a meaningful exchange with the world outside their mother tongue bubble.

Speaking in practical terms, this unfortunate situation obliges a technical blogger to write a bilingual blog

— one in English language and
— one in the national language for a local audience which is still largely English-illiterate.

Surely, a way of handling this problem would be to translate. But who likes to translate? A stupid and tedious job that offends the creative spirit.

Having said this, there is no excuse anymore. Let's get going!

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