Politics of localization

It seems that some people are angry that a Kurdish-language version of Firefox exists. The mozilla.feedback newsgroup has been full of posts about Kurdish, many of them similar to this message.

Who knew that making it possible for volunteers to translate a web browser into multiple languages could be controversial?

29 Responses to “Politics of localization”

  1. Michael Says:

    Crazy, crazy, crazy people who write those messages. How much critical thinking do you need to understand that a language can not be ‘terrorist’?? Too much for some, apparently…

    I can’t find Kurdish on http://www.getfirefox.com though…

  2. Gen Kanai Says:

    It’s disheartening to see the anti-Kurdish comments where the commenters praise the “freedom” of Firefox but would deny that same “freedom” to a different segment of the population due to politic/history/perception/etc.. It’s also clear, which you identified in IRC, that the comments are merely copied and pasted from a blog that is pushing this agenda. Finally, it’s also clear that these users do not understand the nature of open source software.

  3. Nik Says:

    Serbian, Croatian, and Bosnian have (estimated) 12, 6.2, and 2.7 million speakers, respectively. That sounds like they’re at best in the range of Kurdish when combined, and individually even notably less. Does that mean that Serbian Wikipedia should be wiped along with Firefox’s Kurdish translation?

    People are silly.

  4. Grey Hodge Says:

    Nik: Sadly, there are people who _would_ like to see Coratian, Serbian, and Bosnian translations of everything wiped out. The terrorism thing is a straw man, it’s all about ethnic hatred. The Turks are notorious for hating Kurds, and they feel giving them ANYTHING, even a translation of Firefox, legitimizes them and their ethnicity, and strengthens the Kurdish desire for their own state. Turks feel about Kurds the way Arabs feel about Jews.

  5. Lech Says:

    I find it rather humorous that if there are Kurdish speakers and readers that other people would attempt to deny them a translation if one were to exist. After all, downloading a Kurdish translation would be completely optional and it would be tasked to the person responsible for creating the translation and enjoyed by those who read/write Kurdish so what’s the huge deal? We could just as easily establish a Klingon or Wookie translation, sure there may not be THAT MANY Klingon or Wookie “speakers or writers” but it would exist simply as an option for those who may WANT or even NEED it.

    If you don’t need the translation, it’s about as simple as not downloading it.

  6. Grey Hodge Says:

    lech: It’s that simple, unless you want the people who would download it to die in a fire, literally.

  7. Lech Says:

    Well then, it’s fairly easy to count all the haters out there. Isn’t it?

  8. pascalc Says:

    We have a Provençal version of Firefox in the works, the target audience is maybe 10.000 people at best, how dare we care about so few people :)

    Oh my god we have Basque and Irish versions of Firefox, Mozilla is actively supporting ETA and IRA terrorists !!! ;)

    BTW, the people that write these hatred messages and deny the very existence of the Kurdish language quickly forget that Kurdish is not only spoken in Turkey and is actually an official language in Irak…

    Klingon is an interesting idea but I’d really prefer an Elvish version of Firefox, *that* would be cool !

  9. crowder Says:

    A lot of these messages look like minor variants of each other without much to differentiate them in terms of logical process. Maybe the same poster or a handful of posters spamming? At any rate, it’s very silly indeed.

  10. Robert Accettura Says:

    You’ll always have people like this.

    I wouldn’t be surprised if we start hearing complaints about offering a Spanish version to users with US IP addresses.

    A few years ago you would have heard arguments about Irish and English versions of Firefox.

    The fact that people bicker over something so trivial just shows that people love racial/social/ethnic tension and unrest.

    I’d love to see a Pig Latin version. Even Google does it.

  11. agum Says:

    What do they mean by Kurdish “is not real”???

    I suggest posting the following on shiftdelete.net:

    “Please stop using the Turkish language. I have researched the Turkish language and have concluded it is not real. You all must think you are very clever, making up ridiculous looking words like “görüşünüz.” But this is really a childish game and you should grow up and start using US English like the rest of the world.”

  12. agum Says:

    That was sarcastic, by the way. WordPress ate my sarcasm and /sarcasm tags.

  13. James Napolitano Says:

    Maybe people will start sending in complaints to Google about Google Earth/Google Maps:

    “I noticed that you display [insert country they hate] on your maps. Did you research that [country] actually does not exist? I’ve been to the border, and there is just a giant black void there. Please update your maps to reflect this.”

    “Terrorists, Nazis, Communists, the KKK, and baby-eating aliens are behind the myth of [country] to try to gain legitimacy and form a base with which to invade Earth. You don’t support baby-eating Space Nazis, do you?
    I’m afraid that if you don’t fix your maps, me and everyone who thinks like me (all 5 of us, and our pets too!) will have to boycott your free services… unless we need to use them again.”

  14. cyfer Says:

    I know nothing about Turkish.
    But I’ve got two questions, why there are so many IE users complaining a localized Firefox? And when did Firefox get a new Fireworks name?

  15. Rory Says:

    Robert, I’m not sure anyone would ever have objected to an Irish language version of Firefox. Irish is the second official language of the Republic of Ireland. Whatever the relationship between the two nations of Northern Ireland (a country distinct from the Republic of Ireland and a member of the United Kingdom), no-one ever objected to the existence of the Republic nor to the idea that some small fraction of its population continue to speak Irish.

  16. Justin Dolske Says:

    I KISS YOU !!!!!

  17. Simon Says:

    We had this with Macedonian too: http://weblogs.mozillazine.org/djst/archives/004300.html

  18. James Says:

    I motion to remove support for American English because British is the only true English language and “American English” was used by American terrorists (or “patriots” as they would have you believe) opposed to British Colonial rule to spread their propaganda, and besides American isn’t even a language, anyway. That’s why it’s called English, not American.

  19. A.T. Says:

    This is even more funny, considering that the gouvernment owned public TV stations in Turkey have programs in Kurdish for their Kurdish speaking audience. Seems they don’t know what’s going on in their own country.

  20. Lionel Says:

    Crowder, I think you’re right. It’s got to be one guy, or a guy and a few of his friends (or change that all into female if you like).

  21. chrisv5 Says:

    Welcome to the Turkish mindset. It might only be surprising for Americans as they only care that Turkey is their NATO partner and let them use their bases to bomb others. Actually, Turkey is a country with a medieval mindset. We here in Europe know that (except our politicians)

  22. Steve Chapel Says:

    I love the comment that it’s the *Kurds* who are the racists. Doesn’t it even occur to this person that this very statement is itself racist? What a dimwit!

  23. Stavros Giannouris Says:

    Please ignore those mindless bots. The racist/ethinicist brainwash they were subjected to removed every trace of critical thought from them.

    The saddest part of it though is that this is coming from a country that claims to be wanting to join the EU.

  24. IAn McKellar Says:

    If we want to really lose all our Turkish users someone should do an Armenian Genocide translation. “&openFileCmd.label;” translates too “stop making me march through the desert!”.

    I remember GNOME having to decide on a policy for flags because there were issues shipping the Taiwanese flag associated with the traditional Chinese translation to mainland China.

  25. 香港公司注册 Says:

    Why not?I don’t think it is bad thing,if you mean volunteers must be rewarded?

  26. Erdinc AKAN Says:

    You have to understand Turkish people. We are suffering from a terrorist organization since August 15, 1984 that named PKK which is a abbreviation of “Partiye Karkere Kurdistan”, translates into “Kurdistan Workers’ Party”. Because of this terrorist organization, we are very sentive everytihng about Kurds, and Kurdish people. We don’t hate Kurds, nor we don’t like them. We are feeling the same as you feel as an american or european resident to Middle East people after 9-11 and the following terrorist attacs. But we don’t behave Kurdish people, like you behave Middle East people.

    If you ask me, I’m not comfortable about Firefox supporting Kurdish language, this might be an (and likely) political act, and I don’t want my browser to be a toy of politicians.

    If you want to know why we are so sensitive, please check this site http://pkk.ataturk.org/ or do a google search on pkk.

    We are just very sensitive, thats all.

    Ps:sorry for my poor English writing capabilities.

  27. Michael V. Says:


    Being a Mozilla contributor I HIGHLY doubt the decision to support Kurdish was political. It was likely the case that someone who was bi-lingual in Kurdish volunteered his time to translate Firefox into Kurdish. Thats how it is with many other translations.

    Most of the terrorists to America and its allies speak Arabic but we don’t ban Arabic from Firefox, because that would just harm the freedom and accessibility of the web that Mozilla is all about. If another country hated Turkey and wanted us to remove the Turkish language Firefox, should we listen to them?

    I’m sorry you feel this way and I understand your position but I (and I’m sure many others) oppose censoring Firefox in any way. People who speak Kurdish have as much of a right to use Firefox and the web as people who speak Turkish, Arabic or English.

  28. marcoos Says:

    Erdinc: Just one thing I’d like to add to what Michael wrote… As some Kurds support the Workers’ Party of Kurdistan guerilla, the Kurdish language should be banned or even deemed “non-existant”?

    (Oh, and am I a terrorist by saying that? I remember your government imprisoned an MP just for saying that both of your nations should live in peace and democracy)

  29. OMG Says:

    Can anyone find me a single Firefox Basque user who is not native in Castilian? or French? A single Frisian user who is not native in Danish? A single New Aramaic user who is not native in English? A single Irish user who is not native in English? A single New Norwegian user who is not native in Bokmal? (and the list will soon include Kurdish…)

    What IS the reason these translations exist? I understand it’s not intended to be a political statement from Mozilla, but it certainly is by those who made and submitted the translations. Mozilla is just naive and letting the nationalists abuse it.