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published: April, 2002
The first W -- A Web Site for Non-English Speaking Audiences
Session: World Cultures, World Strategies
The first "W" in the acronym "WWW" as we all know stands for "world." Most Museum Web sites -- and for that matter most of any kind of Web site in the United States -- offer very little in languages other than English. This is understandable. Our main audience is English speaking. However, there are opportunities, when we seek them, to reach out to audiences in languages other than English.
This paper presents one such opportunity. In it, I will discuss how the project came about, why we made a decision to translate parts of the site into two other languages, what it took in terms of technology to successfully display these languages, and the results of our decision.
The Web site presented is "Holocaust Era in Croatia: Jasenovac 1941-1945" (www.ushmm.org/jasenovac). The decision was made to translate this Web site into the Serbian and Croatian languages. The Serbian language uses the Cyrillic alphabet while Croatian uses the Latin alphabet, but with its own diacritics. But our endeavor was even greater than the adding of these two languages for we also made the editorial decision to represent in the English text the foreign diacritics when appropriate, for example, with the word "Ustasa." This paper will present the point of view that the effort was worthwhile, but that to really be effective a variety of Museum staff -- from fundraising to communications -- must be involved.