Blogging bilingually

by Suw on July 10, 2004

I had long conversations with Steph whilst at BlogTalk about the implications of blogging bilingually. I have a Welsh language blog which I never update because I find it hard to get the enthusiasm together to go and open up Blogger. So, I've decided to experiment a bit and blog in both English and Welsh here.
You won't notice the Welsh posts on the main page (or the main RSS feed) because they're all stuffed into a special category, Cymraeg, which has its own RSS feed.
I am not sure if this segregation is a good thing or not. The reason that I've done it is because the majority of my readers don't speak Welsh, and I really don't want to clutter up the blog or the feed with material that they can't understand. On the other hand, I feel a bit bad marginalising Welsh. The alternative is for me to put everything in the feed and on the main page, either as full posts or using excerpts for the Welsh posts.
If you keep a bilingual blog, please let me know what you do and what you think as regards how I've got this set up. All comments and ideas welcome.

Anonymous July 10, 2004 at 5:57 pm

My personal play blog “McBlog 2.0” is in English and in French. However it's mostly english and I haven't really had any comments from my known or unknown french readers and anyway I say it on the main page : “Random posts sometimes in french sometimes in english”

Anonymous July 10, 2004 at 7:11 pm

I'm not a bilingual blogger, and I stand in awe of all who are. Here's an awesome bilingual blog that I think you might like to look at: hailey xie

Anonymous July 11, 2004 at 9:54 am

Hi Suw,
I blog in English Dutch and German, although I find I use the English blog most. I don't want to repeat myself, so I do not translate posts. What turned out to be difficult was to find a topic of conversation in the two other languages. And also because it was a rational decision to start blogging in Dutch and German, it still often feel artificial to decide to blog it in those languages, as if blogging in the English blog seems the most natural way to do things.
More important the feedback in the non-english blogs is far less, in Dutch even non-existent. Which does not help in keeping it up either. Which in its turn makes the chance on feedback smaller. Vicious cycle and all that.
I have arranged it in the same way you describe, by using categories, by the way.

Anonymous July 11, 2004 at 11:36 am

Ton, I agree with everything you say there.
I can't face translating posts because I'm not a native Welsh speaker so I have to deal with the effort of using a language which does not always come so easily to me. I am pretty fluent, but my dictionary remains well thumbed. When I had the two blogs I would blog about totally different things in the different langauges – I don't have the ability to blog about complex concepts in Welsh so my blog posts tend to be simpler and therefore, I fear, boring. That doesn't help with the motivation either because I hate the thought that I might be being boring!
As you say, making a decision to blog in a language other than English does make it feel rather artificial, particularly as I'm thinking not 'what do I want to blog about today?' but 'what am I capable of blogging about in Welsh?'. The content of the blog is limited not by my imagination but by my fluency.
Luckily, I do get some feedback in Welsh, even on some of my English posts, and have always been open to having Welsh language conversations on here. Indeed I have already had one comment in Welsh in the new Cymraeg section, so that's quite pleasing. (Thanks Rhods!)
Atm, my Welsh blogging output is likely to remain quite low, but I wonder if, as time goes on, it might suffer category bloat. I'm not really sure. I need to do a bit more experimenting with categories and see how it pans out.
Certainly, though, it's easier to do it with categories than to use two blogs, like Joi does for his English and Japanese blogs. Tried that, didn't work for me, although how much of that is down to me not liking Blogger is anyone's guess. 😉

Anonymous July 11, 2004 at 12:24 pm

When I started blogging in French, I didn't get any feedback. But as I persisted, readers started hanging around. The more you blog in one language, and the more regularly you do it, the more you'll build up your readership (stating the obvious, sorry).
And also, we have to remember that non-weblogging visiters are pretty much likely to lurk and not comment (we bloggers comment easily, because we're used to the whole “writing-on-the-web” thing). No comments doesn't mean you aren't read.
What really started my French weblogging was when I hooked up with two other French-speaking webloggers (Karl and Pascale) and started discussing technical web design stuff in French in early 2001. Amongst other things, this prompted me to launch, which publishes french translations of web design articles. Since then, the French-speaking web has taken off, and I like to think that I played a part in that, or at least in helping interested French-speakers to get together and reach a kind of critical mass.
All this is to say that I believe that non-responsiveness shouldn't really be a reason to not blog in a certain language. There are Dutch speakers on the web (I'm taking your example, Ton, but of course this is valid for any other language spoken in regions where people have Internet access), and I'm sure they can find you. By blogging regularly in a minority language, one ends up playing the role of a magnet and attracting other potential authors in that language.
Another thing I noticed, and that I'll mention here while I'm at it, is that visibility in an “other language” blogosphere tends to be much easier to achieve than in the anglo-saxon blogosphere — simply because there are less people writing the stuff we are writing in that language, and already dozens of others doing so in English.

Anonymous July 15, 2004 at 4:05 pm
Anonymous July 24, 2004 at 2:35 pm

Dw i'n blogio dim ond yn y Gymraeg, ond mater o amser mwy na dim yw hynny. Does dim digon o oriau yn y dydd i mi wneud cymaint o flogio Cymraeg ag ydw i eisiau, heb sôn am gyfieithu pob cofnod.
Dw i erioed wedi poeni gormod am faint o'r ymwelwyr oedd yn gallu deall, ond mae Morfablog wedi bod mwy “hen yskol” erioed fel blog – it's all about the links, man – ces i lawer mwy o sylw gan ymwelwyr di-Gymraeg na chan siaradwyr Cymraeg, o leia yn y dyddiau cynnar. Mae'n fwy pwysig (i fi, ta beth, YMMV ys dwedir yr Americanes) i bostio yn y Gymraeg a gobeithio sbarduno diddordeb yn yr iaith yn y rhai sy ddim yn ei deall, nag i roi popeth iddyn nhw ar blât.

Anonymous July 27, 2004 at 9:44 pm

Ti'n iawn. Dw i'm eisiau cyfieithu – dwi'm yn gweld y pwynt o gwbl. Ond mae'n jyst mater o ffeindio petha mod i'n gallu sgwennu am yn y Gymraeg. Rhaid imi ddechrau meddwl yn Gymraeg unwaith eto.
O, a gyda llaw, mae'n neis iawn i dy weld di yn blogio eto. 😉 Ac i dy weld di yma.

Anonymous July 28, 2004 at 7:18 am

Erbyn hyn, dw i'n ffeindio fe'n haws i sgwennu yn y Gymraeg na'r Saesneg. Dw i yng nghanol trafodaeth Saesneg trwy ebost sy'n cymryd lot mwy o amser na'r holl ddadlau ar faes-e a'r blogio dw i'n wneud. Mae'n debyg mod i ddim yn disgwyl y bydda i'n wneud sens yn y Gymraeg, felly dw i ddim yn wastraffu llawer o amser poeni am beth dw i'n dweud.
First thought, best thought, fel dwedodd Kerouac.
(That's not writing, it's typing, fel dwedodd Mailer.)

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