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    The “identify language by location” issue is worse than anything account related honestly - I don’t use a google account, but if someone links me to a gdoc or google groups or something - I get Thai “in-page chrome” - all buttons, navigation etc is in a language I can’t read and barely speak.

    Why? Because google has apparently decided that the Accept-Language header is a filthy communist plot and can’t be trusted.

    This is more of an issue than the one described in the article because there is no obvious way on any google pages to change language. The author does understand the language shown to them it’s just not the one they wanted.

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      Why? Because google has apparently decided that the Accept-Language header is a filthy communist plot and can’t be trusted.

      you really couldn’t in the mid-90ies when the internet started taking off (it was normally set to the language spoken by the people who made the browser).

      Unlike other things from the 90ies (like websafe colors), this one seems to stick around, possibly because only relatively few people are affected by it and because it doesn’t impact how the site looks on the CEOs machine (unlike websafe colors).

      By now Accept-Language is very reliable and should be treated as a strong signal. Much stronger than geolocation or other pieces of magic (which also regularly fail spectacularly in multi-lingual countries. Damn French Youtube ads here in Switzerland)

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        I mean - ok but that’s 25 years ago. You couldn’t stream video in the mid 90s, you couldn’t browse on a mobile device, shit you couldn’t do most of what people do now on the web in the 90s.

        Even then it sounds like a bad idea - false positives where the users language isn’t that of accept-language means that they’re already managing to use a browser in a language other than their own.

        Ultimately there are numerous better options that allow for potential mismatch of the browser language - but google uses none of them. They just base it on IP country code and fuck anyone who’s disadvantaged by it.

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          You could definitely stream video for most of the 90s… I certainly did.

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          Funny that you should mention French ads on YouTube in Switzerland, no later than yesterday I was complaining on IRC that I only get Swiss German ads on YouTube and Spotify although I’ve been living in the French speaking part of Switzerland forever. It’s even more surprising because I don’t speak German or Swiss German and Google absolutely certainly knows this about me, the locale sent by my browser is fr-CH, etc.

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          And what a brain-dead decision not to make switching language the easiest possible UI interaction. At least some sites make it easy e.g. by listing the desired language in that language because guess what - I don’t know what the word English is in Arabic.

          Not to mention the fact that there are MULTIPLE valid languages for many locations.
          Worse still that so many other sites have blindly copied the idea. God help you if you travel or spend significant time where you don’t understand the local language and don’t want to be forced to log in (or even have an account).

          I wrote a greasemonkey script to add a hl=en slug across all google locations and I dread the day they decide not to respect that.

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          For anyone having this problem, generally adding hl=en as a query param will let you choose the language on many google properties (not just Search, but also docs)

          (you can do hl=fr or hl=ja as well, it’s a language selector)

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            Or just use bing? Has a really easy settings->Language button where you can just choose…

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              To be honest Google has such better search results that it’s worth the trouble

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            At one point in my life, I finally got my act together and consolidated the number of email addresses I used regularly from around 10 to 3. One of these was a Gmail account, and I happened to be living in Japan at the time.

            Google has never forgotten this, but isn’t sure that it matters either, as if it can’t make up its mind about what to do with that information. I still occasionally see a お待ちください when authenticating or switching Google services. I have not noticed a pattern as to when this occurs.

            On international travel to non-English speaking countries, my first touch with Google used to send me to google.co.jp. It used do this and display google.co.jp in Japanese. Then for a while it would send me to google.co.jp but have it in English. Now I get the local country TLD, but in English or Japanese, and with an offer to switch to the native language.

            I am not bothered by this, just intensely curious what the actual inputs are to the function that determines what version and language Google sends me to!

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              At some point in the early aughts, I told Google I lived in Australia. Like you, for years, it would bounce me through google.com.au when in a new country or doing SSO. At some point in the last handful of years, it has decided I do live in the US, and stopped doing that.

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              Although I live in the middle of EU and speak Czech, I prefer to have my phone set to English same as my laptop and other electronics. I dislike reading crude translations and most software I use has English as it’s primary language.

              Recently, Google has decided that I cannot understand Czech local names on it’s Maps and started translating them to English. Looks like adding Czech to the languages I understand in Google preferences did the trick as it has stopped translating metro station names.

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                A friend of mine is Québécois and lives in a French-speaking town on the border of English-speaking Ottawa. Using Google maps navigation is apparently a huge pain there, because the text-to-speech doesn’t know how to flip between languages mid-trip.

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                  It also cannot cope with Dutch street/place names when giving instruction in English. It really mangles things like Lage Rijndijk and Willem de Zwijgerlaan.

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                  Silicon Valley doesn’t get out much

                  This made me smile :-) A real writing gem :-)

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                    For me, it’s really annoying with things like Google News.

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                      My Google News has been stuck on news about Belgium for a while now although I wanted France… I couldn’t find a way to change it last time I checked…

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                        My Google News has been stuck on news about Belgium for a while now although I wanted France… I couldn’t find a way to change it last time I checked…

                        Go to news.google.fr .

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                      Prepend Esperanto or any other language you can kinda pick through to the Accept-Language settings in your browser and see a very different Internet experience. It’s fascinating to see what sites rely on an explicit user action, what sites rely on geolocation, and what sites rely on the user agent settings. I wish far more obeyed the latter.

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                        Actually…. there has been some progress. On Android, it lets me flip between English and Italian depending on what I’ve been typing, and it just figures it out, rather than having to reach for a setting. Like someone else mentions, the voice directions are atrocious if you happen to be in the wrong spot: my wife and I always got a kick out of hearing how it’d mangle names in Italy when reading them in English.