Non-English languages & Open Source: politicians are mistaken

I red an interesting article about what the contestants to the French presidency think about Open Source (OS). Francois Bayrou’s thoughts were very interesting, and it seemed to me that he was right about OS. But i fell upon a sentence that shocked me.

Basically, he says that French OS softwares will contribute to spread the French language. I don’t think so. Let me explain: OS is all about people all over the world contributing to create a software. If you limit your community to French people, you mislead the spirit of open source: contributing to the world’s goodness. Help the world go forward (not necessarily without any money being involved but that’s another problem). But at least, it prevents others from having to reinvent the wheel. In the open source spirit I don’t think it is possible to limit oneself to one country, one language. Whether it be for the source code or for the user interface. If your project is successful, its interface will undoubtedly be translated into many languages. Besides, considering the code, would you imagine coding and commenting a {insert here your favourite language, mine is Java} program in a non English language ? What would it be like to have all those “for”, “while”, “print()”, “display()” mixed with French words ?

So in my opinion, seeing OS as a way to reinforce one’s language is a mistake. You will HAVE to use ENGLISH. So I believe that if politicians think about OS as a way to help their country as opposed to other countries, they are wrong. It’s a way to reinforce MANKIND.

More generally, it may be too soon to predict this but let me say: sooner than you think, nobody will think any more of “how can I improve the wellness of my country in regard to my neighbors ? How can I help spread the {insert your language here} language ?”. The unavoidable evolution of the world will make people think: how can I help my country the world ? How can I contribute to something that will help people, whatever country they are from, thus leading them to have time to help their neighbors too, thus, in the end, helping ME !


Yeah I know, I’m a bit too idealistic (that’s what a friend told me recently when I said: “a 4WD ? Are you crazy ?! It pollutes a maximum and prevents people behind you from seeing the road… If everybody acts like this it’s not sustainable…”) ! But that’s the way I think things are leaning toward. And even French candidates to the presidency are not aware of it !


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