Suggestions on avoiding using country flags in our app/website

We are starting to add country flags to languages on the app and are now debating what to do in some sensitive country cases as the most neutral solution. We want to avoid politics.

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Currently, the guideline would be to actually NOT use the country flags in the language picker. Just as you’ve mentioned, representing a language with a flag is not quite politically correct: how to represent “Spanish”? By the flag of Spain or a Latin American country? Which LatAm country? What about Spanish speakers living in other countries, in the US, for example?

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Hi there. I totally agree with you. Transifex should be out of political disagreements and in some cases it can be hard so be careful with it. Anyway, it is a great idea to add flags so good luck.

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Hi @thelma, in my case I live in Catalonia, Spain.
Catalan language is represented with the Catalan flag habitually…
I think that Catalan language isn’t the only one example in the world…
We are not a country, but in Spain, we have more languages, Euskara, Galician, Occitan… what flag do you add for them?
Finally, with all of this, I think you mustn’t to add any flag if you want to avoid politics.

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Thank you @jordibrus for your reply and input. This is definitely a good point!

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Multilingual countries are very common indeed. It can also be problematic when a country uses more than one script. For example, you can write Serbian in Latin or Cyrillic script.

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That’s true - thank you for sharing this example @gunchleoc

Over the last years we removed all flags in our software products (we build wood working machinery). We had same discussions as mentioned above.

The language selector shows english language name and localized language name like openSUSE did 10 years ago already.

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well everyone seems okay with the Idea, was this based on a real event of someone complaining about a flag as a language?!
sometimes it’s bothering and / or provocing to see a flag linked to a langugage,doesn’t mean we should stop using it because people will criticise anyway vistual interatction is really helpful in alot of cases to dismiss it just like that, let’s face it when people think of a country they automatically think of the language of that country, why reversing the idea should be wrong ?
=just an input=

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@R_Noureddine - no one has complained, but it was a discussion we had with a customer and we decided to extend the discussion to the community so as to get more ideas. Thank you for sharing your valuable input on this topic!

when people think of a country they automatically think of the language of that country

This only works for monolingual countries. Most countries are multilingual. Does the Belgian flag signify Flemish or French? The British Flag English, Cornish, Manx, Welsh or Gaelic? Which flag would you use for Low German? Or Frisian? Or what about Kurdish, which is spread over 4 countries, with the Kurds not having a country of their own?

It would be very nice if it was that easy, but it’s not. Adding a flag as a visual aid is OK, but adding text information is essential.

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well the fact is, people do indeed associate English with the British flag and i belive French is 100% associated with France flag not belgium, being Multilangual country or not,
Kurdish people do have a Flag even though they live in multiple countries…
to paraphrase the question, does it bother you or is it a problem for you to see the Biritsh flag for example represent the English language ?

No, it doesn’t bother me at all because it is already pretty wide-spread. The problem is rather with the Scottish flag: Does it represent Sottish Gaelic or Lowland Scots (which in turn has 2 major dialect groups, Lallans and Doric)? This can become a very emotional issue for some people, and you won’t want that kind of contention around your product.

do you translate a website or an application to Sottish Gaelic ?!

Yes, we have lots of projects for Gaelic, mostly software translation.

See https://www.foramnagaidhlig.net/ and http://www.igaidhlig.net/en/ if you want to know more about what we’re translating.

That’s very interesting stuff to know about. Thank you so much for the valuable information.