RE: Official ISO 3166 country codes online

From: Doug Ewell (
Date: Wed Dec 01 1999 - 10:00:37 EST

Marco Cimarosti wrote:

> I too agree: national flags used to symbolize languages are definitely
> inadequate.
> This practice implicitly makes stupid assumptions like:
> - All Britons speak English (that would upsets all Welsh and some Scots);
> - All English speakers are Britons (that would upsets all Americans,
> Australians, Nigerians, etc.)
> - And so on for any other language...

The first time I was in continental Europe and started seeing British
flags to indicate "Here follows the English-language version of this
sign or pamphlet," I smiled at the apparently nave assumption that I
must be British if I wanted to read English. But at least in e.g.
France, the majority of English-speaking visitors probably are British,
not American, so the assumption was not that bad. I did get used to
looking for the British flag, so the symbology did its job.

The best symbol I have seen is the one displayed in the Microsoft Windows
toolbar when you install multilingual support and want to switch between
keyboards. Just a square with the two-letter abbreviations "En", "Fr",
"It", and so forth. Even if Latin is not your native script, you can
learn and identify *two letters*. Simple, inoffensive, and best of all,
fits easily in a 16x16 icon.

-Doug Ewell
 Fullerton, California

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