This just sounds like a classic BBC cock-up/lack of co-ordination to me.
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From: [EMAIL PROTECTED] [mailto:[EMAIL PROTECTED] On Behalf Of Brian Butterworth
Sent: 08 December 2008 11:42
Subject: Re: [backstage] Linguistic discrimination?
Interesting point of debate.
This logic says that it is possible only to have an opinion if you speak the
language of the country that you have a though about.
This is just silly, I can like a part of Wales without speaking Welsh!
It may be impolite to talk about people abroad in English without starting a
separate topic in their own language, but it would be plain daft to say any
I mean, I have an opinion about the ταραχές στην Ελλάδα, but I can't see why
the BBC should have a debate about them.
2008/12/8 Dominic Smith [EMAIL PROTECTED]
Good morning list,
I don't suppose many of you are aware of this, but this morning the BBC
News Online website is being accused of bias by the Venezuelan
Ambassador to the UK for a very (IMHO) interesting reason.
For those who can read Spanish, the details of the accusation are on the
Venezuelan state TV website:
For those who can't, the brief summary is this: The (English language)
BBC News site currently has a 'have your say' section inviting comments
about Venezuelan President Hugo Chávez's performance in the ten years of
his Presidency at
There is currently no equivalent page on the BBCMundo.com (Spanish
language) website. For the avoidance of any doubt, I will clarify that
Spanish is the official language of Venezuela.
Given that Venezuela has a population of about 60% below the poverty
line and the majority of Chávez's supporters are known to be from the
poorer sectors of the society (who are unlikely to have had sufficient
education to speak English), the BBC stands accused of asking for
comment in English only in order to deliberately manipulate the results
to ensure that Chávez is discussed in predominantly adverse terms.
Whilst I am pretty certain this is more likely to be a lack of
communication between different parts of the BBC, rather than deliberate
bias, I can't help but feel that the Ambassador might have a valid point
here. I have suspected for a while that 'linguistic discrimination' is
an under-recognised topic amongst website designers of websites with an
international target audience who permit user feedback. The danger for
the BBC, of course, is that this sort of debate could undermine the
excellent work that has gone in to the development of BBCMundo.com and
BBC Mundo Radio in Latin America in recent years.
Without wishing to turn this into a political debate on this list, I
wonder what you think? How much discussion goes into deciding which
pages should invite comment and is the risk of 'linguistic
discrimination' considered in conjunction with the World Service's
different language services? Would it not be better, for example, for
the invitation for comments to be on the Spanish site and for the
comments to then be translated for the English site? Is there some form
of software platform linking the different bits of the BBC and language
services which allows for comments to be 'shipped' in translation
between different departments? Or perhaps the comments should be
displayed on the English page with a 'health warning' to warn that a
full range of opinions might not be expressed due to the fact that it is
only an English page?
(I do not work for the BBC)
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