Yahoo! search goes multilingual

Over at Yahoo! changes have been made to the search so that it now has natural language search results. This is great news on two counts as this supports both internationalisation and accessibility so readers in languages other than the main language of the page can access content as well as screen and braille readers.

Natural language is the default language of the page and is indicated by providing the lang and/or xml:lang attribute in the html elements. The main language of the page needs to be indicated in the header with any changes in language coded within the body. So, if you are browsing search results in an English page that had a couple of search results in French lang=fr would be wrapped around the French text so that it can be picked up as French.

In terms of internationalisation this is important so that search engines can read text correctly, text and scripts can be rendered correctly and text can be more easily translated.

The accessibility benefits are also huge as coding language properly allows braille translation software to substitute control codes for accented characters and screen readers that support multiple languages to speak in the appropriate accent with proper pronunciation.

In their blog post announcing the news that their search now support language changes Yahoo! have added in a few recordings of before and after pages with language not coded and coded. This is really handy as people often ask me what a screen readers says when language has been coded.

Read and listen to Yahoo! search now supports natural language.

Find out more about the LANG attribute in the Web Content Accessibility Guidelines 2.0 and using the LANG attribute to identify changes in language.