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de   Almanya

Using Flags to represent Languages considered problematic

March 20 at 09:15

LingQ uses flags to visually represent languages, this can potentially create problems related to political sensitivities, inaccurate representation and makes it challenging to represent minority languages. It would be appreciated if LingQ could consider alternative ways of representing languages beyond the use of flags.

<Edit> Here are some potential arguments based on the following ChatGPT prompt: "give me some arguments for why it is a bad idea to represent languages by means of country flags in the context of UI/UX design." </Edit>

Inaccurate representation: Using flags to represent languages can be inaccurate. For example, using the flag of Germany to represent the German language may not accurately represent German spoken by Austrians and Swiss. Also, many countries have more than one official language or multiple languages spoken by different communities, resulting in ambiguity e.g. in the case of India whose flag currently represents Gujarati on LingQ.

Political Implications: Flags can be loaded with political connotations that may not be relevant to language learning. Therefore, not all speakers or learners of a language may identify with the country LingQ associates with that language. I wonder how Russian speaking Ukrainians feel about being represented by the flag of the Russian Federation?

Exclusionary: Some languages are spoken across multiple countries, and using only one country's flag to represent the language can be exclusionary to speakers from other countries. For example, using only the flag of Spain to represent the Spanish language ignores the fact that Spanish is also spoken in many other countries.

Perpetuating colonialism: the culture and identity of the former colonies are subsumed under the cultural and political power of the former colonizers. This can be particularly problematic in the case of languages spoken in former colonies where there is ongoing political tension or conflict related to their colonial past. For example, the use of the French flag to represent French-speaking African countries could be seen as insensitive to the ongoing legacy of French colonialism in Africa.


I just wanted bring this topic up and start a discussion. Maybe this isn't such a big deal and I making a mountain out of a molehill? Feel free to tell me, I'm interested in all opinions. I believe this topic will only become more relevant especially considering the upcoming languages on LingQ.