Language Selection Symbols

When you are on a website, in front of an ATM or starting a game, sometimes you have to select your language. Usually, the buttons you have to click in order to pick your language are the flags of the 'main' country of your language:

For English, this is usually the flag of the USA, for German, the German flag and for Spanish, the Spain flag. The problem is that this is a bit problematic, it may feel a bit strange for somebody living in Mexico having to select the flag of Spain, for an Englishman to select the USA and for an Austrian to select the German flag.

I wonder why there are no symbols or icons for languages at all. Would be really useful.
Maybe this is because most people don't think about languages that much. Good example: Did you ever try to change the language of Google because it preselected a wrong language for you? Good luck:

The language names are written in the language which is currently active. If google selected 'chinese' for me here, I would have had no chance to switch it to English or German at all.

thirteen comments, already:

yep that’s scary if I changed the language to Arabisch accidently
anyway Chinese is ok to me
Momor - 28 10 09 - 14:28

Seems like the flag method would help in the second situation, but it would be ideal to have all the flags for all territories. That way there is no need to read the words. You do have to know you territory’s flag though ;-).

Aaron Melcher () (link) - 28 10 09 - 14:32

Wouldn’t it be easier to enter the country-code? Type “AT” oder “DE” to select the country. I’d prefer this method.
KIENI - 28 10 09 - 14:55

Seems like this blog doesn’t like me.

Wouldn’t it be easier to enter just the country-code?
In a drop-down list I’d prefer to just type “AT” or “DE” to select the country.
KIENI - 28 10 09 - 14:57

Flags and country codes don’t work because there’s another problem – countries with sub-communities with different languages like Canada and Belgium.
steve () (link) - 28 10 09 - 15:14

That’s why google lets you switch the language on the frontpage when you type in a local url like ;)
Although one might wonder why they don’t display the according language by default. Who wants a german page when he types
Telepath - 28 10 09 - 16:45

The flag method is OK for me … I normally “know” the “main country” of the language I want to have. But: on my band’s homepage Americans have to think a little … I want the English flag for a language called “English” ;)
Brainsaw (link) - 29 10 09 - 07:14

” I want the English flag for a language called “English””
Do you use the flag of england or the flag of the uk? ;)
Matthias - 29 10 09 - 11:13

GOSH; might wanna fix your blog or something. :/
Matthias - 29 10 09 - 11:14

I think it would be simpler and more functional to just put the language’s name in its own language.
yomero () (link) - 29 10 09 - 20:12

of course you could use the ISO language codes (which everybody knows by heart of course), or better yet, the IANA ones, because then you wouldn’t have a problem with Klingon as well.

OTOH: why would you want to select a different language in google? I suppose you could just enter your search terms and press enter regardless of whether it says “google” or “el goog” on top of the page…
xaos - 30 10 09 - 10:50

The major problem with google is that according to the set language it gives you VERY different search results (And most likely simplified chinese brings up less results than traditional chinese)
sebastian () - 07 11 09 - 07:57

They’ve put wrong flag for Netherlands. It is Yugoslavian flag. xD
AlexMil () - 08 11 09 - 20:19

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