Monday, April 7, 2008

g11n, i18n, and l10n

According to Wiktionary, Internationalization, i18n, is the act or process of making a product suitable for international markets, typically by making text messages easily translatable and ensuring support of non-Latin character sets. Similarly,
localization, l10n, means the act or process of making a product suitable for use in a particular country or region, typically by translating text into the language of that country or region and, if necessary, ensuring support of non-Latin character sets. Abbreviation: l10n (numerals one and zero, for the number of characters between the 'L' and 'N' usually in lowercase.). Globalization a.k.a G11N means ensuring the availability of a software product in languages other than the language of origin. Since in software field US dominates the galaxy so language of origin is traditionally US English.

Because in British English these terms can also be spelled 'localisation', the word is occasionally abbreviated as "l10n" (the number ten between the letters l and n) because there are ten letters between its first and the last letters. This is often done in software engineering to avoid confusion over spelling of the term.

Particularly in the world after 1990's, the term Globalization has become a household word around the world. The term globalization which is used in the mainstream media generally talk about the economic globalization . We are watching the world continuously shrinking and so the process of globalization means communication across the whole world also. Internationalization and localization are means of adapting products such as publications, hardware or software for non-native environments, especially other nations and cultures.

The distinction between internationalization and localization is subtle but important. Internationalization is the adaptation of products for potential use virtually everywhere, while localization is the addition of special features for use in a specific locale. The processes are complementary, and must be combined to lead to the objective of a system that works globally.

Subjects unique to localization include:

* Language translation,
* National varieties of languages (language localization)
* Special support for certain languages such as East Asian languages
* Local customs,
* Local content
* Symbols
* Aesthetics
* Order of sorting
* Cultural values and social context

In making software products, internationalization and localization pose challenging tasks for developers, particularly if the software is not designed from the beginning having these concerns in mind. A common practice is to separate textual data and other environment-dependent resources from the program code. Thus, supporting a different environment, ideally, only requires change in those separate resources without code modification; greatly simplifying the task.

The development team needs someone who understands foreign languages and cultures and has a technical background; such a person may be difficult to find. Moreover, the duplication of resources could be a maintenance nightmare. For instance, if a message displayed to the user in one of several languages is modified, all of the translated versions must be changed. Software aiding this task are available, such as gettext.

Since open source software can generally be freely modified and redistributed, it is more prone to internationalization. Most proprietary software is only available in languages considered to be economically viable only. But the open source i18n and l10n work is gigantic.

Internationalization is sometimes used interchangeably with globalization to refer to economic and cultural effects of an increasingly interconnected world.

While internationalization most commonly refers to the addition of a framework for multiple language support, especially in software, it sometimes refers to the process whereby something (a corporation, idea, highway, war, etc.) comes to affect multiple nations. This usage is rare; globalization is preferred. Because of globalization, many companies and products are found in multiple countries worldwide, giving rise to increasing localization requirements. Localization may describe production of goods nearer to end users to reduce environmental and other external costs of globalization.

The bigger and much larger part of the world is non-English speaking people.
Not all speakers of English as a second language throughout the world are not able to use the language efficiently in their work. National language identity will remain alive. In a real-world business environment, all users need to understand application output, accurately and in real time, and not just those who happen to be initiates into the English language.

Software globalization is making software products run anywhere. Globalization is giving choices to the user to choose any of the supported languages.
Software globalization should be started from the very beginning of software making. It starts in the beginning where people can choose their very own locales.

Known in this connection as Internationalization (I18N), product developers must deliver designs that allow for such features as selectable date and currency formats, as well as dynamic resizing of buttons and boxes. Users must be able to input, view, and print data using their own character sets.

Strictly speaking, an internationalized product is not usable in any region of the world unless it is localized to that specific region. It must also speak the local language in every sense of the word. Localization (L10N) is the process of adapting an internationalized product to a specific language, script, cultural, and coded character set environment. In localization, the same semantics are preserved while the syntax may be changed. Localization goes beyond mere translation. The user must be able to not only select the desired language, but other local conventions as well. For instance, one can select German as a language, but also Switzerland as the specific locale of German. Locale allows for national or locale-specific variations on the usage of format, currency, spellchecker, punctuation, etc., all within the single German language area.

Economic and software globalization are a connected process. The real penetration of e-commerce is entirely due to the globalized software. Software companies internationalize and localize their products simply because this makes good economic sense. It is driven by huge revenue opportunities outside the Anglo phonic world for software companies and translators alike.

Abbreviation, Symbols, and Icons

It should be noted that a scientific text not only consists of words and sentences, it also contains abbreviation, symbols, and icons. Therefore it is a problem of translator how they will translate these things. For ASCII (American standard code for Information Interchange), it is good to write it accordingly as we pronunciation it but we cannot take liberty everywhere. We can translate MBBS something like औषधि एवं शल्य चिकित्सा स्नातक in Hindi but it can produce confusion. And also if abbreviation is written without giving its full meaning, then translating it making a problem.


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1 comment:

johndrinkwater said...

You have a typo in your British translation – it should be ‘Localisation’ :)

n.b. also notice the quotes are different too for Brits.