Like any industry, the localization world has also developed its own special lingo, processes, and technologies to facilitate the development of the industry. To better understand localization, a good understanding of the industry jargons, as well as the underlying methodologies and best practice, is essential.
This Localization 101 section is devoted to such topics as simple terminology description like L10N, I18N and G11N as well as more in-depth discussions for subjects like localization risk and process management.
To get started, the three key words of the industry--localization, internationalization and globalization--are worthy of special mentioning. All three terms have developed corresponding abbreviations. Localization is abbreviated as L10N. The "10" signifies the number of letters between the letters "L" and "N". Similarly, internationalization is abbreviated I18N, and globalization becomes G11N.
LISA, another popular term used in the industry, stands for Localization Industry Standards Association. LISA has given precise definitions to each of the three key terms as below.
"Localization involves taking a product and making it linguistically and culturally appropriate to the target locale (country/region and language) where it will be used and sold."
"Globalization addresses the business issues associated with taking a product global. In the globalization of high-tech products this implies integrating localization throughout a company, after proper internationalization and product design, as well as marketing, sales, and support in the word market."
"Internationalization is the process of generalizing a product so that it can handle multiple languages and cultural conventions without the need for re-design. Internationalization takes places at the level of program design and document development."
Beyond these three key terms, the localization industry has developed a long list of acronyms to describe its many activities. For example, FIGS is used to describe the language set for French, Italian, German, Spanish, CCJK is used to denote Simplified Chinese, Traditional Chinese, Japanese and Korean, TM for translation memory and MT for machine translation.
Another popular term often used in localization circles is the word bi-directional. This term is used to describe languages like Arabic and Hebrew in which the text is from right to left, but numbers and Western text is read from left to right.
As localization continues to evolve with global economy, more and more terminologies and industry specific tools and processes will become available. We will continue to expand this L10N 101 list to cover new topics and points of interests. Please feel free to explore this section and let us know if you have any comments or suggestions.