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Challenges in internationalization and localization

Globalisation chart(The internationalization and localization process (according to a charter of LISA web site.))

Internationalization and localization efforts have to focus on the following characteristics:

  • Language
    • The text encoded by computer
      • Alphabets/writing characters – most newer systems use the Unicode standard computer to resolve character encoding problems.
      • Different systems of numerals adjectives
      • The writing system from the left to the right in European languages (eg German), from right to left in Hebrew and Arabic, and vertical in some Asian languages.
      • The layout of complex texts
      • The different word processors, such as the concept called “cap” that exists in some written characters but not in all the various texts sorting rules, etc.
      • The plural forms in the text display, which varies according to language.
    • Text entry
      • Enabling keyboard shortcuts on any keyboard
    • Graphical representations of text (printed materials, online text images)
    • The sound of the voice
    • Subtitling of films and videos
  • Culture
    • Images and colors: the issues of intelligibility and cultural relevance
    • Names and titles
    • Numbers assigned by the government (such as Social Security number in the United States, the National Insurance number in the UK, the Isikukood in Estonia, and Resident registration number in South Korea), and passports
    • Telephone numbers, addresses and international postal codes
    • Currency (symbols, foreign exchange positions markers)
    • Units of weight and measure
    • The paper formats
  • Written agreements
    • The date and time format, including the use of different calendars
    • Time zones (UTC in internationalized environments)
    • The numbers of formatting (decimal, digits sort order)
    • The differences in symbols (eg, quotation marks (“”), in English, for citations, or rafters (« ») in French).
  • Any other aspect of the product or service being subject to regulatory compliance
    • Frontier incidents shown on maps (for example, the fact of not being able to show where is Kashmir, when one is Indian is considered a crime in India)
    • Censorship of the Internet

The distinction between internationalization and localization is subtle but important. Internationalization is the adaptation of “potential” usable products almost everywhere, while localization is the addition of special features to “specific” locale. Internationalization is performed once on each product, while localization is performed once for each combination between a product and the locale. The processes are complementary and should be combined to achieve the goal of a system operating on a global scale. Areas likely to include the location of the following:

  • The translation
  • The variety of languages at the national level
  • Special support for some languages as languages of East Asia
  • Local customs
  • Local content
  • Symbols
  • Sort order (alphabetically)
  • Aesthetics
  • Culture and social environment
  • The various laws and regulations (for example, tax laws, labor laws, etc.)

(Translation from Wikipedia. Image http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/File:Globalisationchart.jpg)

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