i18n vs l10n — what’s the diff?

Jeff Beatty

2

Internationalization (i18n).
Localization (l10n).
Globalization (g11n).
Localizability (l12y).

What does it all mean? In this business, there are so many alphanumeric acronyms that it can be really difficult to keep them all together. So where is the line drawn between some of these, like i18n and l10n for example?

I believe W3C said it best when they wrote the following:

Internationalization is the design and development of a product, application or document content that enables easy localization for target audiences that vary in culture, region, or language.

Localization refers to the adaptation of a product, application or document content to meet the language, cultural and other requirements of a specific target market (a locale).”

In other words, i18n allows applications to support and satisfy the needs of multiple locales, thus “enabling” l10n. It is because of i18n that we are able to localize all of the Mozilla project within its pantheon of applications and open the web up to the world!

Believe it or not, the Mozilla project has a long history of using i18n as the base for the L10n of its products. After some digging through the Mozilla doc archives, I found this gem, which briefly discusses the role of i18n and l10n at Mozilla since its inception. Pretty cool, right?

Now, say you wanted to get involved more directly in Mozilla i18n. What could you do? Since a lot of the i18n groundwork has already been laid, it can be difficult finding where one could contribute to this area. After some careful consideration, however, here are some ideas:

  • Study up on Mozilla i18n (or localizability) infrastructure and write about it in the MDN.
  • Test your localizations for i18n-related bugs, like any character issues (e.g., character input, direction, display, UI real estate, etc.).
  • If you find i18n problems, file those bugs!
  • Talk to the l10n-drivers about where there might be a need.

Want to know more or have something on your mind about i18n? Please comment!

Resources
W3C International. World Wide Web Consortium. Retrieved 2011-12-13.

2 responses

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  1. Milad wrote on ::

    Thanks!

    Reply

  2. Selena wrote on :

    If you’re interested to localize web software, PC software, mobile software or any other type of software, I warmly recommend this web-based l10n tool: https://poeditor.com/

    Reply

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