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localization ( l10n)

Localization (sometimes shortened to "l10n") is the process of adapting a product or service to a particular language, culture, and desired local "look-and-feel.

Localization (sometimes shortened to "l10n") is the process of adapting a product or service to a particular language, culture, and desired local "look-and-feel." Ideally, a product or service is developed so that localization is relatively easy to achieve - for example, by creating technical illustrations for manuals in which the text can easily be changed to another language and allowing some expansion room for this purpose. This enabling process is termed internationalization. An internationalized product or service is therefore easier to localize. The process of first enabling a product to be localized and then localizing it for different national audiences is sometimes known as globalization.

In localizing a product, in addition to idiomatic language translation, such details as time zones, money, national holidays, local color sensitivities, product or service names, gender roles, and geographic examples must all be considered. A successfully localized service or product is one that appears to have been developed within the local culture.

Language translation, which is a large part of localization, can sometimes be facilitated with automatic language translation. However, much additional work is usually needed.

This was first published in September 2005

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