Internationalization, Localization & Globalization

Internationalization (i18n)

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 place at the level of program design.

In other words, Internationalization is the process of planning, designing and implementing a “culturally and technically” neutral product, which can easily be localized for various cultures. Internationalization needs to be addressed in the earliest product planning stages. It is harder to adapt a product for other languages, nations, and cultures when the original designers thought only about use by English speakers in the United States.

i18n stands for the word “Internationalization” The number 18, represents the number of letters found between the “i” and the “n” in the word “Internationalization”.

Localization (l10n)

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.

It is the adaptation of a system for a particular locale. This includes localizing measurements (inches to centimeters), degrees (Fahrenheit to Celsius), currencies (US dollar to Indian Rupees), date formats (mm/dd/yyyy to dd/mm/yyyy), regional spelling (color to colour), number format (comma or period to separate thousands) and other culturally dependent information. It is relatively easy to localize a product designed with internationalization concepts.

For international e-commerce, you need to understand the tax laws, disclosure laws, payment methods, and custom duties, of the various countries.


Translation is simply the rewriting of text into a different language, while maintaining the meaning of the original. It does not address other localizing parameters.

An expert on translating content from one language to another may not know much about designing a system that makes such localization easy.

An expert on internationalization may not have the language facility or the knowledge of a particular culture to perform a localization.

Globalization (g11n)

Globalization addresses the business issues associated with taking a product global. In the globalization of high-tech products this involves integrating localization throughout a company, after proper internationalization and product design, as well as marketing, sales, and support in the world market.

Globalization in the broadest sense encompasses both internationalization and localization, as well as putting into place the requisite materials, financial, and personnel resources in a global market to support your product or service on a local level.

so, g11n = i18n + l10n, sounds interesting! 🙂

Why don’t I use my short name as S12r (Sreekandakumar) 🙂

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