L10N, T9N, I18N or G11N – a new language?

L10N, T9N, I18N or G11N – a new language?
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The terms L10N, T9N, or I18N are often used within the localization community. Rather than write long words such as Localization, Translation or Internationalization, we agreed to shorten them by replacing the inner letters by their number. Localization becomes L10N, Translation T9N and Internationalization I18N. G11N for globalization can also be found.

If you put yourself in the shoes of a consultant in the field of language services writing those words ten times an hour, typing the condensed form might save you five minutes, which means that during your entire working life you would have saved more than 50 working days. Furthermore, the abbreviations are used in several languages: US English, UK English and some other languages like French.

The four words have distinct meanings:

  • Translation (T9N) consists in converting text into another language.
  • Localization (L10N) means adapting content to its country of destination. It involves not only translation, but also adapting this content to the specific target, as well as a full validation of the localized content.
  • Internationalization (I18N) consists in adapting the product and its design so that it is easy to localize.
  • Globalization (G11N) is the process by which businesses or other organizations develop international influence or start operating on an international scale.

The line between the four abbreviations is thin. Localization agencies are keen on using the term localization because of the added value of the service, while in some industries, such as eLearning, our customers prefer “translation”. Valuable internationalization advice is often provided for free with the localization services as a pre-sales perk.

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