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 »  Articles Overview  »  Technology  »  Localization and Globalization  »  Internationalization in Localization

Internationalization in Localization

By Sahar Bajelani | Published  09/5/2010 | Localization and Globalization | Recommendation:
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Sahar Bajelani
English to Persian (Farsi) translator

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Localization was originally proposed in computer science. Internationalization, as a concept related to localization, also originated in computer science.
With the rise of publicity of computer and internet usage in all aspects of people’s everyday life, these terms found their way in other fields of science and they are not limited to computer science anymore.
Internationalization according to LISA is: “the process of generalizing a product so that it can handle multiple languages and cultural conventions without the need for redesign. Internationalization takes place at the level of program design and document development” (LISA 1998, p. 3).
Based on the above definition, generalization is an important concept in internationalization. Now the question is how a product can be generalized.
Generally, translation problems and difficulties appear in some common parts in all texts. These parts mostly carry the cultureــspecific features. Pym (2010) believes that internationalized texts supposed to be specific to noــculture. So, one way of generalizing a text is to remove its cultureــspecific elements and replace them with generic ones. By generic elements we mean an element related to all locales and recognizable in all cultures. But this does not solve the problem completely, because we are not just talking about some ordinary texts. In translating technical texts which have few culture-specific features, the problem of unــ generalizability occurs with terminologies and technical words. Some of these technical terms become generic during time. Some even change to jargon among specialists in that field, but there are always some neologism and problematic terms too. It is obvious that we should take problematic elements out and replace them with proper ones. In translating literary texts the situation is even worse, because nature of these texts is cultureـspecific; if we omit cultural features there is nothing to say. So, in most of the cases they are not internationalizeــable.
Internationalization is one precondition of localization. Through internationalization we broaden the use of the source, not their content. The result is a product localized in many languages without referring to the ST, just using the internationalized version and making the necessary changes based on the target users’ tastes and locale’s cultural and social situation.
From LISA definition of internationalization, mentioned above, it can be concluded that internationalization is done before localization because it happens at the level of program design and document development. Pym (2010, p. 123) also believes internationalization is the intermediary version of localized text. That means internationalization occurs after the source text preparation and before localization. Consequently, he suggests that internationalization is not a proper term and it is better to be named interlocalization or delocalization (Pym 2010, p.124).
When there is an internationalized version of a text, it can be localized in many targets. Internationalization is a oneــtoــmany process: one internationalized phenomena can produce many localized products. And this is very important in Economic Globalization whose aim is to release the product in many different locales at the same time (Pym 2010, P.124).
Internationalized products can not be used by people unless they are moderated to localized product. Some cultural elements, depending on the locale, should be added because an internationalized product is neutral. Pym believes “The ideology of internationalization nevertheless creates the illusion of a cultureــless technical world” (Pym, 2010, p.3) and he is right, it is just an illusion because in reality the world without culture is solid, hideous, unemotional and colorless.
The benefit of internationalization is easier and faster localization (Pym, 2010, p.124). Internationalization without localization has no use. By internationalization, the localized product will be usable for any market in any language and culture. The Microsoft term for internationalized product is “world-ready” (Pym, 2010, p. 125). In this sense globalization can be used instead of localization.
Internationalized products include all information needed for a product to be localized; they are specially made for translator and localizers. For the reason that internationalized texts are emptied from special concepts and just contain generic information, they are like some tools that are used to achieve a goal. They are not either used as texts to be read, nor do they have public usage as readable texts. They are texts to be used. Internationalized texts are functional and neutral; they are not understandable for everyone.
One example of internationalization is the binary codes of computer, since all our languages can in principle be reduced to basic binary codes and there is no culture ــspecific feature. When it is localized, it will change to a product that can be used by all computer users in that locale.
In conclusion, some texts are prepared to go international and this concept is different from ‘internationalized texts’. They have broader range of users than internationalized texts. As a result, the meaning of internationalization in localization is different from its general meaning.
When we talk about an internationalized text, the concept which is created in the ordinary mind is a kind of text that can be read and understood by everybody in every nation. But internationalization in localization has a more specific meaning. In this sense, all people are narrowed down to all translators and localizers.

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