Saturday, March 14, 2009

Do we need l10n?

In my mongolian blog, I've posted my thoughts on l10n, and asked whether we need l10n or not. In it I've tried to summarise reasons why we need l10n, what problems we faced during these years, and how we can solve it. Most people expressed that they need it and it's essential to our IT development. It will expand our computer users base, make them more active users. But some people were concerned that localization will slow down english learning, thus we'll have big gap between developed countries when we're trying to closely follow them. In the end, most people endorsed the idea and we decided to form localization team within our Linux user group. From now on we won't talk about whether we need it or not, but how to do it right.

I think that I need one more post on this topic and prove that l10n is essential in our IT development and encourage people to participate in it. Then I need some info on what was changed and what was achievement when you had localized open source software stack, GNOME for example. Thank you in advance. Stay tuned...


mae said...

We'll since I can't read the original post, I'll reply here. And this very thread presents a very interesting opinion by itself.

I do not understand your language neither (I assume) you understand mine (spanish) and yet we are able to talk given that we both learned English. And that is a powerful statement.

Now you and me are both technology people and our goal is to make technology useful for the rest of the world, just like the doctors on our countries goals are to heal people, which brings up a question. Will a doctor tell you, you need to learn to speak his language (the equivalent of coder's speak) in order to cure you?

funrun said...

I speak English in an English speaking country, so I'm not an expert on this, but I don't see why localization would impede the internationalization of your workforce.

Those who need to learn English will, regardless of your localization efforts. I suppose there is the risk that those who should learn English, wouldn't because you have a Mongolian version, but that is a separate issue from providing a localized version.

The localized version contributes to maximum accessibility of technology because they only have one hurdle to overcome (technology) rather than two (tech and English). Plus not everyone (say older people) will have a desire or need to learn English.

There is the possibility that exposure to technology (made easier by a localized version), and its effective shrinking of the world (through the internet), will actually increase the relevancy of learning English to more people (those who don`t have an immediate economic or educational incentive to do so might simply due to exposure).

Plus, by having considered localization, you are not just outright installing an English version with (likely) US standards, but considering what things are unique that are worth protecting (a blending of rather than replacement of English conventions). (In Canada, we speak English, but there are local spellings and date formats, while minor, are simply that - Canadian)

So, I think both issues (localization of software and internationalization of your workforce) are important issues, but they are distinct. I think that the one enables the other, rather than inhibits it, and localization leads to greater end broader benefits than simply adopting English based software.

samraat said...