Localization (L10n) is the process of translating software user interfaces from one language to another and adapting it to suit a foreign culture.
As said above, localization is not only about translating the text of a user interface. It also involves changes to unit of measure, date and currency format, text direction and anything else that differs from one culture to another.
Depending on the media, l10n may include the following practices, apart from translation:
- Text direction (e.g., arab script is written from right to left)
- Change in words' capitalization (e.g., in Italian it's bad form to use a capital after a colon)
- Changes in units of measure (e.g. in the US distance can me measured in miles, in Europe it's more usual to use Kilometers)
- Adaptation of idioms (e.g., in certain languages "It's raining cats and dogs" doesn't have any meaning, and would actually cause confusion)
- Use of different registers (e.g. in Japanese you don't use the same lexicon when adressing a friend as when adressing your boss)
- Use of different decimal separators in numbers (e.g., in English you would write 10.56, in Italian 10,56)
- Date formats
- Cultural references
- Paper size when referring to physical documents
- Different meaning of colors
- Compliance with local laws and regulations
- Local holidays
- Personal names