Internationalization of a system involves far
more than just translating its headings and text messages.
Here is a list of risks to consider. The list may be incomplete:
Please review the list and, if necessary, add to it.
- Translation quality: Does the translated text have the same
meaning as the original one? Is it still understandable. This
MUST be checked by someone who understands the local language.
Automated translation may produce bad results.
- Translation completeness: Are really ALL texts translated?
- Text length: Do the translated texts fit into the allocated
space? This is especially challenging for menus.
- Alphabet: Character encoding may be different. Some languages
have one byte alphabets, some use several bytes (Chinese,
- Text direction: Some languages (hebrew, arabic) go right to
left. But numbers go left to right.
- Cultural difficulties: The translated texts may not be
understandable because of cultural differences. There may be
hidden (and detrimental) meanings. (jargon, political or
obscene). Color use may be dependent on culture.
- Accessibility: This characteristic may suffer in a different
- Date, time: Different countries have different formats (day,
month, year order, when is year zero, solar versus lunar
calender). Daylight saving time (summertime, wintertime) may
have different rules. There may be different local holidays.
- Currency: Local currency is different and has to be marked.
Some currencies have no "cents", some have different price
representations (Chinese currency counts ten cents). Rounding
rules when coins are missing may be different. Dollars, Pesos,
Kroner and other currency names may belong to different
countries and thus mean different things.
- Measuring units: Most known is the difference between metric
units (meter, kilogram, Kelvin etc.) and imperial units (feet,
miles, pound, Fahrenheit). But any units may differ.
- Counting large numbers: In Western countries, thinking goes
through thousands, millions etc. and dots may be set to denote
this in numbers (like 1.000.000). In some languages, there is
different thinking (Chinese use ten thousand, hundred millions,
- Consistency with local laws and rules: There may be local
regulations that govern functionality of the system. For
example, certain kinds of encryption are forbidden in some
countries. Certain countries have different data
protection and record keeping rules.