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A great primer about a really interesting, often overlooked subject.
The W3C definitions seem a bit long-winded though (W3C long-winded? Never!). Can’t we just say “Internationalisation” is “to make international,” which, in terms of web design, means making your content/design/etc. as usasble as possible for people from different nations?
But here’s a pedantic point – is “internationalisation” even the right term to use? We certainly should (and do, I think, hence the pedantry) read “international” as meaning “all encompassing” rather than the literal translation of the word. In this day and age countries, particularly in the “Western” world, are very multi-cultural – would multi-culturalisation be a more relevant term than internationalisation? As an example, the Arabic version of BBC News clearly isn’t aimed solely at people who live in (or are even from) Arabic-speaking nations.
On a personal note, the thing I find most interesting about internationalisation isn’t so much language, or even design issues, but content. Most of the things I read on the web are USA-centric (and, I’m sorry to say it, it seems to me that American writers tend to be less internationally-aware (or accommodating?) than those from elsewhere). Expecting someone to know about this or that is often taken for granted, especially if it is firmly entrenched in a person’s culture, which is, quite understandably, subjective. I was listening to an American podcast this morning in which the DJ was relating a point to an American TV show which I had never heard of, let alone seen, and therefore, being a born and bred Brit, I didn’t understand her point. One of the great things about the interweb is that we can reach an international audience, but it can be difficult to shake off our own cultural, national, and even regional familiarities and assumptions – and there are inevitably lots of them (and it’s great that there are so many cultural idiosyncrasies around the world, right?).