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June 4th, 2009

i18n and L10n

I was reading a document yesterday when I saw the terms “i18n” and “L10n” used. I knew what they meant – internationalization and localization – but I really didn’t know why they ended up being abbreviated that way. A coworker and some site called Widi? Willi? Wiki… yeah, Wikipedia filled me in.

For i18n, the 18 represents the number of letters between the first (i) and the last (n) in the word. Per Wikipedia, this usage was put forth back in the 70s or 80s by DEC. And for L10n, it’s the same story – the L is capitalized to avoid confusion with a lowercase “i” or “l”. Pretty neat, eh?

No? What’s that you say? Lame? Yeah. It kind of is.

There are other numeronyms, none of which I’ve actually seen before. The vast majority have to do with accessibility and localization in software development. But what if we started applying this technique to other words just because they’re long?

My favorite would be a26m, although P43s is a close second.

Posted in Technology

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