Tuesday, July 21, 2009

Translation And Transliteration

Though not directly a part of internationalization, translation and transliteration provide the basis for I18n.


Translation is the process of converting a fragment of text from one language to another language. Translation is done by either by human translators, or by translators which involve artificial intelligence. In applications where perfect translation is required, human translators are employed.

However in applications where perfection of translation is not the at-most priority, AI translators are used. Examples of such translators include, Yahoo Babel Fish and Google Translate.


Transliteration is the practice of transcribing a word or text written in one writing system into another writing system. In the case of I18n, this provides a method of converting the keyboard language to a desired language.

Popular sites like Orkut make use of this service to create messages in languages like Hindi, Telugu, Tamil, etc. Several services related to translations and transliterations are available on the internet. In fact, Google provides APIs to directly implement these features in our applications.


If there is an existing product where a locale change is required and it does not follow the MVC structure, the developer can use the concepts of translation and transliteration and there-by migrate the application to the required locale. The language part is then reviewed by a language expert.

Even during internationalization, the resources bundles can be created for various languages using these concepts and they can then be offered to review by a language expert. These concepts are also useful when developers are interacting with users who do not know English through mails or documents to get an initial feel of the requirements.

Support for a product can also be made cost effective where the user logs issues in native language and the person supporting can understand the issue at high level using translation concepts. Reducing the time requirement of language expert is a significant cost saving in projects as these experts charge very high.

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