Norbert’s Corner

Mutilated Words

February 16, 2005

Working in internationalization, I’m confronted with shredded words every day: “i18n” (for internationalization), “l10n” (localization), and “g11n” (globalization). And recently, an imitator showed up: “a11y” (accessibility).

I don’t understand why people use these abbreviations. They’re ugly. They confuse readers. They’re not adapted to any human language. They’re inaccessible. Nobody else mutilates words in this fashion.

Can we please stop using them?

For those nerd gods who are absolutely unable to type the complete words, two hints: First, even in the abbreviated form, the words are nouns. You can’t use them as verbs. There is no word “internationalizationed”, so there’s no “i18ned”. Second, the abbreviations are not acronyms, so they’re capitalized like nouns. “I18n” can occur at the beginning of a sentence, but not in the middle, and “I18N” is always wrong. If these rules are too complicated, just teach emacs to expand the abbreviations.