As the digital landscape continues to expand globally, the significance of Internationalization (i18n) and Localization (L10n) in software development cannot be overstated. Building upon our previous exploration of Website and App Localization, this blog delves into the broader spectrum of these practices and their transformative impact on crafting a universal narrative. This time, we shine a spotlight on embracing common European languages and unlocking the potential of African languages in the realm of software development.

Unlocking Diversity with Internationalization:

Internationalization lays the foundation for a software product to be adapted to various languages and regions without altering its core code. By embracing standardization and considering cultural variations from the outset, businesses can pave the way for a more inclusive digital experience. From English, Spanish, and French to Swahili, Yoruba, and Zulu, the possibilities are vast.

Tailoring Experiences for European Audiences:

When considering common European languages, the goal is to create seamless experiences for users across the continent. Adapting interfaces and content to languages such as German, Spanish, and Italian ensures that the software resonates with diverse European audiences, fostering a deeper connection and engagement.

Empowering African Markets through Localization:

The potential of African markets is immense, and localization plays a pivotal role in tapping into this diversity. Incorporating languages like Arabic, Swahili, and Hausa not only breaks linguistic barriers but also opens doors to new opportunities. By making software accessible in local languages, businesses can establish meaningful connections and gain trust in the vibrant African tech landscape.

Strategic Considerations for Language Inclusion:

  1. Linguistic Diversity as a Competitive Edge: Recognizing and incorporating diverse languages in software development is not just about meeting regional requirements but also gaining a competitive edge. The ability to cater to a multilingual audience positions businesses as adaptable and culturally sensitive.
  2. Navigating Challenges and Maximizing Impact: Acknowledging the challenges of internationalization and localization, this blog explores effective strategies to overcome linguistic and cultural hurdles. From Unicode support to context-aware translation, we unravel the keys to maximizing impact across global markets.

Success Stories in Multilingual Implementation:

Highlighting success stories of internationalization and localization, this section explores how global tech giants have strategically approached language diversity. Whether it’s the adoption of Spanish on a widely used social media platform or the expansion into diverse African markets, these case studies illustrate the tangible benefits of a well-executed language strategy.

Crafting a Unified User Experience: In conclusion, the fusion of Internationalization and Localization isn’t just a technical necessity; it’s a powerful tool for crafting a unified user experience worldwide. As businesses embark on the journey of reaching new horizons, embracing the richness of languages, both European and African, becomes a cornerstone for success in the ever-evolving digital space.

Standard German is recognized as the official language of Germany and the working language of Germany’s national government. This West Germanic language, which is also one of the official and working languages of the European Union and the most commonly spoken first language among the member countries, is spoken by over 95% of the German population. The Standard German language is closely related to Low German, English, Dutch, Frisian and Afrikaans, and its vocabulary is mainly based on the vocabulary of the Germanic branch of languages, however minorities of words are also derived from Latin, Greek, English and French. Due to the heavy influence of the Germanic people on Europe’s language development, some European languages, such as French and English, are considered to be Germanic languages.

From Standard German to Exotic Echoes: Unraveling Germany’s Multilingual Landscape

Germany is a multilingual and multicultural society, with a long history of many different dialects and languages being spoken within the country. Besides German, approximately 67% of the country’s residents have the ability to speak at least one foreign language, with 27% of the population being able to speak two foreign languages.

Some of the minority dialects which can be heard in Germany include Low German, Upper Sorbian, Lower Sorbian, Frisian, Romani and Danish. Low German – or Plattdeutsch – was historically spoken in all regions occupied by the Saxons and spread across the entire North German Plain. Today it is spoken mainly in northern Germany, by approximately 5 million native speakers. Low German is quite distinct from Standard German and more closely related to English, Dutch, and Frisian. Upper Sorbian is spoken in Germany’s historical province of Upper Lusatia (part of Saxony), while Lower Sorbian is spoken by Sorbs living in the Lower Lusatia historical province, which is today part of Brandenburg. Lower Sorbian is a Slavic minority language which is currently highly endangered. The Upper and Lower Sorbian languages are spoken by about 0.09% of Germany’s population. Frisian is a minority West Germanic language which is spoken by about 10,000 people living in Germany’s North Frisia region. Romani is spoken by about 0.08% of Germany’s population, while Danish is spoken by about 0.06% of the country’s population.

Language Learning in Germany: Embracing Multilingualism

Germany is home to many immigrants from all over the world who speak their native languages inside the country. Some of the immigrant languages which can be heard in Germany include Turkish, Polish, Balkan languages, Kurdish and Russian. One of the most important foreign languages taught in schools in Germany, apart from French and Latin, is English. Depending on the geographical location, schools in Germany offer classes in languages such as Spanish, Greek, Russian, Polish and Dutch. There are also frequent discussions in Germany regarding the recognition of English as an official language, with nearly 60% of Germans being in favor of recognizing English as an official language in the European Union, according to a 2013 survey.

With over 58 million speakers, English is the de facto national language of the United Kingdom, meaning that it is not recognized as the official language by law, but simply due to the fact that the country overwhelmingly speaks the language. It wasn’t always this way, however: for a few centuries after the Norman Invasion of 1066, French was the primary language spoken by the government and the upper class, whereas English was mainly present among the lower classes. Today, over 98% of UK residents speak English, while only 31% speak at least two languages, making the UK the third least-likely European country to speak a foreign language. Despite the fact that English has a clear linguistic dominance in the UK, it is far from the only language spoken by its residents, with a number of languages and dialects having shaped the country due to its proximity to Europe and long history of colonialism. English is most strongly represented in England, despite being spoken nearly everywhere in the country, including Scotland, Wales and Northern Ireland.

Beyond the English Isles: A Diverse Tapestry of Indigenous and Immigrant Languages

The areas where minority languages are most likely to be encountered are Wales and northern Scotland, which have their own regional languages. Before the French or the Germanic people came to the British Isles, there were certain languages spoken by the people already, and a few of them still exist in various forms to this day. One of these is the Scots language, which is the most popular language after English, spoken by 1.5 million people in Scotland. People who speak Scots generally learned it as a second language (with the first being English), however Scots is kept as it contributes to the national identity of Scotland. After Scots, the most commonly spoken language, with 560,000 speakers, is Welsh. Welsh is the only language in the UK which has a legal status, and it is treated as equal to English in the country, meaning that it’s used by the government and all public services have signs in both languages. Only 19% of Wales’ population actually speaks Welsh, however, as compared to the 99% of those who speak English, with the number of Welsh speakers actually declining. Due to the law, however, it is unlikely that Welsh is ever going to go completely extinct. Some of the other minor indigenous languages are Angloromani, Scottish Gaelic, Shelta, Irish and Cornish.

Bridging Cultures: The Lively Linguistic Medley of the UK’s Immigrant Communities

Along with these, the UK is home to 4.2 million speakers of various immigrant languages, due to the fact that the country has been a hub of immigration in Europe for as long as it has existed, particularly for people from regions of India and Pakistan. The biggest immigrant language is Polish, however, with over half a million speakers. The reason for this is largely due to the opening of borders to Poland after the country joined the European Union in 2004. In the following years, the UK stayed very open to immigrants, leading to an influx of other languages spoken in the country. The next most-spoken immigrant languages all come from India and Pakistan: Punjabi, Urdu, Bengali and Gujarati. Again, this is mainly due to England’s strong presence in India during the 19th and 20th centuries. The other most-spoken languages in the UK after that include Arabic, French, Chinese, Portuguese and Spanish.

Among its 10 provinces, there is a fair amount of linguistic diversity in Canada, particularly in large cities such as Toronto and Vancouver, which are swarming with languages from all over the world. English and French, however, are the most spoken languages by far, making Canada an officially bilingual country.

English and French: Canada’s Officially Bilingual Cornerstones

English is spoken by 58.1% of Canada’s total population, which translates to over 20 million native speakers. However, 86.2% of Canadians are able to conduct a conversation in English and 74.5% of them speak English at home. This makes English the overwhelming majority language by far, apart from Quebec – Which is predominantly French – and Nunavut, where Inuit is the native language of 83% of the population.

French is the second most widely spoken language in Canada. In 2016, the percentage of Canadians who could speak both English and French was at 17.9, its highest ever. However, in recent years there has been a slight decline in the prevalence of French as both a mother tongue and a language spoken at home, which is true even for the francocentric region of Quebec.

The Rise of Mandarin Chinese: A Growing Linguistic Influence

The next most spoken language in Canada is Chinese. Mandarin Chinese and Cantonese Chinese speakers make up for about 3.5% of Canada’s total population, or a little over 1.2 million native speakers. The influence of Chinese in Canada is increasing, with the number of people who spoke Chinese at home increased for nearly 17% between 2011 and 2016. The influence of Chinese in Canada is mainly a result of Chinese immigrants, whose first arrival happened prior to 1867, and again as recently as the 1990s.

Apart from English and French, there are 209 other languages spoken in Canada. Accounting for about 18.8% of Canada’s total population are other immigrant languages which can also be heard within Canada, such as: Punjabi, Tagalog, Spanish, Arabic, Italian, German, Urdu, Catalan, Fijian, Belarusan, Bilen, Kashmiri, Yiddish, Filipino and Korean. Punjabi is the fifth most common language in Canada after English, French, Mandarin and Cantonese, most commonly spoken by immigrants in Vancouver, Edmonton and Calgary.

There is a total of 67 Aboriginal tongues spoken inside Canada, accounting for about 0.6% of the total population, or 213,230 native speakers, with Cree being the most widely spoken Aboriginal language. Other Aboriginal languages include Inuktitut, Ojibway, Oji-Cree, Dene and Montagnais (Innu) which are spoken by more than 10,000 people, as well as those spoken by fewer than 100 people, such as Sarsi, Oneida, Comox, Southern Tutchone, Squamish, Cayuga, Southern East Cree, Siouan, Algonquian, Athabaskan, Wakashan and Iroquoian.

While Russian is the official language of Russia at the national level, there are also 35 other languages which are considered the official languages in different regions of the country. Being home to diverse cultures, Russia’s multicultural and multilingual landscape is manifested in the high number of different languages used all over the country.

Russian: A Dominant Language with Diverse Regional Flavors

With about 260 million native speakers, Russian is the most popular language in the country. It is legally recognized as the country’s official language at the national level, which is enshrined in the Constitution of Russia. As aforementioned, however, there are 35 other languages which are used as official languages in various other regions of Russia, as well as about 100 other minority languages.

The Russian language is classified as an Indo-European language and one of the four East Slavic Languages, and is one of the most widespread languages in the world, with speakers in Russia, Ukraine, Latvia, Kazakhstan, Estonia, Tajikistan, Georgia, Lithuania, Belarus, Azerbaijan and Uzbekistan. Russian is also used as an official language in the United Nations. Its written form uses a distinct type of alphabet based on the Cyrillic script.

Other official languages of Russia include: Ossetic, Ukrainian, Buryat, Kalmyk, Chechen, Ingush, Abaza, Adyghe, Cherkess, Kabardian, Altai, Bashkir, Chuvash, Crimean Tatar, Karachay-Balkar, Khakas, Nogai, Tatar, Tuvan, Yakut, Erzya, Komi, Hill Mari, Meadow Mari, Moksha, and Udmurt. With thousands of native speakers, these languages make up a significant portion of the total Russian population.

Some Russian languages are also considered endangered. One such example is the Kalmyk language, which is legally recognized as the official language of Kalmykia with about 80,000 native speakers in the country. However, as per UNESCO, which has labeled the language as “definitely endangered”, the Kalmyk language is in danger of extinction. Other languages which are in danger of extinction include: Northern and Souther Yukaghir, Udege, Enets, Orok, Ter Sami, Ket, Seto, Ingrian, Chulym, Ludian, Veps, Tofalar, and Chukchi.

Preserving Heritage: The Struggle to Save Endangered Languages

Some languages, which have already been declared extinct in Russia, have small populations of native speakers in other countries in the world. Such languages include Kerek, Ainu, and Yugh.

Some of the foreign languages used by thousands of expatriates who might have verbal and written knowledge of the national language, but who also use their native languages while communicating include English, German, Turkish, Ukrainian and French. These languages are mainly used among the major city centers in Russia.

Spanish is the most widely spoken language in Mexico, however the government also recognizes 68 Mexican indigenous languages. Over 130 indigenous languages have actually gone extinct over the years, along with their customs and culture. This is why the Mexican government has made great efforts in order to preserve and promote the native languages and culture in the recent years.

Indigenous Languages of Mexico: Nahuatl, Maya, Mixtec, and More

Today, there are over 7 million speakers of indigenous languages in Mexico. Mexico is home to over 45 groups of indigenous languages, which are further divided into 364 dialects. Some of the most widely spoken languages, apart from Spanish, include Nahuatl, Maya, and Mixtec. Nahuatl is spoken by around 1.7 million people, Maya is spoken by around 850,000 people, and Mixtec is spoken by more than half a million people.

Spanish is the dominant and the de facto language in Mexico with about 95% of the population speaking the language, however it is not recognized as the official language in Mexican legislation, which allows for more rights to be given to Mexico’s other languages, including the right to use indigenous languages in official documents and governmental communication.

Mexican Spanish is different from European Spanish, although daily and written communication has many similarities. The vernacular language and dialects of each region are different, however, and the Mexican vocabulary is more old-fashioned than the European variant of the language. One of the most distinct differences between the two is the accent, which is significantly different in Mexican Spanish than European Spanish.

Most Mexicans also learn English as a second language. At regional levels, Mexicans speak Spanish and English. In eastern Mexico, Otomi and Totonac are the official languages, and in central Mexico, Nahuatl is the official language. In the south-east of the country, residents usually speak Mayan languages.

Challenges in Language Preservation: Endangered Indigenous Languages

As per the National Institute of Indigenous Languages, 259 languages are in grave danger of extinction due to the languages having fewer than 100 speakers. One example of an endangered language is the Ayapaneco language, also known as Nnumte Oote.

Other minority dialects and languages include Catalan, Plautdietsch, and Chipilo Venetian, as well as the Yucatan Sign Language, Mexican Sign Language, and American Sign Language.

Turkish is the most widely spoken and the official language of Turkey, as per the Constitution of Turkey. Aside from Turkish, more than 30 ethnic languages exist in Turkey, however, only small numbers of people speak the ethnic languages. Thus, due to the dominance of the Turkish language, the ethnic languages are seen as minority languages.

Kurmanji, Arabic, and Zazaki: Common Ethnic Languages of Turkey

The common ethnic languages of Turkey include Turkish, Kurmanji, Arabic and Zazaki. Turkish is spoken by more than 70% of the population. Its widespread use as the official language and the educational language has contributed to its own growth, but it has negatively affected other ethnic languages by reducing their usage in daily communication. Kurmanji or Northern Kurdish is the most widely spoken ethnic minority language which consists of five major dialects: southern, northwestern Anatolian, Serhed, and southwestern Kurmanji. Arabic is popular among the Arabic community of Turkey, who use Arabic as their mother tongue, particularly the Mesopotamian Arabic dialect. The Zazaki language is spoken by the Zaza ethnic community, which has over 1 million speakers and a close relationship with the Kurdish language. Zazaki has three major dialects which have been influenced by the traditional homelands of the Zaza community in northern Iran and the Caspian Sea.

Preserving Cultural Heritage: Less Popular Ethnic Languages and Sign Languages in Turkey

The less popular ethnic languages with very few speakers include Turkish dialects, Laz, Armenian, Balkan and Circassian languages.

Aside from the ethnic languages, foreign languages that can be heard in Turkey include  English, German, French and Italian. Due to the interactions with foreigners and the western world, a need for the use of foreign languages has increased in the recent years. English, German and French are the most common foreign languages used in Turkey, with English having the widest coverage among foreign languages. Schools also offer elective courses in these languages, along with other foreign languages, such as Italian.

Turkey also has two main sign languages, the Turkish sign language and the Mardin sign language, used by more than 50,000 Turkish residents with hearing impairments. Mardin is an old sign language used mostly by older people in rural areas. Most users have instead adopted the Turkish sign language, which is the most commonly used language used by the people with hearing difficulties in Turkey.

Switzerland recognizes four languages as the national languages, and these are largely confined to specific regions, although speakers of all four languages can be found all over the country. These languages include: German – divided into Swiss German and Standard German (Hochdeutsch), Swiss French, Swiss Italian, and Romansh.

Swiss German: A Dominant and Diverse Language

Swiss German is the most widely spoken language in Switzerland, spoken by over 60% of the country’s population. Its speakers are mainly concentrated in the central, northern and eastern parts of the country. Swiss German is also called Schwyzerdütsch by the locals, and it represents a collection of Alemannic dialects which are no longer spoken in Germany and Austria.

Thus, Swiss German is vastly different than Standard German, or Hochdeutsch, which is learned by the Swiss from a very early age in school. As a result, Standard German speakers can communicate with Germans, Austrians and other German speakers with no issue. As there is no universal written form of the various Swiss German dialects, Standard German is used to write all laws, books, newspapers and other forms of written communication. As a result, Standard German is often referred to as Schriftdeutsch, which literally translates to “written German”. Standard German is also preferred as a spoken means of communication in more formal settings, such as during parliamentary discussions, educational settings, news broadcasts, public transportations and other occasions when the need for universal comprehension is greater. During the everyday life, however, dialects have inherent dominance over Standard German.

Swiss French and Swiss Italian: Regional Language Richness

Swiss French is mainly spoken in the western part of the country, where the French-speaking population accounts for approximately 20% of Switzerland’s total population. Major cities and most popular travel destinations such as Geneva and Lausanne are entirely francocentric. The differences between Swiss French and the French used in France are much less obvious as those between Swiss German and Standard German.

Swiss Italian is spoken by the Swiss Italian community in the south of Switzerland, along the border with Italy. They count around 350,000 speakers among themselves, which accounts for about 8% of Switzerland’s total population. Much like Swiss French, Swiss Italian can also be understood by any Italian-speaking individual relatively easily.

Romansh: Switzerland’s Smallest Official Language

Switzerland’s smallest national language is Romansh. Romansh is a Romance language with a large amount of German-borrowed words. With only 37,000 speakers, this language is recognized as the official language in the south-eastern canton of Grisons, where it is used as a medium of education and governance, and in the everyday life as a community language. Its speakers tend to hail from the more remote, mountainous parts of south-eastern Switzerland. Despite the small size of the Romansh-speaking community, the language is divided into five Romansh dialects used in daily life, with attempts made by the government of Grisons of introducing a universal “pan-Romansh”.