What a Locale is.... (Re: [Fwd]: Response to Mark's message])

Addison Phillips [wM] aphillips at webmethods.com
Mon Apr 14 10:46:56 CEST 2003

Harald Tveit Alvestrand wrote:
 > I'm tempted to suggest a radical conclusion:
 > The "locale" concept is unsuitable for reference in communications or
 > data storage, and the word should therefore not be used on this mailing
 > list.

I don't think this is radical at all. I've been saying that for years.

The issue here, as I see it, is the same one I started with. If you have 
multi-lingual capable features in your system, you need external 
software to indicate a language and cultural preference in order to 
activate these features.

It turns out that software that uses HTTP or exchanges XML files already 
has tags that allow this. For HTTP this is Accept-Language. For XML this 
is the xml:lang attribute. These both use RFC3066.

If we could just solve the edge cases for language identification 
(notoriously The Chinese Problem) we have solved 98% of the "locale 
exchange problem" too, at least as far as I'm concerned.

There is still room for exchanging additional "international context" 
information. Mark's example shows how this becomes more of a generic 
software problem. There may be additional utility to exchanging 
regionally linked "locale" information. Whether it is worth doing that 
is an open question and, as noted, not appropriate here.

Best Regards,


Addison P. Phillips
Director, Globalization Architecture
webMethods, Inc.

+1 408.962.5487  mailto:aphillips at webmethods.com
Internationalization is an architecture. It is not a feature.

Chair, W3C I18N WG Web Services Task Force

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