The time has come, I believe, for a regular face-to-face event series which will bring together the people in the Vancouver area who work in technology globalization, internationalization, localization, and translation (GILT) for networking and learning.  The Vancouver tech community is large enough that we have a substantial GILT population. In the last few weeks, I’ve heard from several of us who are interested in making something happen. My ambition is to start this series off by mid-December 2014.


I envision a monthly, perhaps quarterly, meeting. Probably in the evening, probably a couple of hours long. It should have plenty of opportunity for networking, and a little bit of formal programming to let us learn from each other, and hear what our community is up to. I think it should be a grassroots event, open to all aspects of the local GILT community.

My role model is IMUG, a 25-year old meeting of technology globalizers in Silicon Valley, California. Originally known as the International Macintosh Users Group, it offered a place for technology developers and users alike to help each other figure out how to use languages beyond what the Macintosh officially supported. But the scope grew. It was nourished by the participation of local technologists, who often were the very people developing the best of language support in technology products of the booming personal computer and internet industries. But at the same time, it remains down-to-earth, and open to the quirky private individual who is simply curious about the topic.

Another role model is VanDev, a Vancouver-based monthly software engineering meeting. The charm of VanDev is its event structure, which lures participation with a light amount of teaching, and rewards it with a lot of networking and geek fellowship. Each meeting has a speaker and a topic. But the speaker has only 20 minutes of the 2.5-hour meeting time. Before, everyone in the room gets a chance to introduce themselves. After, there is a Q&A, but then the room dissolves in to a vigorous free-wheeling discussion. Some cluster around to go into more detail with the speaker about the meeting topic. Some seek out another participant who shares a technology interest. Recruiters offer jobs. Newly-arrived engineers look for job-hunting tips. And friendships bloom.


Our little language and technology community has fuzzy boundaries, and we have no agreed-on word for ourselves. But we include disciplines and activities like:

  • Localization (l10n), the adaption of a (technology) product for a market, culture, and language other than its market of origin. For instance, changing a B.C.-developed English-language software product so that it can be used in Asia in Korean, Japanese, and Chinese languages.
  • Translation (t9n), the linguistic work to render written words and texts from one language into another. Especially, as part of localization, translating the words in a technology product’s user interface or content, and translating its marketing, sales, and support literature.
  • Internationalization (i18n), the software engineering work to generalise a technolgy product so that it can be localized faster, cheaper, and more easily. This ranges from wor
  • Globalization (g11n), the gathering of market requirements from markets other than the market of origin, to inform the work of localization. Or, the development of additional features in a technology product which are required by the target market, and not by the market of origin. (Our community agrees this term is important to us, but has not agreed on what it means.)
  • GILT, a cute acronym embracing Globalization, Internationalization, Localization, and Translation.
  • Interpretation, the real-time rendering of spoken words from one language into another. It complements translation.
  • Culturation, another word sometimes used for the development of additional product features for a foreign target market.
  • Industries like software, web services, games, films. All are localized. The Lower Mainland has a strong presence in all these industries.
  • The product developers involved in localization, including software engineers, product managers, project managers, localization engineers, marketing, and sales people. Also, the makers of frameworks, tool sets, and standards which guide the localization and internationalization.
  • The service providers involved in localization, including translators, project managers, language tool developers, linguists. Language Service Provider (LSP) firms are prime candidates.
  • Users of localized products, particularly those from the target markets, who are the best judges of how well the localization succeeded.
  • Interested observers of globalization or localization or translation, even if they are not participants, are welcome participants.

To be continued…

That’s enough for a first installment. Come back soon for part (2) “Why and Naming”, and (3) “Where, When, and How”.