The mission of Open Internet Lexicon (OIL) is to build an online dictionary of Web terms (words and short phrases) in many languages. Our goal is to reflect current Internet and Web usage in many countries. The dictionary will be open for all who are building multilingual web sites or single-language web sites. Look at what we have done so far.

The combination of a language and a country is known as a "locale," e.g., French-Canada or Portuguese-Brazil. The Open Internet Lexicon initiative is looking for skilled translators in each locale who would like to work as "localizers." We hope to have at least one person in each locale translating a large collection, perhaps a few thousand, words and phrases.

Are you a native speaker of a language not represented here? Are you a resident of a new locale, or do you regularly surf the web there? Would you like us to add that locale and become its localizer? Register with Open Internet Lexicon today. Apply to join us and help us internationalize the web.
Localizers should be fluent in English. Usage comments for a particular phrase are written in English. They must also know the idiomatic language of the locale, of course. The final qualification is that they must be familiar with current Internet and Web terminology in that locale. Preferably they reside in the locale, and have a good Internet connection there.

The Open Internet Lexicon runs on a database-backed web site using timeLines technology. skyBuilders webWare has an interface in which every text element - button labels, column headings, row names, hyperlink text, captions, etc. - is stored in the database in languages for multiple locales. The multilingual text tables are part of the industry-standard Open DataBase Model (ODBM). For further information, go to

Commentaries, criticisms, and suggestions are welcome for new words and phrases which may be needed by web developers who want their software to operate in many countries. Web developers and software developers are free to use the resulting text in their work. They may download the Open Internet Lexicon terminology database in a spreadsheet or text file format. Various database formats are also available, as well as a set of SQL commands that create and populate the database tables.

Open Internet Lexicon is no substitute for good dictionaries, machine translation programs, and human translators. It is simply a database repository for the short phrases that are needed on a web page to label buttons and indicate actions. The shorter the phrase the better. Particular words are likely to be highly idiomatic, even with the intense pressure to standardize web terminology around the world.
Although many icons are by their nature independent of language, our Icon Lexicon will collect those that need to be different in some locales. Do you have examples of good or bad icons for some locale? Register with Open Internet Lexicon today. Apply to join us and help us internationalize the web.

There are 139 two-letter language codes in ISO 639 and 239 country codes in ISO 3166. An expanded list of three-letter language codes is available at GlossPost. So there can be a very large number of locales. Probably 50 of them account for 98% of web activity today. Will web globalization technology be able to handle them all?

Tower of Babel The World Wide Web has broken down the barriers of space and time.
The only remaining barrier is language.

There are two directions we can go to break down the language barrier. One is to realize the panglossian dream of an ideal universal language understandable by all. The other is to translate everything of importance - at least the gist in time and maybe someday le mot juste in time - into every language that has interested readers.

To help us break the language barrier, you need a lot of knowledge.
Try reading some of the great books on localization, internationalization, and multilingual software.
animated books

Open Internet Lexicon is just a simple and immediately useful web dictionary. All the words and concise phrases are Internet terminology suitable for web pages. Open Internet Lexicon is being developed and supported over the web, by web developers, and for web developers. This makes it possible for native speakers familiar with the evolving web in their cultures to keep the dictionary fresh and relevant in Internet time. Our database-backed system can easily handle hundreds of locales. Finally, it's open and free for all to use.

To join us as a localizer and get your locale added to our efforts, you must register with Open Internet Lexicon. Then fill out an application indicating your skills and interest. If you are approved, you will be given editing privileges in the terminology database for your locale. You will also have a web page on our site which you can edit to describe your work. And you will have a listing in our searchable database of OIL localizers.

If you want to join a team of localizers for a popular locale, you will be considered by the existing localizers. In any case, as an Open Internet Lexicon team member you will have privileges to comment and criticize the work in any locale.

Sponsored by

Would your company like to sponsor a locale? Sponsor links will appear on the locale pages and can direct visitors to you for custom localization. Inquire about sponsoring a locale and help us break the language barrier and internationalize the web.
Criticisms? Suggestions?   Do you want us to add a reference or hyperlink to this page? Send us an email or add a comment directly to this page below. Back to top of OIL site.

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