January 1, 2001, Cambridge,Mass.

The Open Internet Lexicon (www.openinternetlexicon.com) is an initiative to build a simple multilingual dictionary of web site terminology (words and short phrases, like "Log on" and "Download"). Our goal is to provide handy information on rapidly evolving Internet and Web usage in dozens of locales and thus encourage and enable site developers to make their web pages multilingual.

The Open Internet Lexicon (OIL) dictionary will be free and open for all to use in designing multi-lingual or single-language web sites. Part or all of the Lexicon can be downloaded in a text file, as a spreadsheet, or in relational database table format (and soon as an XML data structure). Localizers from around the world are invited to help us identify the best language practices for their locales.

With OIL words and phrases, web site developers can quickly modify the basic navigation elements of a web page to work in several locales. Of course they will still need the expert assistance of human translators to localize the main body text of a web site.

An OIL database of localizers will help web site developers to find capable translators. Contributing localizers will have their own editable web pages on openinternetlexicon.com to describe their work to potential clients.

On most multilingual sites, a user must choose a language on the home page. Openinternetlexicon.com does this, but also responds directly to a browser language request. Currently supported are English, French, Italian, German, Spanish, and Portuguese. We hope the OIL site will be a demonstration for multilingual web site performance in the future.

Openinternetlexicon.com is a database-backed web site. Its database interface can automatically generate a new locale based on a combination of one of the 139 ISO-639 language codes and one of the 239 ISO-3166 country codes. When a new locale is added, a complete set of new words and phrases is generated, based on any one of the existing language sets. This new set will then be directly editable over the web by the localizer.

For more information, contact Bob Doyle (oil@openinternetlexicon.com). If you want to become an OIL localizer, go to the web site and join us.

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