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National Language Architecture

©SHARE Europe (SEAS) White Paper, originally published fall 1990.

Comments demonstrating the relevance of this work even decades later

August 2002: Robert Hopkins, founder of Weblations in www.newarchitect.com, june 2002 issue:
The biggest obstacle to internationalization is the sheer distance, in every sense of the word, between the content owner and the content user. The people who benefit from I18N mostly are not Americans, while those who pay for it mostly are. Most of the biggest knowledge bases are available in English only.
Why? I guess it's because the Americans with the big budgets don't understand in their bones how absolutely imperative it is to translate that material to get a return on it outside of the U.S.A.

December 2022: Jens Lynge, a Danish former activist in Share Europe writes: I am preparing to influence a new generation of loud speakers, who are making noise over the still visible NLA problems in public solutions.


[Logo of the NLA group: an upper case A with lots of accents above and below creating the impression of a human figure. This logo was developed by Alain LaBonté. The copyright is with him.]

Activities of most companies become multi-national, especially with the opening of the European market. Hence the users of Information Systems will no longer use only one language or live within a distinct cultural environment. Competitiveness calls for IS-applications which can be used by much more people than current applications.

The SEAS White Paper on National Character, Language and Keyboard Problems (issued in 1985) described the problems with IBM's software and hardware. SAA lacked any provisions to solve the addressed problems when it was announced. So SHARE Europe again had to tackle these issues on behalf of its membership.

The architecture describes functions required for codes and code points, character sets, sorting and searching, date and time representation, numeric grouping symbols and message handling that language and cultural differences are correctly handled. Implementing those functions will make it possible to develop an application that executes correctly regardless of language and cultural difference.

Klaus Daube, OBRZ, Zürich, Switzerland

For a historical review of the work done on this subject see

Notes from the editor (1998)

At the time of writing this White Paper 'gender neutral writing' was not an issue and the term 'political correctness' was not known at all. In this paper the masculine form was used although feminine people always were implied in the meaning (and women took part in the discussions very often). Fortunately the English language does not bear a gender in the article 'the'...

The logo displayed above was drafted on a napkin by Alain LaBonté at one of the meetings... The copyright on this design is with him. All (former) members of the NLA working group are entitled to use it to promote NLA and NLS work.

[To top/bottom of page] Table of Contents

Management Summary Acknowledgement Glossary
Introduction Background Annotated Bibliography


Functions needed for Support of National Language

Culture Sensitive Functions

Messages and Documentation

Encoding of Character Data

Presentation Services

Operating System Requirements

Implementation Considerations

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