Speaking in Code: G11n, L10n, A11y, Oh My

If you're not actively using social media to stay current, "g11n," "l10n," and "a11y" may seem like inscrutable code.  In fact they're all simply numeronyms for globalization, localization, and accessibility.  All three are much faster to type (once you get familiar with them), and easier to spot if they're of particular interest to you.

Tag Cloud with numeronymsWith microtweeting and texting so common, being able to quickly and concisely share information is vital.  And frankly it's a lot easier to find information on a topic with a numeronymic tag of four simple characters. 

Most of us are familiar with Y2K, although that wasn't the first numeronym around; the numeronym K9 has been around since at least WWII. And while there could be an intriguing discussion on Xmas as an early numeronym, that's a topic for another time (and place).

These are more than simply tacking some numbers at the end of an abbreviation, they become a whole new term.  Numeronyms have evolved; they're more than substitution; tr8n is for translation, not train.  In an earlier post I mentioned how the freedom of being able to create your own hashtags on Twitter is also a curse; numeronyms gain traction because of their inherent elegance.  It's not like "ICC" which could stand for several different things that don't relate at all. 

Search on a11y and you're going to a lot more results related to accessibility than you will for girls with the name Allison on their birth certificate trying to be creative with their online branding. And we've been doing it long before little Ally was texting IU2U to her BFF. JSYK (J4F). You're much more likely to find content by someone like Char James-Tanny; I heard her speak at Lavacon Austin a few years ago, and she really opened my eyes to accessibility/a11y.

If you're in either technical communications or learning development, they should be of great interest to you. I'd add in n11n (normalization) and d11n (documentation).  They're all related, complex concepts that can reduce misunderstanding and finding the topics online can be a real time sink without the nifty numeronyms.


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