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with Anu Garg


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A question I often hear (or read) is: "What is the longest word in the English Language?" My answer: "Depends."

No, "depends" isn't the longest word in the English language. Rather, the answer depends on a lot of things. First, what's a word? For example, do names of chemicals -- thousands of letters long -- count?

A better question might be: "What's the longest word in any English language dictionary?" We'll see the answer to that at the end of this week. Meanwhile, here are a few other shorter words, relatively speaking.

Even though most of the time the only purpose they serve is to be cited as examples of long words, they have genuine usage. For example, today's word is widely used in software and business.

Most of the longest words in English are names of chemical compounds, names of diseases or technical words, and not very interesting to remember or talk about. This week, we'll feature five long words that are fun to write and recite.

internationalization (in-tuhr-NASH-uh-nuh-ly-ZAY-shun) noun

1. The act or process of making something international or placing it under international control.
2. Making a product or process suitable for use around the globe.

This 20-letter word is often abbreviated as i18n when used by software engineers. Making a program useful in another country requires more than just replacing error messages from a new language. In software development, internationalization means designing a program so that it can be easily customized for various languages, scripts, units, currencies, and date/time formats. The counterpart of i18n is localization (l10n) which is adapting a program for use in a particular locale. In other words, internationalization makes a piece of software easy to localize.

"Japan is no exception in seeing a rise in nationalism in reaction to growing pressures from internationalization."
Yoshibumi Wakamiya; Seeking New Strategies; The Asahi Shimbun (Tokyo, Japan); Apr 27, 2006.

See more usage examples of internationalization in Vocabulary.com's dictionary.


We shall succeed only so far as we continue that most distasteful of all activity, the intolerable labor of thought. -Learned Hand, jurist (1872-1961)

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