In English software, it's conventional to render WGS 84 co-ordinates in a manner similar to the following:

38.8951° N, 77.0364° W

or, encoding the directionality into the numeric values:

38.8951°, -77.0364°

If I'm using the former, should I localise "N", "S", "E" & "W"? Or does WGS 84 (or any other widely adopted standard) allow for the universal use of these English abbreviations? What is the convention here?

Wikipedia's localised articles do alter these suffixes (e.g. "90°G a 90°D" on the Welsh-language "Geographic coordinate system" article), but I can't tell whether that's an isolated example or a manifestation of common global practice.

The same question of course applies for other representations such as 38° 53' 42.36" N.

  • No, ignoring the main language is not a standard. If you do translate an app in another language, do it fully. Will people understand? Probably. It is respecting the reader? not al all. (PS: then will come the issue of translating the legend, the scale, the copyright statement, the map metadata such as the projection name. And then the buttons name/tooltip etc) – JGH Jan 23 at 19:48
  • @JGH: Is "inches" usually localised? "Pixels"? Consider all the SI terms that are globally standardised. I guess I'm asking whether this is one of those times. I'm fine with it either way, but I want to match convention. It's not mission critical or anything, just a commercial app for the home, but I don't want to alienate people using non-English languages by failing to localise something that's usually localised. On the other hand, I don't want to make the UI weird by spuriously localising something that's usually standardised. References welcome. Thanks :) – Lightness Races in Orbit Jan 23 at 22:44
  • Why wouldn't a word be translated? (for ex, "inch" is "pouce" in French... quite different). You can look at this official map stating "kilomètres" in the scale, or this one (swap between French and English), or this official bilingual map. – JGH Jan 24 at 13:08
  • While it is possible to use abbreviation that exists in several languages (like "km" or "N"), - and possible to ignore other ones (like having only the North arrow, not E/W/S), one can imagine the map printed in a language using a different alphabet: it will look odd to have a few words only with the Latin alphabet – JGH Jan 24 at 13:12

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