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ICU Support

ICU stands for international components for Unicode. It is a set of libraries that support the globalization of software applications. The most important features of the ICU message format are plurals, select, date, time, and number. ICU code is common in product strings and support documentation.



Plurals are a mechanism of language that allows a speaker or writer to differentiate types of nouns or phrases. In English we have two plural forms singular and plural. These forms are represented in different ways:

  • Standard: appending an “-s”, “-es” or changing “-y” to “-ies” for a singular noun.

    • Example: cat - cats, baby - babies

  • Irregular plural: some nouns do not follow specific rules

    • Example: mouse - mice

  • No change: some nouns have no change between forms

    • Example: deer - deer,

  • Latin and Greek: some forms derive from Latin or Greek origin

    • Example: cactus - cacti

English forms are just the beginning, in Arabic there are six forms and completely different rules. The localization industry has created multiple syntax’s including ICU and i18n to support this eccentricity of language.

LILT’s Plural support

At LILT we provide automated support for the ICU plurals syntax. Users can upload files with the ICU syntax, easily translate, and export with correct formatting.


  1. Create a new job

  2. Toggle the “Enable ICU Plural support for the job” flag to on

  3. Import a file which has the ICU syntax

  4. Select target languages

  5. Create job

Translate and Review

Linguists can navigate the CAT tool and modify all of the forms for both the source and target languages. The number of forms for both source and target are automatically determined by the CLDR rules for that language; however, a linguist can easily delete an existing form or “Add another” depending on the sentence and context.

Pretranslate and Data Sources

After a segment containing plurals has been translated it will appear in the Data Source entries. Future source text with the exact number of forms and segment text will match 100%, and the Data Source will be leveraged. If pretranslation is used, the target will be populated with Data Source entries if the match score is greater than 75%, otherwise MT will be created for each form of the target language.


Once the file has gone through the appropriate workflow, it can be exported using the standard workflow. The exported file will have both the source and target forms in the ICU format.

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