locale - Description of multi-language support




A locale is a set of language and cultural rules. These cover aspects such as language for messages, different character sets, lexigraphic conventions, etc. A program needs to be able to determine its locale and act accordingly to be portable to different cultures.

The header declares data types, functions and macros which are useful in this task.

The functions it declares are setlocale() to set the current locale, and localeconv() to get information about number formatting.

There are different categories for local information a program might need; they are declared as macros. Using them as the first argument to the setlocale() function, it is possible to set one of these to the desired locale:


This is used to change the behaviour of the functions strcoll() and strxfrm(), which are used to compare strings in the local alphabet. For example, the German sharp s is sorted as __


This changes the behaviour of the character handling and classification functions, such as isupper() and toupper(), and the multi-byte character functions such as mblen() or wctomb().


changes the information returned by localeconv() which describes the way numbers are usually printed, with details such as decimal point versus decimal comma. This information is internally used by the function strfmon().


changes the language messages are displayed in and how an affirmative or negative answer looks like. The GNU C-library contains the rpmatch() function to ease the use of these information.


changes the information used by the printf() and scanf() family of functions, when they are advised to use the locale-settings. This information can also be read with the localeconv() function.


changes the behaviour of the strftime() function to display the current time in a locally acceptable form; for example, most of Europe uses a 24-hour clock vs. the US' 12-hour clock.


All of the above.

If the second argument to setlocale() is empty string, , for the default locale, it is determined using the following steps:


If there is a non-null environment variable LC_ALL, the value of LC_ALL is used.


If an environment variable with the same name as one of the categories above exists and is non-null, its value is used for that category.


If there is a non-null environment variable LANG, the value of LANG is used.

Values about local numeric formatting is made available in a struct lconv returned by the localeconv() function, which has the following declaration:

struct lconv { /* Numeric (non-monetary) information. / char decimal_point; / Decimal point character. / char thousands_sep; / Thousands separator. / / Each element is the number of digits in each group; elements with higher indices are farther left. An element with value CHAR_MAX means that no further grouping is done. An element with value 0 means that the previous element is used for all groups farther left. / char grouping; / Monetary information. / / First three chars are a currency symbol from ISO 4217. Fourth char is the separator. Fifth char is ' '. / char int_curr_symbol; char currency_symbol; / Local currency symbol. / char mon_decimal_point; / Decimal point character. / char mon_thousands_sep; / Thousands separator. / char mon_grouping; / Like `grouping' element (above). / char *positive_sign; / Sign for positive values. */ char *negative_sign; / Sign for negative values. */ char int_frac_digits; / Int'l fractional digits. */ char frac_digits; / Local fractional digits. */ / 1 if currency_symbol precedes a positive value, 0 if succeeds. */ char p_cs_precedes; / 1 if a space separates currency_symbol from a positive value. */ char p_sep_by_space; / 1 if currency_symbol precedes a negative value, 0 if succeeds. */ char n_cs_precedes; / 1 if a space separates currency_symbol from a negative value. */ char n_sep_by_space; / Positive and negative sign positions: 0 Parentheses surround the quantity and currency_symbol. 1 The sign string precedes the quantity and currency_symbol. 2 The sign string succeeds the quantity and currency_symbol. 3 The sign string immediately precedes the currency_symbol. 4 The sign string immediately succeeds the currency_symbol. */ char p_sign_posn; char n_sign_posn; };




setlocale(3), localeconv(3), locale(1), localedef(1), rpmatch(3)?, strfmon(3), strcoll(3), strxfrm(3), strftime(3)

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