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Lesson 1

National Language Support

Oracle continues to support a wide range of languages using the NLS_LANG parameter. Let's break down how this works:
NLS_LANG Purpose in Oracle:
  • The NLS_LANG parameter is a crucial setting in Oracle databases that determines:
    • Character Set: The encoding used to represent characters for your data (e.g., UTF-8, WE8ISO8859P15, etc.)
    • Language: Used for language-specific elements like date formats, day/month names, sorting order, etc.
    • Territory: Governs region-specific conventions such as currency symbols, number separators, etc.

Supporting Various Languages:
  • Vast Character Sets: Oracle supports numerous character sets to ensure it can store and process data in a multitude of languages.
  • Locale-Specific Settings: The language and territory components of NLS_LANG control the display and linguistic behaviors tailored to different locales.
Finding Supported Languages
Setting NLS_LANG for Japanese:

Important Considerations:
  • Client-Side: Ensure your database client also has proper NLS_LANG settings or environment variables set to match the database for correct display and input.
  • Database Creation: Ideally, setting character set and national character set during database creation offers the most comprehensive support for a chosen language.

Oracle's Mechanism for supporting national Languages

For much of the computing world, the standard language is English. However, many other languages are used throughout the world, and Oracle provides a mechanism to support many of them. This module will cover ways in which Oracle implements this support.
This module discusses
  1. How Oracle supports other languages
  2. How to use the NLS_LANG parameter
  3. How to use character sets
  4. How to specify national character sets
  5. How to convert between national language sets
With these skills in hand, you will be able to support virtually the entire world and its population, regardless of the languages your users can read.

National Language Support

Oracle does not have to use English characters; it can represent data in any language through its implementation of National Language Support and its NCHAR and NVARCHAR2 datatypes. By using characters made up of longer pieces of information than ordinary characters, Oracle can represent Japanese and other such strings. In addition to the SUBSTR function, Oracle supports SUBSTRB (using bytes instead of characters), SUBSTRC (using Unicode complete characters), SUBSTR2 (using UCS2 codepoints), and SUBSTR4 (using UCS4 codepoints).



NLS_LANGUAGE specifies the default language of the database. This language is used for messages, day and month names, symbols for AD, BC, a.m., and p.m., and the default sorting mechanism.
This parameter also determines the default values of the parameters NLS_DATE_LANGUAGE and NLS_SORT.
In the next lesson, we will discuss how Oracle implements national language support.

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