Key Concepts and Terms
Localization is the linguistic and cultural adaptation of digital content to the requirements and the locale of a foreign market; it includes the provision of services and technologies for the management of multilingualism across the digital global information flow. Thus, localization activities include translation and a wide range of additional activities. True localization considers language, culture, customs and the characteristics of the target locale. It frequently involves changes to the software’s writing system and may change keyboard use and fonts as well as date, time and monetary formats. In l10n, the common abbreviation for localization, the 10 refers to the ten letters between the l and the n.
Designing software code and resources such that resources can be localized with no changes in the source code.
The process of developing a program core whose features and code design are not solely based on a single language or locale. Instead, their design is developed for the input, display, and output of a defined set of Unicode-supported language scripts and data related to specific locales. 
Designing software for the input, display, and output of a defined set of Unicode supported language scripts and data relating to specific locales and cultures.
The state of a product when it is properly globalized and is easy to customize and localize.
- Global Readiness
Designing software that is componentized and extensible to allow for replacement, addition and/or subtraction of features necessary for a given market.
A language and geographic region that also includes common language and cultural information. Thus French-France (fr-fr), French-Canada (fr-ca), French-Belgium (fr-be) are different locales. Locale also refers to the features of a user’s computing environment that are dependent on geographic location, language and cultural information. A locale specifically determines conventions such as sort order rules; date, time and currency formats; keyboard layout; and other cultural conventions.
Getting a product ready for international markets
Internationalization often abbreviated as I18n, is the process of designing and developing a software application in a way that it can be adapted to different languages and regions without changing the source code. It is also called translation or localization enablement. During the Internationalization process there are many differences to be taken into account that go way beyond the mere translation of words and phrases. For example different national conventions and standard locale data.
A collection of such differences is provided by the Unicode Common Locale Data Repository.
The internationalization process is to enable easy localization for the target locale.
Internationalization typically entails:
- Designing and developing in a way that removes barriers to localization or international deployment. This includes such things as enabling the use of Unicode, or ensuring the proper handling of legacy character encodings where appropriate, taking care over the concatenation of strings, avoiding dependance in code of user-interface string values, etc.
- Providing support for features that may not be used until localization occurs. For example, adding markup in your DTD to support bidirectional text, or for identifying language. Or adding to CSS support for vertical text or other non-Latin typographic features.
- Enabling code to support local, regional, language, or culturally related preferences. Typically this involves incorporating predefined localization data and features derived from existing libraries or user preferences. Examples include date and time formats, local calendars, number formats and numeral systems, sorting and presentation of lists, handling of personal names and forms of address, etc.
- Separating localizable elements from source code or content, such that localized alternatives can be loaded or selected based on the user's international preferences as needed.
- Avoiding offending users
- Use of icons and images
The treatment of maps in localization can present problems for countries or regions with disputed borders or territories. Current examples of disputed areas include Kashmir (India and Pakistan), the West Bank (Israel and Palestine), Taiwan (the People's Republic of China and the Republic of China (Taiwan)), and Crimea (Russia and Ukraine). For localization, decisions have to be made about how to portray the disputed territories. This problem is especially relevant when localizing map applications and GIS software. One solution is to mark such territories as "disputed" on maps. But this is not always possible if local regulations stipulate how the maps should be displayed. In some cases there can also be conflicting geographic names, e.g. when the countries or entities that lay claim to disputed regions have different official languages and/or writing systems.
Issues with maps can also arise in marketing, advertising, and other creative domains. For example, in January 2016 a Coca Cola campaign on the Russian social media site vKontakte posted an Orthodox Christmas greeting using a map of Russia without Crimea. Groups of Russians criticized the omission of Crimea in the advertisement, and Coca Cola responded by publishing a new advertisement with a map of Russia that included Crimea. But Coca Cola's second attempt drew criticism from groups of Ukrainians, who protested the company's decision indicated Crimea as part of Russia and not Ukraine.
India claims the entire erstwhile princely state of Jammu and Kashmir based on an instrument of accession signed in 1947. Pakistan claims Jammu and Kashmir based on its majority Muslim population, whereas China claims the Shaksam Valley and Aksai Chin.
Design for Language Switching
- Language fallback
Language Switching in Software
Language Switching on Websites
French language laws (Canada, France)
The Charter of the French Language, also known as Bill 101, is a 1977 law in the province of Quebec in Canada that defines French as the only official language of Quebec and frames fundamental language rights of all Quebecois. The provincial government body responsible for enforcing the Charter is the Office québécois de la langue française (OQLF). The law stipulates that product labels, their instructions, manuals and warranty certificates as well as public signs, posters and commercial advertising must be in French. If a sign is bilingual or if separate signs are used for different languages, the French text must be predominant (e.g. the French text is twice as big as the other language and/or there are twice as many signs in French). The Charter also regulates the use of the French language in business and commerce. For example, software used by employees must be available in French, unless no French version exists. Similarly, on September 10, 2007, the OQLF and the Entertainment Software Association of Canada announced a new agreement regarding the distribution of video games in the province of Quebec:
- Since Sept. 10, 2007, the packaging and instructions of any new video game sold in Quebec must be in French.
- Since Oct. 1st, 2007, any new computer software must be available in French if a French version exists elsewhere in the world.
- Since April 1st, 2009, any new generation console video game (Microsoft Xbox 360, Nintendo Wii, Nintendo DS, Sony PlayStation 3, Sony PSP and any newer model) must be available in French if a French version exists elsewhere in the world.
- If the French and English versions are available separately, any retailer wanting to sell or rent the English version must also offer the French version.
- If no French version exists, the English version may be sold only if the packaging and instructions are in French.
The Toubon law of 1994 is a French law mandating the use of the French language in several areas, among them official government publications, advertisements, commercial contracts, government-financed schools or the work place. Since it stipulates that "any document that contains obligations for the employee or provisions whose knowledge is necessary for the performance of one's work must be written in French", software developed outside of France must have its user interface and instruction manuals translated into French.
Turkish consumer protection law
Consumer Protection Law No. 6502 regulates sales to consumers over the internet and other digital platforms and defines the rules of advertisement to protect consumers. The Regulation for Distance Contracts also aims to protect consumer rights in e-commerce transactions.
Terms and Concepts
- Localization ROI
- Economic significance of a language
- Politically-driven localization
- Localization based on humanitarian grounds
Localization of a product or services driven by the wish to improve the quality of life of people in a less developed economy rather than to pursue economic benefit. Even simple access to translated information has a positive impact on health and could prevent deaths.
Localization by type
We usually distinguish between software (SW) and user assistance (UA) localization. These two deliverable types are further defined below. As the creation process and the workflows of both deliverables are becoming more and more connected, we see the boundaries between UA and SW become blurred in many areas. Many localization areas, processes and tools can meanwhile be applied for both UA and SW.
Localization operations: Models
For the In-House model, the localization process is handled within the company by employees (as opposed to an LSP or individual contractors) from start to finish. Advantages include speed of information transfer (no bottlenecks) and better communication between the content writers, developers and translators. Disadvantages include a possible increase in overhead and lack of scalability. 
This model supports localization through a combination of in-house resources and third party outsourcing. In this model you can make use of internal resources to perform pre-localization tasks (e.g., term mining/translation to build/update a term database for the third party translator) and to serve as subject matter experts (SMEs) for both the subject matter. While a 100% in-house model has overhead and scalability constraints, this combination model can allow you to scale to support increased scope while retaining a smaller pool of in-house resources for specialized tasks (terminology, style guides, linguistic QA) and to address high priority/short time-line projects.
In brief, crowdsourcing is when an individual, group, or company publishes the user interface strings of their website or product so that anyone with Internet access can help translate/localize the material. Since 2006, crowdsourcing translation and localization has become extremely popular. Some of the most popular websites and products available today were translated through crowdsourcing, including Facebook, Twitter, LinkedIn, Minecraft, Khan Academy, and TED. The participants range anywhere from five to 450 thousand.
Crowdsourcing is efficient for several reasons:
- Little to no linguistic limitations — With crowdsourcing, the amount of languages for which a product can be translated/localized is only limited by the demographic of the users. This is especially beneficial for a product that is already popular world-wide.
- Near-immediate results — Because of the vast amount of people who typically participate in crowdsource translation/localization, results often come back almost instantaneously, depending on the size of the source text and amount of translation proofreading that is required.
- Financially efficient — One of the more obvious and perhaps greatest benefits of using crowdsourcing is that the low-cost, low-maintenance nature of building (or implementing) a crowdsourcing platform makes it the cheapest option for a company to translated hundreds or thousands of strings.
Despite all the advantages, there are some challenges that should be considered:
- Technological limitations — People who are not internet or technology-savvy, and even those who don't have convenient access to the internet contribute very little to crowdsourcing. Because of this, some important languages or dialects can be left out from the results. Companies also need to consider the differences that time-zones can play in the release translated materials.
- Variable Quality — If efforts in coordinating the quality control of submitted translations aren't taken very seriously, then the hobbyist translators who most often participate in crowdsourcing may end up harming the product's quality with their unprofessionalism.
- Motivation — Because crowdsourcing is done by volunteers for free, keeping the translators/localizers motivated is extremely important. Many companies inspire their volunteers through by gamifying the process and even offering rewards to top, or even all contributors.
- Control — Managing a group of hundreds or even thousands can be very difficult. The organization of the crowdsourcing platform and its users needs to be carefully considered and executed.
Localization projects: General workflows
Pre-translation engineering work
Pre-translation QA work
Pseudolocalization (or pseudo-localization) is a software testing method used for testing internationalization aspects of software. Instead of translating the text of the software into a foreign language, as in the process of localization, the textual elements of an application are replaced with an altered version of the original language. For more see Wikipedia article on Pseudolocalization
Pre-translation language work
Every language has specific linguistic and grammatical rules.
Translation Management Systems
Translation Management Systems (TMS) aka Globalization Management Systems (GMS)
Globalization Management Systems
Content Management Systems
- Handoff systems
- Cloud translation systems
UI adjustments (Software)
- Resizing work, re-layout
UA adjustments (Content)
- Types, specifics
Linguists may work independently as freelancers or be employed by a language service provider (LSP) or client company. They include interpreters, translators, editors and proofreaders. Translators translate texts from source language to target language in a timely manner. They must know how to work with various tools and technologies that support the translation process, such as translation memory, translation workflow and other computer-aided translation (CAT) tools. Interpreters translate spoken language. Interpreting can be simultaneous or consecutive. Editors and proofreaders check translations for mistakes and consistency of terminology, and generally refine the translation ensuring that the text no longer reads as a translation, but as if it was originally written in the target language.
Linguists must possess an aptitude for language and global cultures in their specialization. Sensitivity to nuance and contextual meaning is important. Strong communication skills, attention to detail and precision are a must in translation work.
- Localization quality assurance (QA) professionals
Localization QA professionals can be employed by an LSP or client company. They must have an exceptional attention to detail, systematic approach to working in a unified fashion and strong technical expertise.
- Internationalization engineers
Internationalization engineer is responsible for having all technology products developed in a way that facilitates and considers localization and translation processes and requirements. These individuals work closely with developers on a code level to make sure that everything that affects the success of localization (date and time formats, Unicode compliance, font compatibility, design for text expansion etc.) be addressed in advance at the beginning of development. Skills that successful internationalization engineers must possess include a solid understanding of software and technology product development, coding and various technical development languages, and the ability to identify fags for internationalization issues. They need to have a strong comfort level working with technical engineers in software, technology development and localization engineering. Clear communication and the ability to teach and inform peer groups and management of this area of expertise is important.
- Localization engineers
A localization engineer works directly with any product, document, website or device that requires translation. At an LSP, localization engineers will be responsible for many things. They assess files for quoting localization and translation work. They dictate how files for localization be received by the client company. They take in files, process them, work with translation and localization tools, and help execute all necessary preparation of the files for translation. When files are translated, localization engineers recompile the files in any development format or system for reintegration into the final localized product. They work with localization QA to verify and fix errors. And they collaborate with client development and localization teams as necessary. Sometimes a localization engineer may be responsible for internationalization.
At a client company, localization engineers work as an integrated member of a development team to ensure that localization happens seamlessly. They alert the development teams of necessary localization requirements, receive files and special instructions on development and get to know the product that is being developed inside and out. They may work with an LSP company and their engineering team to answer questions and facilitate the technical aspect of the overall process.
Localization engineers must have an exceptionally high knowledge of development technologies that they are working with and how they fit in the localization process. They must be able to integrate various localization and translation tools such as translation memory (TM), translation workflow tools and other CAT tools.
- Solutions architects
This is a higher level technology professional who works with development teams, clients and sales people in an LSP to craft complex solutions for localization. Solutions architects must have technical competence and strong communication skills, be able to give presentations to decision makers and be a go-to person to solve challenging technical puzzles. To be able to assess and recommend the best path forward to a client, solutions architects must possess a solid understanding of software and technology product development, no matter the client and what they are building, and a firm understanding of the localization process at that particular LSP.
- Localization strategists
This is a higher level technology professional who works in a client company and defines a localization strategy for a product. A strategist is tasked with looking for the newest language technologies, finding ways to optimize the translation or localization process, and creating vendor and pricing strategies that create efficient and effective vendor and LSP relationships with the company. They are generally tasked with making everything in the translation or localization process go faster, cheaper and better, year over year.
- Technical managers
A technical manager handles a technical team consisting of localization engineers, internationalization engineers, localization QA professionals and solutions architects. This person ensures that all requirements for localization are met by assigning teams, resources, budget and expertise to any given project at any given time.
At a client company, technical managers may be responsible for several development departments, with localization as part of it. They work to support that everything related to localization success is in place and available for the teams to achieve their goals.
Technical managers at an LSP will run the entire technical department of localization engineers, internationalization engineers, localization QA professionals and solutions architects to perform all technical functions to support client assignments. They focus on budget, resourcing and time allocations to ensure the success of their teams. Important skill sets of the technical manger include solid people management expertise coupled with technical expertise. A technical manager only has credibility from a technical team if he or she has actually been an engineer in the past and has a strong knowledge of the complexities of technology.
An executive is anyone who holds a high level management position at an LSP, or who holds any C-level position (CEO, COO or other) and has overarching responsibility for management of a language company. In the language industry, an executive must be comfortable working across cultures and in a global context. He or she must have expertise in professional business and technical services. Executives must know just enough about the language industry to be credible, but possess all executive leadership skills to pay attention to the bottom line and financial profitability. They must know how to optimize investment in technology, innovation, resources and people to do everything that their business requires. Strong skills in presenting, motivating and representing an organization publicly are essential.
- Operations managers
An operations manager may also be referred to as department manager, production manager or group manager. The operations manager is responsible for a team of specialists and professionals to get work completed on time, on budget and with excellent quality. An operations manager requires general people management and development skills, must know how to recruit and retain talent, take ownership of budgets and other administrative responsibilities and keep work flowing throughout an organization. These people assign resources, approve timelines and work with executive teams to ensure that all work gets done as promised to partners or clients.
- Project managers
Project managers are in charge of the execution of all the different projects that require translation or localization. They understand what needs to be translated or localized, organize the appropriate vendor and internal resources, and also create a schedule, timeline and associated budget. They work along the way to be sure everything is delivered on time and on budget. They track and resolve issues, work with developers and various departments to be sure that everything they are responsible for works out as planned. They usually report to an operations manager. A project manager needs to have excellent communication skills and the ability to work with people ranging from those in management to linguists to engineers to clients and others. Organizational skill, managing complexity and being able to keep track of several moving parts at once are essential. Financial budgeting skills are required, as well as the ability to negotiate and persuade people to do what is needed.
- Sales executives
A sales executive, on the other hand, is responsible for finding clients for a company and bringing in revenue. Sales executive positions require excellent communication skills, possess the ability to identify new business opportunities, make contact with decision makers, demonstrate the abilities of the company or service organization they represent and land business. A big part of a sales position is being consistently proactive to continually generate new business and form relationships. Resiliency, focus and natural motivation are required here. A sales executive in the language industry would do best enhancing his or her skills in selling technical professional services. There is a strong focus on “relationship” selling, which means that sales executives must learn how to get to know their clients, what their client challenges and needs are, and what the solutions are.
- Procurement managers
A procurement manager is a client side position, and is responsible for services agreements between the company and its language service providers. A procurement manager only exists at large companies. A procurement manager must have excellent negotiation skills, be able to craft detailed pricing strategies and form legal agreements with legal professionals. They will likely deal with the request for proposal and request for quotation process, billing, pricing and terms negotiation.
- Vendor managers
A vendor manager is the person at an LSP who forms relationships with third party partners, like linguists and contractor organizations. A vendor manager is responsible for sourcing and recruiting various professionals and specialists, testing and qualifying these vendor resources, and maintaining up-to-date contact records with these vendor individuals or companies in order to call on them when their skills are required. A vendor manager is akin to a human resources recruiter, but with a specialization.
History of Localization
In the early 1980s most software vendors started in-house translation departments or outsourced translation work to freelance translators or in-country product distributors. The increasing size and complexity of localization projects soon forced companies to an outsourcing model. In the mid 1980s, the first multi-language vendors (MLVs) were formed. New companies such as INK (now Lionbridge) or IDOC (now Browne) specialized in the management and translation of technical documentation and software. Existing companies with other core competencies, such as Berlitz, started translation divisions that could handle multilingual translation and localization projects. 
Development of Unicode in 1987 affected the localization industry to a large extent. Another important change was the introduction of a "single world-wide binary", i.e. development of one version of a program that supports all languages. This single binary was often combined with "resource-only DLL files", where all user interface text elements, such as dialog box options, menus and error messages, were centralized. All program code was separated from the resources which meant that applications could be run in another language by replacing the resource-only DLL with a localized version.
- Schäler, Reinhard. "Localization and translation" Handbook of Translation Studies: Volume 1, Edited by Yves Gambier and Luc van Doorslaer, 2010, pp. 209–214.
- "2017 Resource Directory" MultiLingual, January 2017, p. 77.
- Microsoft Globalization Development Center
- DePalma, Donald A."Making a business case for localization when there’s little or no business to be had" "MultiLingual"], January 2017, p.32
- Spacinsky, Denise. "Careers in Localization", MultiLingual, December, 2013.