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.
Localizability is an intermediate process for verifying that a globalized application is ready for localization.. Localizability testing verifies that the user interface of the program being tested can be easily adapted into any local market (locale) without modifying source code. This important process helps ensure the functionality of the application by discovering and fixing errors in source code.
- Avoiding offending users
- Use of icons and images
- Historical background of a locale
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.
Having a good understanding of what is and is not acceptable is crucial especially for countries where religion is present in law.
Countries like Saudi Arabia, the UAE and Pakistan operate mostly or entirely under Sharia law (the moral code and religious law for the Islamic faith). The usage of scantily-clad women in bikinis, beer drinking and gambling in marketing materials is forbidden in countries under Sharia law and food must not be advertised during Ramadan (a time of fasting). Localization strategy in these countries have to take their religious law into considerations.
Another example of localization without religious consideration is the case with a Microsoft Xbox game. In 2003, Kakuto Chojin: Back Alley Brutal, developed by Dream Publishing and published by Microsoft Game Studios in 2002, was pulled of shelves just a few months after it was released after receiving an extremely vocal and negative reaction due to religious content deemed offensive. The Xbox Game featured a level with a background sound effect featuring a passage from the Quran being repeated over and over. Since the majority of Muslims believe the Qur’an should be handled with the utmost respect as it is the literal word of God, there was considerable outrage among many groups for the perceived lack of deference afforded to the Qur’an in the Xbox game. To date there has not been any evidence that Kakuto Chojin was re-released.
Design for Language Switching
- Language fallback
Language fallback is a concept by which if a product user in a specified region does not have their settings to the locale that has been chosen for localization in that region, the product will automatically revert to, or fallback, to a default language. In many cases, this may be English for a global audience, but that is not necessarily the case. For example, countries and regions which have multiple official languages and/or regional languages may have the fallback language as the most widely spoken language. As a case in point, Spain could have up to 3-5 locale options for users depending on how specified a product's user base would be in that country. Using this example, if the product were being used in Catalunya, the likely default setting would be Catalan (Català), but a likely fallback would be Spanish.
Language fallback can also apply to situations where products are not completely localized to a specified market. In these situations, a product would be partially localized and the specified language may not support all features. Therefore, for the unsupported features, a default language fallback will either need to be selected by the user or will be automatically chosen by the products settings. To illustrate this point, imagine that a product has features ABCD and the default product language is English. However, the user would like to use the product in Swedish, but Swedish is only currently supported for features ABC. The likely outcome to this situation would be that the user would be able to use features ABC that have been localized into Swedish and if they choose to use feature D, then the product will revert to the English version.
To further illustrate, one advantage and disadvantage to language fallback settings. If properly chosen, language fallback can help to keep the user engaged in the product by continuing to use the product's features even though it may not be in their preferred language. On the contrary, this is only relevant if the user has a high competency and comprehension of the fallback language chosen. If not, the outcome may lead to less customer satisfaction.
Since user satisfaction is a primary concern, a lot of attention is often paid to chasing the right language fallback to get the best possible engagement. Some popular blog site's such as Wordpress.org even offer plugins which can help to ensure that a proper fallback language is chosen. Other methods include adding rules to specify the process of falling back to other related dialects where a high level of mutual intelligibility would be apparent. American English and British English would be one common situation. Brazilian Portuguese to Continental Portuguese could also be an obvious transition.
Language Switching in Software
Language Switching on Websites
Companies and organizations wanting to branch out to other regions in the world and localize their products should consider the following things:
- Total Online Population (TOP)
- Share of TOP
- World Online Wallet (WOW)
- Share of WOW
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.
iOS App Store Localization
One of the most important factors for consumers to download mobile applications is the description found upon tapping a listed app. Naturally, they would want to read descriptions in their native or most comfortable languages. This way, they can reliably understand the content and intent of the application as well as read through the available reviews.
In the localization of mobile applications, companies focus most on how well their software is localized but often forget the crucial importance of application descriptions. Surely it is vital to have the application properly localized for its content but the initial point of contact for consumers with applications is through the listed app store description. A research conducted by Common Sense Advisory "Can't Read, Won't Buy: Why Language Matters On Global Websites" shows that 60% of consumers in France and Japan expressed interest in purchasing only from websites localized into their languages. Similarly, this preference to purchase through one's language of preference trickles down to an entire product's marketability.
Terms and Concepts
- Localization ROI
Localization ROI, or return on investment refers to the calculation of the benefits or outcome gained as a result of spending money or allocating resources, For instance, it can mean the money earned back in sales resulting from the money a company has invested in a localization program. The return can also refer to increased brand awareness, expanded market share, growth in foreign visitor traffic, etc. Corporate executives often use ROI as a key indicator of global value for their firm and localization managers would often use ROI to demonstrate the business value of localization. .
The dynamics of market development plays an important role in localization ROI. As a company progresses from market entry to market expansion and maturity, the localization ROI is likely to pick up. The more mature a product in one country, the higher return on localization investment is expected to be. For instance, if a product has been released in Japan for six years, and consistently available in updated, localized versions for four years, the ROI for localizing the next Japanese release is likely to increase. One reason is that the by leveraging the Translation Memory (TM) after a first release, the efforts and cost of localization will reduce; another reason is that the sales channel, brand awareness, and installed base have been established in the target market already. Therefore, one could use separate benchmarks for different market stage. .
- 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.
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.
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. 
In the outsourcing model the localization processes are outsourced to a third party in their entirety. Small and middle-sized companies might be the ones who have the greatest interest in this model, especially if they have no prior experience in localization and its practices. For them, outsourcing localization to a third party means being able to cut the costs of tools, education, hiring localization experts and translators, licensing and training which otherwise might override the costs of localization itself. The right vendor will be able to ensure better control and quality of the final product because of the availability of resources. A more detailed description of pros and cons of this model can be found at: Pros and cons However, the outsourcing company should assign the role of a subject matter expert (SME) to one of their employees who will be a point of contact for the vendor. 
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.
Community Localization is the act to taking job traditionally performed by professional translators and outsourcing it to a preexisting community of partners, end users, and volunteers. This may sometimes be confused with collaborative localization, which is the act of assigning translation to a team of translators using an online translation platform with centralized and shared translation memory to speed up translation by using internet-based translation technology.
If confidentiality is essential, for example in the case of a new product release, community translation is not a good solution. It is not possible and reasonable to expect community members to adhere to a non-disclosure agreement. In this case, professional translation or, if possible, in-house translation is the way to go.
The linguistic quality of community translated content will not equal that of content translated by professionals, although meaning typically will be translated correctly if the community is well-matched with the content. Quality can be increased by using glossaries developed in-house or by professional translators, using peer review and a mechanism to flag totally inappropriate translation, and implementing a separate review phase in the workflow carried out by in-house specialists, professional translators, or a very experienced subset of the community.
There are differences in which languages happens to be successful at doing community translation. Some smaller languages are dying to help you translation, so don’t overlook anyone. Being able to access a lot of these smaller pockets of users quickly can be an effective strategy for some.
An important feature of a successful community localization program is the quality of its moderation team. The best moderators are not those who provided the best translations, but those who voted up the best translation. Moderators’ important job is to actively find “broken windows” in the community to repair—things such as putting out grammar wars, organizing translatathons, glossary term discussions, etc. As a moderator, you have to act as a control and monitoring tool for the health of each community, making sure it has what t needs to be active and productive.
Major Challenges with Community Localization
- Finding communities—Most examples of community localization involve communities that were already involved with the organization ways other than translation: end users, partners or in-house personnel, or volunteer members. Creating end user or partner communities from scratch requires substantial work and support from experienced consultants. It is also possible to enlist help through an open call to translator marketplaces such as Mechanical Turk, Craig’s List, or oDesk. However, when using such an open call to translation marketplaces, it will be necessary to pay the translators unless the translation is for a charity or other non-profit organization with a perceived substantial social benefit.
- Matching the content with the communities—Community members are most often not linguists; instead, they are bilinguals with specific domain knowledge. The selected community needs to have both the capacity and the ability (domain knowledge) to translate the content. For some content, such as sales and marketing materials for a commercial enterprise, it will be very difficult to find communities with the ability to translate the content and the motivation to do so.
- Aligning community objectives and organization objectives—Most of the community management effort will go toward motivating the communities. Aligning the goals of the community with those of the organization seeking to use community translation is critical tot eh success of community translation. If there is no alignment, communities will falter or, worse, the effort will be perceived as exploitation by the organization. Community localization is not a means to get free translation for the organization’s content. Attempts by an organization to replace its translation service providers and professional translator with free community translation may have quality problems, and in some cases may fail and be criticized. Often when using semi-professional translators through one of the translation marketplaces, it becomes a trade-off between linguistic quality and cost.
- Identifying project management controls—Any project manager involved with community translation will wonder how to control deadlines, confidentiality, and quality. Control over deadlines requires a community translation platform that provides a means to set up deadlines and to report progress on a granular level. If missing a deadline becomes likely, the organization can then switch to professional translators.
Common Misconceptions about Community Translation
- Quality will suffer—In reality, the same pitfalls that apply to working with vendors with translations, also apply to working with community localization. Translations should be done in dialog with the initial creators of the content to ensure its meaning is properly interpreted.
- The speed at which translations can be completed are not able to be set—In reality, having a good moderation program and keeping a good enough pace is possible by steering users to content with the most priority.
- Community localization is cheaper than hiring professional translator—In reality, successful community localization programs costs are even or larger than contracting with a LSP, because salaries, servers, etc. can result in big monthly fees you have to pay even when you do not have a new language or new features to launch.
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.
In addition to grammatical and linguistic rules per language, style guides can include universal guidelines about how you would like certain items to be addressed in your documents such as: 1) what the tone of language should be on marketing documents versus technical documents; 2) how to format items like UI terms, dates, footnotes that may appear in localized content; 3) what fonts can be used.
Some companies publicly provide style guides;
Terminology database is a list of domain-relevant terms, and organized and flexible way to collect and reuse terms. It is useful to share the terms with everyone engaged in the localization project. Terminology database might be provided by client company, or they ask LSP to help create. Since target terminology may change during localization cycle, the list may need updates during the project. Terminological candidates can be extracted from existing corpus by simply using Word and Excel, or can be automatically extracted by tools.
Localization Vendors, or Language Service Providers (LSPs), first began appearing in the 1980s when industries such as automotive and medical saw the need to translate their content. It took several years for processes and tools to be developed to make localization work easier. When the world wide web began in 1991, advances in standardized processes and tools developed more quickly.
Today, there are two main models for localization vendors: being a multi-language vendor (MLV), or being a single-language vendor (SLV). Each kind of vendor can work directly with a client. Often though, a client will work with a MLV, who may have internal translation resources, contract with SLVs, freelance translators, or other MLVs. While some Localization Vendors specialize in certain areas, such as translation for the Life Sciences, most often they translate into a variety of vertical markets. Translation is not the only service that Localization Vendors can supply. Their services can also include:
- Machine translation
- Translation memory creation and/or management
- Terminology management: Glossaries, Style Guides, Do Not Translate lists, Term mining
- Localization engineering
- Software testing
- Desktop publishing
- Website localization
- Translation review/QA
- Audio voiceover recordings
- eLearning and MultiMedia
Localization Vendors often have tools like client portals or some proprietary version of a translation management system (TMS) that can automate tasks like generating quotes and moving files from one party in a workflow to the next.
Localization Vendors are often certified to various ISO (International Organization for Standardization) standards to ensure quality processes and practices are in place. Depending on what your organization’s requirements are, a LSP’s certifications are more or less important.
The localization kit provides materials pertinent to the localization project. This is edited and published by the project owner, i.e. either the client or a representative of the client. The kit provides information to address the needs of all stakeholders involved in the project (translators, engineers, subject matter experts, agencies) to ensure successful execution, collaboration, and delivery of the final product. The LocKit is therefore essentially a set of tools, resources, and instructions necessary for all team members to produce the localized version of a product, primarily software. The kit encompasses the resources, scope, and schedule of the product.
The kit typically includes:
- Localization instructions
- Style guides or brand guidelines
- Glossaries or any previous translations
- Staging information for online testing
- Tools and instructions
- Project timeframe
- Contact information for stakeholders
- Files to be localized
For a more detailed explanation of the file types that may be included in a localization kit: http://globalvis.com/2010/02/the-ideal-localization-kit/.
Localization industry standards permit the efficient sharing of translation data and improved workflow among translators, vendors, and other team members. The main benefit of standards is interoperability, which means that more collaboration is possible and data can be used with different tools and different versions of software.
The key localization industry standards include XLIFF, TMX, TBX, and SRX.
CAT (Computer-Assisted Translation) Tools are special software programs that allow translators to translate documents and text at a faster, more efficient rate and with accuracy. The specific function of a CAT Tool is to segment text so that it can be translated in parts. There are various forms of CAT Tools such as:
SDL Trados Cafetran WordFast Matecat OmegaT Kilgray Maxprograms
The file formats supported by CAT Tools include the following:
• Microsoft Word (.doc, .docx) • Microsoft Excel (.xls, .xlsx) • Microsoft PowerPoint (.ppt, .pptx) • QuarkXPress • Adobe InDesign • Adobe Framemaker • Adobe Pagemaker • HTML (.htm, .html) • RESX (.resx) • XML (.xml) • XLIFF (.xliff)
Benefits of using this tool:
Allows collaboration among groups of translators who can share Translation Memories to ensure the same sentences are never translated twice. A database of terminology is also stored for their benefit. In turn, this results in improved productivity and consistency across translations. There are also benefits for the client since it decreases their budget and ultimately saves time.
Like all automated programs, these tools do result in difficulties or errors which are usually due to insufficient knowledge on the part of the user since it takes time to learn the intricacies of these various associated programs.
How it works: First, the CAT Tool(s) will take any given text and parse it into segments of text to be translated. There will be a side by side comparison of the segmented text (original and what has already been translated).
Translation Management Systems
Translation Management Systems (TMS) aka Globalization Management Systems (GMS)
Globalization Management Systems
Prominent examples are:
- SDL WorldServer
- TMS Maestro
- Across Language Server
- XTM International
- memoQ Adriatic
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.
For individuals wanting to start their career or learn more about the localization/translation industry and its processes, volunteering is a great place to start. There are many places on the web to start volunteering as a translator/localizer, video subtitler, QA analyst, etc. Some places include TED Conferences, Mozilla, Facebook, Rosetta Foundation, and so on. Volunteering is not only a great way to get one's foot into the industry, but also get a chance to work and collaborate with other localization-related roles such as project managers and other linguists.
Video Games Localization
Video games localization is the adaptation process of a video game software and hardware that before being introduced to a particular country or region. This process may include translation of text, new audio, modifying storyline/characters, changing art, creating manuals and appropriate packing, and even adapting hardware to fulfill market standards, linguistic, cultural, legal needs, among others. Aside of economic and profitable reasons, the ultimate goal of video game localization is to replicate original –source e.g. English, Korean, Japanese, etc.- experience to an enjoyable adapted experience to the end user cultural context.
To localize a video game –like any other software- a localization kit is necessary. This kit will include resources that translator may need to localize all video game content and related materials. It is vital for the translators to understand the product to be localized, workflow, their respective roles and tasks.
- Tool Kit
Localization manual may include word count for all text and audio, special instructions, details, tools, formats, graphics, among other details. Text Non-gaming text Gaming text Glossary Dubbing materials (if applicable) List of characters and dubbing actors Dubbing text Audio file samples Graphics Interface Textures Fonts Tools (toolkit for localization and version compilations)
An organized and clear translation flow is vital for a successful content translation and eventual localization. This flow can vary, but often has usually six steps: review, translation, proofreading, creative rewriting, debugging/testing and delivery.
- Review the original files and determine what work is necessary, e.g. worldview, target demographic and region, file structure, tags and variables, character limits, line breaks (editable/un-editable), dialogues, etc.
- Translation starts using a translation tool and database or translation memory to keep consistency with vocabulary and phrasing.
- Proofreading by an editor to keep consistency of language, tone, correct mistranslations or missing content, character limits, etc.
- Creative rewriting is necessary to adjust a characters tone, speech and personality according target locale.
- Debugging and testing will report and fix any line break/position issue, truncation, broken strings, typos, etc.
- Delivery is the last step of process when files are deliver in MS Word/Excel/Power Point, HC TraTool, SDL Passolo/Trados/WorldServer, XTM, or other compatible format.
Common Issues in Video Games Localization
- Hard-coding text into the source code
Follow best string wrapping practices that fit internationalization standards. When extracting text from source code, make it into the resource file. Save one source file for each of game’s locales
- Insufficient contextual information
Localization project manager or person responsible for the localization should provide contextual information or answer any query regarding the project.
- Wrong type of game translators
Translators need be to be native speakers, preferably active gamer and be related with genre of game.
- Failing to test translations on a device
Pseudo-localization testing, in which you replace the textual elements is a common method. A simpler and more cost-effective is on-device localization testing, which has the benefit of letting gauge the overall quality of the localization and not just glitches. Also, set text space as autofit with the text, which prevents some of these common UI issues.
- Not paying enough attention to culturalization
Game-savvy native-speaker translators are the best cultural advisers!
- Poor translating management
Centralize translation management with a TMS (Translation Management System) to organize translations and reuse them.
- Treating localization as an afterthought
Think about localization from the start. Wrap strings at an early stage of development and have them ready for localization or tweak the coding style to meet international standards.
- 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
- Common Sense Advisory, "The 116 Most Economically Active Languages Online" by Benjamin B. Sargent, 2013
- DePalma, Donald A. et Hills, Mimi."Localization Returns on Investment: Quantifying the Value of Localization in High-Tech", April 2010, p.1
- Benjamin, B. Sargent."Calculating ROI in Software Localization", Software Business Magazine, July 2002, p.2
- 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.