Learning and Localization Blog

Translation and Localization:
Best Practices For Your Project

Published on Jul 30, 2015
Recently, Ingenuiti's very own Blake Dozier was asked by the the Virginia Economic Development Partnership (VEDP) to participate in a video series that helps defense companies market their offerings around the world.

In the video, Blake covers translation vs. localization, how to choose a vendor, translation memories, best practices, and more! We will be posting the video in two parts on our blog to help our readers learn more about taking their businesses global.

Read on for an overview and some key takeaways from the first part of the video, or watch the full video below.

Hi, I’m Blake Dozier with Ingenuiti and I’d like to take a few minutes to help you do business globally. No matter your level of experience you’ll be confident managing the translation of your company’s product. I’m going to give you some tips for choosing a localization vendor and best practices for localization.
Translation vs. Localization

You may be wondering why people sometimes use both the terms translation and localization. Translation is simply changing the words from one language to another. It does not take into account cultural differences or considerations about how your products or services should be described or marketed in another country.

Localization is more involved. Localization is the translation and adaptation of material for a specific country, region, or culture.

You may hear translation and localization used interchangeably, but translation is really just a step in localization. During the localization process a linguist will adapt the language by creating a linguistic equivalent - not a literal translation. He’ll assess the content for cultural implications. Your translator will change telephone number formats and times, dates or measurements to reflect that culture’s counting system. They’ll also assess or change any icons or graphics that will not make sense in the target culture.
Factors that Affect Localization

So, localization starts with translation but goes much further. There are multiple important factors when it comes to localization but most of them boil down to three (3) main areas: speed, quality and price. The best practices I will share with you today all fall into one of these. Unfortunately, it’s impossible to get all three without compromising on one.

If you go for the lowest price possible, you may be able to get speed but you won’t get quality. If you go to the highest quality localization provider, you may get speed but you will not get the lowest price. And, if you go to the localization provider that promises the fastest project completion, you may get a lower price but you won’t get quality. And often you'll have to pay extra for speed so you won’t get a low price or quality.

It is a good rule of thumb to choose the two factors that are the most important to you. For most of you, quality and price will be the most important factors.
Localization Best Practices

So here are some tips for planning a project to get the best results:
1. Appropriate Timing

Allow the appropriate amount of time – quality localization takes longer than you might think. A good professional linguist should be able to translate about 1500 – 2000 words per day depending on the language. But, what if you don’t have that much time?

In emergencies, you can have the localization company use more than one linguist to complete a project. This isn’t recommended unless it is absolutely necessary because language is subjective and two or more people can introduce inconsistencies into the translation. If you must use multiple linguists to get a project done faster, we always recommend the creation of a glossary of your company’s key terms so that they are each translating the most important words the same.

Be sure to package and send all of the final editable source files for the content you’re sending for the localization quoting.
2. Native Linguists

Make sure your localization company is using a native, in-country, full time professional linguists. They must be native to the area they are translating for otherwise they could introduce grammar, words, or phrases that aren’t appropriate.

Not only do they need to be native to the country or region they’re translating for, they need to be located in that country or region. Language changes considerably every couple years. If they haven’t been living there, they won’t be up to date on the latest terms, phrases or technical jargon related to the content. Just because someone is bilingual does not mean they are good with language, writing or concise translation. Think about how hard it is to find people with excellent writing skills that speak English as a first language.

Now also consider the challenges that could arise if you couldn’t proofread their work for yourself. Make sure the linguist working on your content is full time rather than translating for extra work on the side.
3. Single Reviewer

It’s always a best practice to have a bilingual subject matter expert within your company review the translation after the localization company has completed them and before they integrate them back into the document. However, if not done correctly, your bilingual reviewer can introduce chaos into the translation process.

Use one reviewer or have one person be the final say. Otherwise you’ll inevitably get conflicting reviewer comments that will slow down your process and potentially introduce inconsistencies. If possible, the reviewer should always be from the country or region that you’re targeting. If they’re not from that country or region, you must take extra care that the changes they suggest are appropriate.
4. Quality Project Manager

The success of your localization project can rise and fall on the quality of the project management. Make sure the localization company you choose uses dedicated US based project managers if you’re in the US. This avoids time loss due to the drastically different time zones. It makes it easier to call and ask questions at any time. You’ll get your own dedicated project manager which increases efficiency and allows you to build a long term relationship.
5. Effective Communication

Finally, be sure to over communicate. Always over communicate in the beginning of a project starting with your initial quote request. Don’t assume anything! Do not assume the localization company will know all the details of what you want.

They’re probably working on other projects at the same time, so it’s important to be very clear and consistent in every communication referencing the project. If you have a past translation that you like, make sure you send it to be used as reference material for the linguist.
Learn More

Ingenuiti is a program partner with the Virginia Economic Development Partnership's (VEDP) Virginia Leaders in Export Trade (VALET) program and their Going Global Defense Initiative, assisting companies with taking their businesses global.  To see the rest of the videos in the series, visit the VEDP's site.

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