Saturday, 7 August 2010

Localisation, translations and more

The globalisation of the net has actually increased the need for clear, informed translations as each local market and country tries to market globally. Don't assume that just because your company works only in English (and UK English at that), that you won't need to widen your perspectives for some clients in the near future. Web site localisation means translating the site into other languages to appeal better to people speaking those languages – including US English.

We only address the issues in our book in passing as localisation is too big a subject to address by itself. We can only raise awareness and suggest you ask the questions to find out the breadth and depth of what is needed. We investigate the clients' need under the scoping questionnaire at the beginning of a project, and then later guide you in the care needed in trying to cross cultures with communication especially with marketing and branding of products – some words, colours and humour do not transcend some languages and cultures well.

What services can a specialist translation company offer? Is it worth subcontracting a need for localisation? Yes, it is. This is a specialist area needing experienced people to do a quality job. The type of information in the site can increase the specialist need. For example, legal terms, medical or pharmaceutical terms, colloquial style, engineering/manufacturing bias and so on all demand more than a general native or near native speaker of the target language.

Sometimes the result of a mistranslation can be hilariously confusing. When Concorde was being developed, a promotional video was produced and one version was in Arabic. The story goes that during the voiceover session the speaker looked through the script and asked "What are water goats?" This turned out to be hydraulic rams (in the landing gear), although water goats does have a nice feel to it.

A good way to get more aware of the traps in this translation area is to look at a few online translation sites, how they price the different services they offer, how they delineate between the need for the use of highly paid people and the use of facilitators for a quick understanding. It isn't just what information you want to get across, it can also be how well it needs to be put across! In our project management process, we would see this as offering different costings for different levels of quality and allowing the client to decide how much they need an option for which cost. Of course, just as with all the other decisions about your project, you'd need to recognise the client expects translated sites and then probe to see what they want these sites to achieve.

Translating services have increased in complexity, price structure, and sophistication in the last few years. We know, yet another area to keep an eye on in such a complex project management maze as interactive media projects! Worth fifteen minutes, surely.

Browse the following to get a feel for what's on offer and how much it might cost (just for information; we have no experience of or connection with these companies):
There are even specialist software tools for Localisation - of course! SDL offer a few tools for the specialists, and a review of translation software tools 2010 is here:

Check that you are raising the issue of Localisation of digital information at the initial stages with your clients.

1 comment:

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