Sunday, October 2, 2011

What are localization and other scary words people use?

Newbies in translation and localization industry may be fascinated  or scared  by the terms pros use, like localization (or localisation in British English), globalization, internationalization etc. What exactly do these fancy terms mean and how are they different?
Localization (commonly abbreviated as l10n, first and last characters of the word plus 10 characters between them) means not just translating software but making it look and feel like it was originally written for the target market. Apart from the translation, the following issues must be taken into account.
  • Date formats; for example, for December 8th 1994 in United States we write 12/08/94, in Spain 08/12/94, in Germany 08.12.1994, in Japan 94/12/08. We should watch this very carefully, as these issues may lead to user confusion.
  • Time formats; in USA the AM/PM format is used but in most of European and Asian countries the 24-hour format is preferred.
  • Number formats; for example, in USA the thousand separator is a comma (2,244), in Germany it’s a period (2.244) and in Russia a space (2 244)
  • Address formats
  • Currency, telephone numbers, paper sizes, units of measurement
  • Cultural peculiarities; for example, some colors or signs/symbols may have different meaning in different Countries and cultures: white in Japan symbolizes death whereas in Western cultures it symbolizes purity.
  • National symbols and flags, appropriate country information
  • Idioms and proverbs of the local culture
  • Web links and addresses; for example changing to for France
  • Product and brand names. Note that most software applications are developed in English and when translating products names in most cases trademarked names are left in as-is (e.g.MicrosoftNikonNokia). but service names may need to be translated, for example Google Books is translated into German as Google Bücher, into Spanish as Google Libros etc.
Locale indicates the combination “language_country”, for example “en_us” is English language for US users, “en_gb” is English language for Great Britain. Other examples are Spanish for Argentina (“es_ar”), Urugay (“es_uy”) or Spain (“es_es”). When it comes to software development, language codes usually follow the ISO 639-1 standard, while Country codes follow the ISO 3166 standard. Language and Country codes are separated by a dash or by an underscore, depending on the development platform.
Software localization consists in the translation of all UI items and help information, if available.
Internationalization aims to make the product more general and support usage in multiple languages and different cultural environments, ready for localization. In most cases it is recommended to be done during the software development phase. Read more. Source: