In computing, localization is a means of adapting computer software to different languages and regional differences by adding locale-specific components and translating text.
Translations work best when the person has cultural context to allow for slang or idiomatic expressions and language structures that are difficult to build into machine language, that's why, whenever we think about technology and Africa, the importance of localization really sticks out.
Africa is home to about 2,000 languages, equivalent to one-third of the world’s living languages. The development of any nation today depends on the level and quality of producing, accessing, and disseminating local knowledge and technologies. Unfortunately, in most African countries foreign sources of knowledge and information are dominant and mastered by only a minority that can access this foreign language.
The links between the software industry and localization are strong and the commercial potential of developing software using African languages is enormous. The key is to bring software developers, linguists, and policymakers together to turn this into a viable and thriving sector, creating jobs, enabling millions of Africans to join the information and knowledge society, and ultimately contribute towards economic growth.
How does software localization differ from traditional document translation?
Software localization is the translation and adaptation of a software or web product, including the software itself and all related product documentation. Traditional translation is typically an activity performed after the source document has been finalized.
Translation is only one of the activities in a localization project – there are other tasks involved such as project management, software engineering, testing and desktop publishing. A software product that has been localized properly has the look and feel of a product originally written and designed for the target market.
A number of points have to be considered, as well as the language, in order to effectively localize a software product or website: measuring units, number formats, address formats, time and date formats (long and short), paper sizes, fonts, default font selection, case differences, character sets, sorting, word separation and hyphenation, local regulations, copyright issues, data protection, payment methods, currency conversion, taxes.
At Language Inc. our focus is the provision of custom-made language solutions to fit our clients’ needs. When it comes to software localization, we will make sure that all the above mentioned is addressed, and that your product is completely applicable to a country other than the one it was originally created for.
Until next week,
The Language Inc. team
Welcome to the very first blog of Language Inc. You can expect to find a variety of topics discussed here, and hopefully you will find them interesting, thought provoking, and even entertaining. In the first two posts, we will briefly look at some common problems translators are faced with, as well as what clients can do to make a translator's job just the tiniest bit easier.
Cultural references, jokes and euphemisms
Translators, and most other language practitioners for that matter, need to be aware of a company’s style and cultural differences of their documentation. Some companies prefer to hide unpleasant facts beneath understatements or euphemisms. It is paramount that the translated text is a true representation of the source text which should also reflect the nuances.
Clients can greatly assist the translator by explaining what these words or references mean or by giving functional equivalents, so as to not lose any part of the message in the translated version.
Accuracy and context
Some languages are less complicated than others in certain areas. For example, some language groups in Papua New Guinea have more than ten different words for varieties of sweet potato. The Inuit Indians of Canada have twenty different descriptions for "snow". English is not a precise language either where "Doctor Smith" could refer to either gender, but in Chinese one has to know the gender of the doctor to translate the word "doctor" accurately.
Therefore, it is essential that a client must try and give all possible and available information and context to a translator to enable more accurate translated text.
Although the above mentioned might seem like a lot of extra effort asked from a client it would aid the process of fast and accurate translation and also ensure the target population is effectively served with a good translation.
Next week's post will contain more obstacles and helpful tips for both the translator and the client. Our motto at Language Inc is that any project is not just a once-off transaction, we like to build relationships and get to understand your world and style. A good relationship equals a good product.
Until next week,