The translation category features all blog posts related to the world of translation. Read posts on multilingual translation and translation services. Subscribe to us.

Localization: Getting it right first time

First-time localization and how to get it right

  1. Is your product internationally ready?
  2. How should you have it translated?
  3. What do you want the translation vendor to do?
  4. What information does my translation vendor require?
  5. Summary

Breaking into international markets is a daunting task for companies. It can be an expensive part of your budget to do it for the first time, so it’s important to get it right. Localization is more than just translating the words. Asking the right questions at the start ensures you deliver a successful and profitable first-time localization project.

1. Is your product internationally ready?

Before you begin translation of your products interface, text and files you need to ensure that the product is ‘Internationally Ready’.

There are two elements to this: internationally enabled and internationally aware.

Internationally Enabled

If a user took your product today and installed it on a French, German of Japanese system, would it still work in English? Even though your product may be developed in English it should
be designed to run on the same operating system in different languages. For example, many network administrator tools are only in English but run on operating systems in every language as English is the common language of many network administrators around the globe.

When talking to your translation vendor you will often be asked if your product is DBCS enabled or Unicode enabled. This essentially asks if your product is designed to handle multiple character sets and is enabled to work on multiple languages operating systems. Your product must be enabled before you can localize it.

Internationally Aware

Translation is more than just words. Around the world there are many local differences; the US uses dollars and Europe uses Euro. Some countries use commas for thousand separators others use the period. There are many elements for which to test your product.

  • Local testing issues
  • National conventions
  • Date format support
  • Time format support
  • Numeric formats
  • Currency formats
  • List separators
  • Telephone numbers
  • Address formats
  • Proper names and titles
  • Measurement systems
  • Page formats
  • Conventions for capitalization, uppercase and lowercase
  • Comparing and sorting
  • Paper size, envelope format and addresses

When it comes to the international testing of your product all of the above local issues need to be covered. You should also check sample file names and contents for local issues. It’s a common error to have data in your sample files that causes internal problems. There is a tendency for example to use flags in software to signify country information. This can be politically sensitive in some countries as is not normally recommended.

Your product should be able to read such items from the operating system instead of assuming defaults value. If you correctly handle the various international elements you are said to be internationally aware.

Watch out for common coding errors

One of the most common faults that prevents product being translated is the hard-coded string. In order to translate a product the translation teams must be able to access your text, dialogs and strings in order to replace them with the target language equivalent.

It is a very common error for software developers to place text inside code such as HelloString = “Hello” + “What is your” + “name”;

Embedding strings in code like this makes it very difficult to translate them.

Top 10 tips for Software Developers

1. Use Multibyte Functions
Always use multibyte formats of code functions. Check your developer API for more details.
2. Third-party Tools
Test all third-party tools: APIs, add-ons and plug-ins and make sure they are internationally enabled.
3. UI Separation
Keep your UI separate from the code. Don’t hard-code strings. If you do, the translators can see them.
4. Concatenation
Don’t concatenate strings as language structure changes from language to language. Your code may have be reengineered later.
5. Chars
Do not use ‘Chars’ for string parsing, unicode characters are multi-byte.
6. Expansion
Leave at least 20% expansion room on all dialogs. Most languages are longer that English.
7. No Assumptions
Never assume default values. The name for the default page format in the US is letter. In Europe it’s labelled A4.
8. Mock Translation aka Pseudo Translation
Mock translate to ensure everything works before translation begins.
9. Input Methods
Ensure all character entry methods are IME compliant for Asian languages.
10. Local Testing
Check your code handles all local issues, see local testing issues

2. How should you have it translated?

There are two schools of thought on how best to translate: binary translation or source file translation.

Binary Translation

If your product is correctly enabled and has followed all the guidelines for separating text from code then this is the ideal method.

You product is compiled as normal. This creates the various running executables DLLs, EXE etc for your product. However as the UI elements are separated from code translation tools can extract, translate and replace text in the binary files. The main advantage of this system is the speed of translation as it does not interrupt your development process. This disadvantage of this system is that you have to track all of the DLLs and program files in your products source control system.

As the translation teams do not touch any code it greatly reduces your exposure to errors. Therefore you do not have to compile your code; testing time is greatly reduced, saving you money
and getting your international product to market faster.

Source File Translation

This is the traditional approach where your source files are sent to the vendor for translation. Translation tools parse your source text and identify the strings for translation. The advantage of this system is that the files transferred can be small. You simply send the files to the translation vendor who returns them. When returned the files are simply dropped back into
the source control system and recompiled. The disadvantage is that it is error prone and errors are usually only found at compile time which is an expensive area of development to fix errors. It also means that you need to test your product more as each language build is essentially a new product.

Why is this important?

There are a variety of different software tools and you need to be aware which ones best fit the method of translation for you, and which ones your translation vendor is strongest with. Each translation vendor has particular strengths: some are better at binary translation, others are better at source file translation. So you need the right system for you and the right system for your vendor in order to be successful.

3. What do you want the translation vendor to do?

This may seem like a simple question but is an important one to ask. There are two options to answering this question.

  • translate the files only
  • deliver a working translated product

Translate the files only

For most companies they prefer to just have the vendor translate the files and return them. These files are then incorporated back into the product development them where the language versions are compiled and foreign language versions build. They are then tested internally or outsourced to a vendor to test.

Deliver a working translated product

The alternative method is to have the vendor fully Localize the product. The translation vendor completely translates, builds and tests the full foreign language product. You then receive back a full working version of your product in the new language. This is often referred to as ‘gold master’ delivery.

4. What information does my translation vendor require?

Is your product enabled?

Most translation companies offer internationalisation (i18N) services. So this is one of the first questions you will be asked. What is important to the vendor if to simply the translation process and eliminate all potential international errors for you before you start.

What file format is your product developed in?

There are a variety of different software tools and you need to be aware which ones best fit your process. Most vendors work with a wide variety of translation tools. Some file formats also require special skills to translate them. So the translation vendor needs to understand what tools are best for your product and what people resources are required to deliver the best product for you.

How many files are in your product? And what is the word count?

Typically translation projects are priced on a word basis for translation and a file basis for engineering work. Having this information enables the vendor to accurately price your translation project for you. You should be aware that prices vary from language to language and vendor to vendor, depending on how their systems and tools work. The more you understand what system best fits your process the easier it is to understand, which is best for you. Cheapest is not always the best.

Before you engage with a vendor you should have the following information to hand.

Internationally enabled
List what languages your product has been enabled and tested for.
Internationally aware
List what international testing your English product has undergone.

File formats used in product

List all file format types here.

Number of files
List the number of files for each type.
Word count
You should be able to identify the types and volumes of words for each file format.

How are we translating?

Source of Binary Method? What are we asking the vendor to do? Translate or deliver gold master?

5. Summary

In summary, the key items to ensure your successful translation project are:

  1. ensure your product is internationally enabled.
  2. decide if translating binary or source files.
  3. decide what exactly you need the translation vendor to deliver.
  4. reaching out to new markets is a very exciting process for any company, especially markets that do not speak your language. It can also be a daunting task when you are new to the translation process. However with careful planning and preparation the process can be done smoothly ensuring it is a successful and profitable venture.

The STAR Team

This document has been compiled by Damian Scattergood, managing director of STAR Translation. Damian has over 20 years of experience in the localization and translation business. He has worked both on the producer side and vendor side of the business. He regularly contributes to industry publications on translation and localization topics and is recognised as an authority in the field of localization.

Audio Translation Guidelines

Audio Translation Guidelines from STAR Translation

Choosing the Script’s Tone (and the actor)

One of the first decisions in audio translation is to decide how the voice translation tone should be.

Should it upbeat and youthful, professional and accurate, even paced or high energy? Our recommended mode for most translations is to use a professional newscaster-style, which conveys solid and accurate information of your products.

The second decision is whether to use male or female voices. This is ultimately the customer’s decision. Where possible, we choose female voices for product marketing material. You should also choose your actor carefully as you may need to update scripts in the future — you need to ensure their availability when required — voice talent is always booked in advance.

Technical Pronunciation

For technical marketing, there are a number of ways to pronounce your products terminology.

Actors will by default for IT products use a US-style pronunciation for IT terminology such as iPod, Internet, NAS, DHCP etc, as this is the way words are commonly pronounced around the world.

Occasionally some clients will have specific pronunciation-style requests for new technology or key product names. We will always strive to determine if such requirements are required in advance.

Developing your script – Timing

When you record your original English voice script you should remember the following points for translation.

  1. Translation typically will be longer, sometimes up to 30%. Therefore you should leave additional time spacing in your audio or video links to incorporate this potential change.
  2. Translation language order can also change. For some languages the order of words in sentences can change. So for example if you have the text “to see a demo, click here”, you cannot rely on the timing of the term “click here” in your video.

Default rule: record segments of your script and leave appropriate extra silences for the translators.

Audio and Video Timing Adjustments – Tracking

When syncing a video clip to an audio clip, we recommend you record as above segments of text rather than have one single continuous recording.

The English version is actually broken into a string of key audio segments marked with silence markers. These silences can then be expanded by the translation team to ensure the translation matches your video.

If you have four sequence shots in your video, it would be best to have four audio segments joined as a single audio file. This ensures the translation process is smoother and delivers higher quality results.

Working with Source Files – Timing

For all audio translations we only work with source files from you. This ensures that our timing sequences match yours exactly. Playing files from CDs or streaming video can impact the timing based on CD speed or the speed of a weblink.

The Audio Translation Process

The process we utilize for translation of audio is as follows.

  1. First we obtain a written copy of your script.
  2. The script is then translated into the target language.
  3. Any terminology issues or questions are identified at this stage. We also review the text with respect to general timing and length of text. If the text is too long, we will adjust the translation accordingly with advice from the you.
  4. We select the voice artist for your audio translation.
  5. We review the video or audio for key timing points and translation suitability.
  6. We translate/record each of your files in segments matching timing and tracking information as appropriate.
  7. When completed, we check the audio track against your original for timing and translation quality before finally delivering the completed translation back to you.

The STAR Team

Manitowoc chooses GRIPS

Manitowoc chooses GRIPS as its global CMS

Manitowoc, also known as Manitowoc Cranes Inc. selects STAR Group for its enterprise-wide product information management system.

Manitowoc evaluated a number of global content-management-system suppliers over a period of 12 months before choosing GRIPS, STAR’s corporate, technical communication platform.

Manitowoc will use GRIPS to produce serialized, technical product manuals for all Manitowoc Cranes Inc. products worldwide.

About STAR Group

STAR Group was founded in Switzerland 25 years ago with the exclusive focus of facilitating cross-cultural technical communications in all languages.

The company has grown to be the largest privately held multilingual information technology and services company in the world with 42 offices in 32 countries.

The company’s advanced technology developments have propelled it to its current market position.

The STAR Team

TILP Launches 2009 Certification Program

Registration is now open for the latest Certification in Localization Professional program, otherwise known as TILP.

About TILP

For more information visit: TILP Online.

Register online to The Institute of Localisation Professionals. *Website no longer operates*

If you are a localization professional looking to extend your skills, then this is the program for you!

The STAR Team

*Updated: 20th May 2015

Case of Mistaken Identity | Polish Driver Lost in Translation

Case of the Mistaken Driver, Prawo Jazdy

In a classic case of mistaken identity, the case of the famous Polish Driver Prawo Jazdy has been solved; the true identity of the driver has been given.

Over the last few years, the named Polish driver had been stopped and issued with several driving offences. However each time he gave a different address. Recorded in 2007 the driver had more than 50 driving offences and the Gardai were keen to catch up with him.

The Garda Pulse system was working overtime trying to identify him.

The case was solved when a member of the garda traffic division checked the name in the Polish-English dictionary.

Prawo Jazdy is actually the Polish for driving licence and not the driver’s name.

The error occurred as this appears at the top of all Polish drivers’ licences and would appear to someone (who does not speak the language) that it is the driver’s name. It is only under this title that the text for first and last names are displayed.

A Garda source has reported that steps have been taken in the case and the issue has since been resolved.

The STAR Team

Transit and TermStar XV Service Pack 24 Released

Service Pack 24 Released, Transit XV and TermStar XV

We would like to announce that Service Pack 24 is now available for download on our ftp-server and on our Website.

Detailed information on new features and improvements implemented with this Service Pack can be found in the readmetr.htm and readmets.htm
Apart from bug fixes Service Pack 24 contains the following new features (for more details please refer to the Transit readme file):

New features

  • Transit NXT Project Support

With Service Pack 24, receiving, processing, and sending of Transit NXT projects will be enabled. Additionally, a NXT-XV conversion add-on has to be installed.

The add-on is available on the Transit NXT installation CD.

  • TermStar filter functionality enhancement
  • TermStar import enhancement

For more information on the enhancements, please refer to the readmetr.htm file

Important Information

The update for TermStar is integrated in trsp24.exe which you can find in the Transit directory. An additional installation of the updates of the TermStar directory is not necessary.

In Service Pack 24 all changes and improvements of the previous Service Packs are integrated.

Please proceed as follows for the installation of the Service Pack 24:

Download the files trsp24.exe and installation_sp.pdf. Installation instructions are included in the pdf file. Detailed information on the improvements can be found in the files readmetr.htm and readmets.htm.

Please proceed as follows for the installation of the help file…

  1. Install Service Pack 24 and then the help file
  2. For installation instructions please refer to the file installation_help.pdf

The aforementioned files can be downloaded from the following… Transit Service Packs XV.

The STAR Team

Lost in translation: Welsh sign translation error

Welsh sign translation error, Swansea council

In November, Swansea council made the ultimate translation faux pas with a Welsh sign.

The original sign read, “No Entry for heavy goods vehicles. Residential site only“. The sign was to be erected close to a supermarket near a residential area.

The text was sent for translation but unfortunately, the translator was not in the office. Instead his email sent an automated response.

The automated email stated:

Nid wyf un y swyddfa ar hyn o bryd. Anfonwch unrhyw wiath i’w gyfieithu.“, which in English translates to “I am not in the office at the moment. Please send any work to be translated.

As the original message contained two sentences, the receiver assumed this was the correct translation. Thus forwarding the translation to the sign makers to be printed. The sign was printed and duly erected.

Swansea council stated that the sign would be corrected as soon as possible – a new sign now stands in its place.

The moral of the story is always proofread before you print.

“People rely on email all too often for basic communication on projects. When a translation is only two lines, people tend to treat it with indifference”, Damian Scattergood commented. “We have found that some people translate two lines like the safety warning stickers you see on kitchen appliances, signs and posters. The use of free translation tools and expecting the results to be perfect do not mix.”

“For us, every translation whether it’s two or two million words should to be handled with the same due care and attention. A simple phone call in this case would have saved money and embarrassment for all”, added Damian.

Damian Scattergood is the Managing Director or STAR Translation.

The STAR Team

Next Level of Translation Memory, Transit NXT

Welcome to Transit NXT

It is with great pride and pleasure that we announce the release of Transit NXT — the next generation of STAR’s translation memory app.

STAR is a leading supplier of language technology with more than 20 years of experience in the field. Sustainable ideas, enthusiastic users and the continuous development of the tools are the most important reasons why Transit, TermStar and WebTerm have enjoyed lasting success in the market.

In parallel to the enhancements of the current version Transit XV, the product managers have had intensive collaboration with the development team and many power users regarding which new functions and innovations would be needed in the field of translation and localization. The ideas and concepts, as well as the performance, have been tested with numerous prototypes and the new version has matured via the help of our internal professional users.

At the tekom conference last autumn, the public was given the first preview of the new look and feel. The internal and external user groups have contributed to the further enhancement and optimization of the product with their feedback and demanding questions. During the past eight months, Transit NXT has been tested in production work both inside and outside the STAR Group. The tests focused on compatibility between the current Transit generation and the next generation due to Transit’s new functions, interface and role-based model. The new localization features (resource editor), the new mark-up-strategy (automation) and the target language fuzzy matching have all had to prove their usefulness and usability.

20 years of know-how with a new look and feel, an appealing and user-friendly interface and even more powerful new functions combine to define the concept Transit NXT. The well-balanced combination of proven ideas and principles, innovation and focus on the needs of the users has been the desired end result. It’s a mature product that satisfies the most stringent demands. The software is now available in the UK and Ireland.

New Features

DLL & EXE Editors

You now have the ability to edit and translate DLLs and EXEs.

Bubble Windows

Bubble windows, providing a dynamic representation of fuzzy matches, allow you to make even more efficient use of the Transit editor.

Fuzzy Term

Transit’s tried-and-tested ‘Fuzzy logic’ is now also available in TermStar NXT. Fuzzy search in TermStar NXT not only finds items which precisely correspond to your search term, but also all similar entries contained in the dictionary.

Dual Fuzzy

Your reference material now has even more value. Dual Fuzzy logic in Transit NXT not only takes account of the source text when searching for translation suggestions, it now also looks at the target text.

Synch View

Using the PDF viewer for FrameMaker, QuarkXpress, InDesign and PowerPoint, the translator, reviewer or terminologist can display the fully structured source text in synchronisation with the language pair.

Advance to the NXT level of translation technology

The STAR Team

Localization Certification Program: USA and Germany

Enrollment is now open, Localization Certification Program

The fourth annual Localization Certification Program and Localization Project Management Certification will be offered in San Francisco and Cologne in 2009.

The program was developed to answer a need for trained localization professionals. It has evolved to include project management certification, recognizing that organizational structure and discipline are necessary skills in any localization project. More than 300 professionals have now received localization certification through the program.

Localization Certification Program

From 23rd to 25th March 2009: hosted by San Francisco State University downtown campus, San Francisco, USA.

From 11th to 13th May 2009: hosted by Cologne University of Applied Sciences (Fachhochschule Köln), Cologne, Germany.

Localization Project Management

From 26th to 27th March 2009: hosted by San Francisco State University downtown campus, San Francisco, USA.

From 14rd to 15rd May 2009: hosted by Cologne University of Applied Sciences (Fachhochschule Köln), Cologne, Germany.

To enrol or learn more, please visit the California State University, Chico’s website.

The STAR Team

ASLIB: Translating and the Computer 30

ASLIB: Translating and the Computer 30

The next ASLIB conference will take place at Camden Lock in London from 27th to 28th of November 2008.

The longest running conference series in the world dealing with translation automation holds its 30th anniversary session this year.

Topics include the wikifization of translation and crowdsourcing, the African Network for Localisation, quality assurance and hybrid translation automation solutions.

Special panels will discuss the past and the future of MT with contributions from world-leading experts, translators and developers.

The STAR Team