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Thursday, July 24, 2014

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Jul/Aug 2014

Post Editing: Cultural renegades

A few summers ago, as I was chatting late into the night with my Korean-American friend about the non-mainstream ways we grew up, it occurred to me that people raised more traditionally might have an easier time relating to cultures — such as many Asian cultures — that embrace collectivism over individualism, stronger power structures, strong family influence and so on....


Jul/Aug 2014

Off the map: The creative difference

Most of us who work in localization and culturalization have a pretty solid understanding of the types of content that are typically adapted for international markets. I would venture that the majority of content localized today involves pretty straightforward text copy and other media that are descriptive, logistical or administrative in nature — things such as user interface text, medical records, technical manuals and so on. I’m essentially referring to nonfiction types of content.

Because we operate within a consumer ecosystem that’s increasingly driven by digital content, we’re also seeing a continued increase in the need for adapting creative content, meaning more and more content like books, films, television programs and video games....


Jul/Aug 2014

Macro/Micro: Pragmatism, conflict and translation

I’ve written on war in this column before but only in the hypothetical. Now that it’s about two actual nations, both of which have MultiLingual readers, writing gets a lot more stressful. While I won’t say which side my politics align with, the first thing I have to do is admit a bias as a journalist: I have a clear opinion on right and wrong here. But what isn’t clear to me as a language service provider (LSP) owner is how our industry should handle the business side of this or any other war-like conflict....


Jul/Aug 2014

World savvy: Language and turmoil in Ukraine

Close to 300 million people spoke Russian in 1994, just after the fall of the Soviet Union. That number has already decreased by about 120 million, according to Russia’s Benjamin Kaganov, deputy minister of education and science. And the number of Russian speakers is projected to keep dropping in the next 50 years, something that has spurred Russia to allocate around $46 million to open language learning centers around the world....


Jul/Aug 2014

Perspectives: Creating a documentation team in India

If your team is like mine, you constantly face the challenge of doing more with the same or less staffing. We need to be flexible with finding quality employees, wherever that road might take us. In the case of Dassault Systèmes SolidWorks, that road took us to the 3DPLM offices in Pune, India.

In February 2014, my colleague Lyn Amidon and I traveled to India to greet and train our new technical writer, and to learn how to create and grow a SolidWorks documentation team there....


Jul/Aug 2014

East and West: Overcoming stereotypes

We all recognize that stereotypes are inherently unfair, and yet there is a sense in which they are not altogether unhelpful. It really is true that, in general, Americans (like me) are too loud, too direct and too informal when seen from the perspective of many other cultures. And it really is true that the cultural predispositions of many Asians to avoid causing others to “lose face” can result in severe communication problems when combined with the direct Western approach to problem resolution. So with these cultural characteristics as a backdrop, we explored several areas that often give rise to difficulties between us, inhibiting our ability to serve our customers effectively....


Jul/Aug 2014

Underserved Asian markets

We discovered that Indonesian, Malaysian and Filipino are underrepresented in global websites compared to to Korean, Traditional Chinese, Thai and Vietnamese. Part of this has to do with lower per capita incomes, but the other reason is higher tolerance for English....


Jul/Aug 2014

Korean introduces new challenges to localization

These factors would likely make you think that localization is a widespread, well-developed industry in Korea — a been-there-done-that kind of field, with trials made and errors fixed as Korean-made goods and services swarm the world and global businesses target eager consumers in the tech-hungry country.

Quite to the contrary, localization is still relatively unknown and underdeveloped. Not a single major localization conference has taken place in the country, for example. Ask a professional translator whether they have heard of “localization,” and only few would answer yes. Localization is still not mentioned in major translation schools, let alone included in the curriculum. This is in stark contrast to many education institutions in other countries with localization courses and degrees....


Jul/Aug 2014

GMX-V: Slaying the word count dragon

One of the most enduring features of the localization industry has been the inconsistency of word counts, not only between rival products, but also sometimes between different versions of the same product. Trying to establish a measure for the size of a given localization task is not unlike trying to fight a many-headed dragon — with Asian languages that use different writing systems providing additional challenges.

The havoc that the lack of a uniform system of measurement can cause was exemplified in 1999 when the Mars Climate Orbiter Spacecraft was lost because one NASA team used imperial units for a key spacecraft operation, while another used metric units. The total cost of this error was $125 million. Trying to cope with a lack of a common definition for estimating the size of a localization task can be equally catastrophic....


Jul/Aug 2014

History of the localization industry in mainland China

The service pattern of localization companies underwent remarkable changes starting in 2002. Outsourcing service companies began to purchase localization companies, and traditional localization companies tended to transform into outsourcing service providers. For example, Worksoft changed its software localization service into a software outsourcing service. Henceforth its development was sped up and it became one of the listed companies of the New York Stock Exchange as the leading enterprise of China’s software outsourcing service industry. Localization technology has also been developing rapidly in the past decade. SJTU Sunway Software Industry Limited was the first to formulate the concept of “information localization” in China, and in 2004 it successfully developed Yaxin CAT, a computer-aided translation tool, with the ambition of becoming the largest information localization expert in the Asia-Pacific region....


Jul/Aug 2014

The future of technology in ASL translation

As we all know by now, technology is constantly changing the way we interact with other people and the world around us. Machine translation has been around for many years, and its reliability and accuracy is improving all the time. The same sort of technology has even begun to be applied to spoken language, with translator apps available on many smartphones. Of course, the hit-or-miss accuracy and reliability of these technologies means that they are no substitute for professional human translation, and are unlikely to become so, but they provide examples of how technology has begun to explore language and can provide valuable tools to those who are unable to access or afford professional services....


Jul/Aug 2014

Audio localization from films to games

My group at Warner Bros. (WB) had been dubbing movies in more than 25 languages for more than 15 years when we began game localization. This led us to approach this new challenge from a different angle than the rest of the industry. It appeared to me that applying our expertise in film dubbing to game localization was the most logical thing to do and, most importantly, it was what everyone in the game industry wanted at the time: high-quality dubbing for games. This may seem simple, but the film world and the game world were (and still are) far away in the localization universe, and this is where this new gig became really challenging....


Jul/Aug 2014

Communicating value in business terms

Key performance indicators should be used to manage a business by helping assess progress against stated strategies. They must then be relevant to that particular business and its strategy, and supposedly have a significant impact. Therefore, they should be revisited frequently to drive appropriate actions.

In today’s knowledge economy, company value is no longer driven primarily by physical assets, but is increasingly attributable to nonfinancial business drivers. Success and future value creation depend on the effective measurement and management of these critical nonfinancial or intangible resources that comprise the intellectual capital of the business....


Jul/Aug 2014

Localizers could help brands find the “love”

I suspect many of us in the localization industry would be thrilled to be invited to the table to help overcome such a challenge. But with a few notable exceptions, we generally are not. I wonder why? As insightful cultural and linguistic experts, often with significant networks and resources in the global markets in which these brands operate, more of us ought to be involved upstream instead of downstream. Besides, as a Japanese man who grew up loving American culture — and eating my fair share of Big Macs — I ought to know something about Japanese McDonald’s, both as a customer and as a localization specialist....


June 2014

Post Editing: Celebrating nerdiness

The first time I played a video game, I was 18. Prior to me being 18, my entire family was so nerdy we didn’t even have television. You see, being homeschooled until college without technology is basically like growing up in the 1950s. Especially if you’re homeschooled by people who grew up in the 1950s. Basically I just quilted, wrote Star Wars plays for my siblings to enact and read J.R.R. Tolkein books all day — and I am exaggerating only very slightly. So that first time I played a video game, I lost spectacularly. I was too much of a nerd to be any good at video games...


June 2014

SDL Trados 2014

Upon first launch, the user is greeted by a welcome screen containing links to the most important work areas within the software, either from the ribbon or from a navigation panel on the left-hand side. The top of the navigation panel contains an area that displays applications from OpenExchange. The prominent positioning of this display is a not-so-subtle hint at the importance SDL has placed upon OpenExchange as an extension of the core product functionality. Four applications are listed by default, followed by a link to the OpenExchange website.

Although OpenExchange has been available to licenced Trados Studio users since the 2009 version (Service Pack 3), providing users access to a variety of helpful utilities that could run alongside Trados, the 2014 release has made use of a new Integration application programming interface (API) that allows developers to embed their applications directly into the Trados user interface. OpenExchange applications thereby become part of the overall user experience, extending the core product functionality with a palette feature set that is essentially limited only by the time, resources and interest of third-party developers....


June 2014

Off the map: The risks of stereotyping

Stereotypes are rampant across all forms of popular media, and we’ve seen them evolve for the better over time yet some have a long way to go to see improvement. But what exactly is a stereotype? Strictly from a dictionary definition, it’s “the widely held but fixed and oversimplified image or idea of a particular type of person or thing.” Most usually, this image or idea doesn’t reflect the reality of the person, place or thing, and thus it can potentially perpetuate a misperception of that entity, usually to its detriment. After all, it’s rare that a stereotype is actually a more positive reflection than the reality....


June 2014

Macro/Micro: A tale of two toothbrushes

I personally find Beam Technologies’ approach to all this refreshing. Instead of picking up their leftover toothbrushes and going home, Beam Technologies is staying positive. And they’re also letting Procter & Gamble do the heavy lifting when it comes to client education. “We’ve hardly spent a dime on marketing,” Frommeyer told me. But February 2014, the month of the announcement, was Beam Technologies’ best sales month ever. Since the announcement, the company has been interviewed by The Wall Street Journal, Christian Science Monitor, Bloomberg Media Group and also yours truly. When asked to describe in one word how this disruption has affected his business, Frommeyer’s word is “money.”...


June 2014

Perspectives: What’s behind the curtain of translation?

We don’t always know every service provider’s process, and that’s okay. It’s enough that the quality is there ... right?

During my tenure in the language services business, I’ve found this to be a loaded question when it comes to machine translation (MT). Many clients request content translation with quick turnaround without asking how it gets done. For these buyers, as long as there’s a quality process firmly in place, and the final product makes the grade, it’s a successful transaction. Assuming all conditions are right, a solution involving MT can cut costs for the vendor as well as the client while accelerating delivery and ensuring superb quality....


June 2014

Getting started with game localization

Targeting new regional markets is always a challenge for game producers, as high-quality translation is often not enough for the product launch to become rewarding. To ensure the game is successfully introduced to the target audience and to eliminate possible retail risks, it is important for the product to be perfectly adapted to all the regional requirements and standards, taking into consideration a significant number of social, cultural and legal aspects. Proper localization requires a considerable amount of resources and effort; therefore, detailed step-by-step planning is crucial for a successful project....


June 2014

Employing video recording techniques in localization

The past 12 months have been particularly significant for the video game industry. The market is now extremely diversified, thanks to a broad range of gaming platforms that differ in cost, technical features and user bases. This unprecedented heterogeneity has allowed for a wide gaming scenario: on one side of the spectrum we have witnessed the final consecration of indie games, titles created by talented developers who often work solo or in smaller teams....


June 2014

A quest for quality in video game localization

It was a chance we could not miss. Up until 2011 my company was essentially a single language vendor, translating a wide range of content from or into Russian, with a focus on huge Chinese and Korean online role-playing games for Russian players.

Suddenly it all changed — mobile and casual games boomed, while the massively multiplayer online role playing game market got saturated and stabilized. Hundreds of new mobile developers and publishers appeared, often with little expertise in internationalization and no staff to manage localization in-house, let alone to manage each target language separately. The new client typically wanted only one or two providers to handle a whole line of game titles as well as regular updates and marketing phrases. Most of them wanted this done simultaneously into ten or more languages, for players in the Americas, Europe and Asia....


June 2014

Using the crowd in game development

The term crowd brings with it rather negative connotations. Except for certain venues such as music shows, no one likes to be crammed together with a bunch of other people. Crowd is mostly associated with lack of space, lack of air, highly infringed individualism and thus group mentality, mass production and mass consumption.

However, with the development of the crowd-oriented systems, the cloud-based solutions now so popular in our industry have been incorporated as the best model for putting together great numbers of individuals, revving them into production mode and providing them with collaboration platforms for intellectual exchange and data sharing....


June 2014

An introduction to XLIFF 2.0

What is new with 2.0? To start with, the new version is not backward compatible with 1.2. This allows for a new structure with a different representation of the segmentation, as well as an important feature often requested: modularity. The specification splits the format into a base namespace called the Core that all implementations must support and several specialized optional modules. This separation ensures the stability of the format while providing the possibility of future enhancements....


June 2014

Terminology as a knowledge asset

I applaud any initiative that recognizes terminology data as a knowledge asset. Provided that it is properly structured, terminology data is indeed a knowledge asset in a most discreet and repurposable form. Bridging so-called flat terminology and structured concept models is a welcome approach in the multilingual communication field. Yet for far too long, terminology management systems designed for computer-assisted translation, which have dominated the landscape of terminology tools, have not bought into this concept. The functionality necessary to produce a hierarchically structured knowledge base is missing from these systems, even though for years some users, myself included, have been advocating for extending translation-oriented termbases into knowledge-rich repositories....



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