One of the changes brought by the COVID-19 pandemic was the increase in global e-commerce. Lockdowns across the globe resulted in more people turning to online alternatives for their purchases. According to the UN’s trade and development experts, “the e-commerce sector saw a “dramatic” rise in its share of all retail sales, from 16 percent to 19 percent in 2020”. (Source: Global e-commerce jumps to $26.7 trillion, fuelled by COVID-19 | | UN News). 

As a small e-business owner in Nigeria, can you afford not to take advantage of this increase in trade volume? Have you considered breaking into new markets in Africa? If your answer is ‘No’ to the first question and “Yes” to the second, then localizing your e-commerce website might just be what you need. 

Let’s start from the beginning, shall we?

What is Localization?

Imagine you want to buy a small life-saving device produced and sold in China. You might have found what you need on Company A’s website, and while the pictures show the correct device, the product description and payment information are in Chinese. If you speak Chinese, then all is well. But if you do not speak the language, you will have to find an alternative: Company B, selling a similar device on an English website. This is what localization does – it adapts products and services to the locales where those products and services will be marketed. 

Localization goes beyond translating the language however, it takes into account the cultural, legal and regulatory issues specific to each locale. 

Let’s come back to your e-commerce website.

How can localizing your e-commerce website help your business?

From our previous example, you could not purchase the device you needed because you cannot speak Chinese. That was one customer lost. If twenty thousand non-Chinese speakers were to leave Company A’s website and order from Company B, that quickly adds up. 

In your case, localizing your website could attract and retain new customers from countries or even regions that you previously could not access. Think about what this could do for your annual revenue! 

Other benefits of localization include:

  • More visibility for your website as it would show up in more SERPs.
  • If you also applied an SEO strategy in the development of your website, your page will rank in more languages.
  • Build trust for your products/services, as customers tend to trust websites in their languages more.

So, you have decided to localize your business website, what’s next?

How to localize your e-commerce website

You should start with identifying the target markets you would like to break into, then perform a good old market survey. You need to also prepare a localization strategy tailored to your business. You can check out this article for ideas: Brand Internationalization Strategies – Master TCLoc (unistra.fr)


Next, consider the best way to localize your website so that it remains relevant in most locales where your target language is spoken. In your case, if you were thinking of francophone Africa, you would need to know the cultural differences and nuances of North African French from the West African variant. This article could help guide you in using a neutral language approach to localizing your website: Localization: Using Neutral Language to Cover More Target Markets – TCLoc Master’s (unistra.fr)

Conclusion and Next Steps

If you have the time and would like to localize your website yourself, do look up the TcLoc program from the University of Strasbourg: TCLoc: Master’s in Technical Communication and Localization | TCLoc (unistra.fr)

And thank me later.

Every year, digital content becomes vaster and more relevant, especially after a pandemic that forced users around the world to manage almost every aspect of life remotely. In this era, accessibility plays an important role, so all types of people can access that ever-increasing content. In this article, we explore three main things for translation project managers to take into consideration when working on accessibility compliance in translation projects.

Accessibility Standards

One of the first things to know before working with accessible documents is the expectations of the client regarding compliance. Most clients will refer to WCAG, which stands for Web Content Accessibility Guidelines. The WCAG is a document that aims to define how to make web content more accessible to people with disabilities. These guidelines are recognized internationally when working on accessible web content, which includes accessible documents. The most recent version of the document is 2.1 and the industry-standard aims for an AA level. Talk to your client and try to figure out if they are already acquainted with the standards or if more guidance will be needed.

Alternative Text

Most documents include images and graphics. How do we communicate the content of an image to someone that is blind or has a visual impairment? This is where the alternative text comes to the aid.

Alternative text, also known as alt text, aims to describe images to readers who are unable to see them. This includes screen readers that read the content on the screen to the user. When clients send a document for translations that must comply with accessibility guidelines, the file rarely includes the alternative text of the images and graphics included. This content should be translated as well since it will be read through a screen reader and must match the target language.

The ideal process is to create the alternative text in the document’s original language and then translate that text. There are several things to consider when creating alternative text, but that is not the subject of this article. To learn more about an alternative text, check the article How To: Write Good Alt Text written by the director of the Supercool Design blog.

Design for Accessibility Compliance

Another aspect to take into consideration when working on accessible documents is the design and format. The WCAG does describe that all accessible documents should comply with several guidelines, which could be resumed to a single word: readability.

Here is a list of must-do’s when reviewing the design of a document:

  • Fonts should be easy to read and have enough leading and kerning.
  • The size of the body text should be between 12 pts and 14 pts.
  • Elements that use color should have appropriate contrast. The ratio of the color contrast should be 4.5:1 according to the WCAG 2.1 Level AA guidelines.

Always make sure to check the document with the above elements in mind and inform the client if any modification to the design of the file may be necessary.

There is no denying that accessibility is more important as technology progresses and more information is stored digitally. At the same time, translation services are required just as often. Merging the two is part of the accessibility efforts around the world to create a more inclusive environment with well-informed people. To learn more about accessibility, explore the W3C’s page on accessibility standards. And if you want to learn how to manage any type of translation project, you can check the TCLoc curriculum where you can learn more about project management and localization.

Localization and SEO for newbies

By now, you should know that according to the Globalization and Localization Association (GALA), localization is the process of adapting a product or service to a specific locale. Some of the things to consider when localizing a product to a particular market are language, culture, tradition, religion, and legal requirements.

Meanwhile, Google defines SEO as the practice of including content on your site that has the potential to improve your site’s visibility to search engines and their users. So how and when do these two come together? That is where ISEO – or international SEO – comes into place. In fact, ISEO stands for applying the principles of SEO and many others to localized websites.

What is ISEO or international SEO?

In the Profile of an SEO Expert TCLoc blog post from 2017, Chris RaulfSEO expert and TCLoc instructor – explains: “[…] If you don’t optimize your content for searches, it’s just a billboard for informational purposes. It’s so applicable to [language service providers], but not many people get it. They could start to offer ISEO as a service, which would set them apart from other service providers and generate more business.”

As Mr. Raulf mentions, SEO plays a significant role in a business’s success. A better position in the search results not only positively influences a company’s sales but also increases brand awareness. Therefore, optimizing your SEO for other countries and languages only make sense if you are introducing your product – or service – to a new international market, which is exactly what ISEO is for.

ISEO and web localization go together

When you’re building your ISEO strategy, website localization is extremely valuable, since customers will stay longer on a site that caters to them. The overall goal is to offer your customer a more native user experience and to make it easier for them to find and remember you.

Some of the many aspects to take into account when localizing a site are units of measurement, local currency, payment methods available, and date and time formats. You can find more details on the ways your website can be localized here: The 5 Levels of Website Localization

To learn more about the technical aspect of these processes coming together, please check this post: Website Localization Best Practices: Go International!

SEO and localization are actually quite connected after all, right? Check the rest of the TCLoc Master’s Degree Curriculum here.

An estimated 3.24 billion people worldwide played video games in 2021, an increase from 2.5 billion in 2020. This number is only expected to rise in the future. With 1.5 billion of these gamers residing in Asia alone, 715 million in Europe, 420 million in Latin America and 284 million in North America, it is important to envision your video game audience in a global context . 

With that said, it has become increasingly important for game developers and publishers to ensure their products are properly localized. But what exactly does that mean? What sets video game localization apart from other forms of localization? What are the specific features of this sub-field ?

Game Localization Is About Interactive Experience

Beyond the basic questions that need to be asked before localizing any product , video game localization requires precise considerations for  its medium. These are complex, even for the most advanced tools used in other localization fields.. It is essential to consider that video games are an interactive and  artistic form of entertainment that incorporates not only text but also visuals, sound effects, music and often voice acting. These all need to be adapted for distribution in different countries. Since this is a complicated project with many elements, here are some key items to consider when approaching this task :

  • How will players react and what changes are needed to ensure a true to spirit experience across all cultures?
  • What cultural norms and differences need to be taken into account? This is a very broad category that covers things like: 
  • appearance and dress of characters and game environments 
  • social relationships
  • religions and their representations
  • perception of violence
  • “coarse” or “vulgar” language
  • sex and sexuality
  • gender roles and identity
  • social taboos 

Of course, not all of these elements need to be adjusted for each game.

  • What idioms, visual codes and symbols or folklore need to be adjusted to the target culture, and to what degree?
  • What elements of the original game may have unintended meanings or interpretations in the target culture?
  • What cultural sensitivities of the target culture need to be taken into account?

The overall goal is to successfully translate the game experience into another culture. The level of localization depends on the studio’s budget, the access to localization resources, the target cultures, the game’s needs related to those cultures, etc. Still, you need to make sure that your game is not only playable, but also understandable, no matter where it is being released.

Video Game Localization Training

If you are interested in video game localization, and localization in general, the TCLoc Master’s Degree program offers a broad range of courses that will help you improve your skills in the field.

On February 24th, 2022, Russian military forces began their invasion into Ukraine, sparking one of the biggest conflicts of the 21st century. Over the months of fighting, Europe has witnessed violence on a scale unseen since almost a century ago. These scenes are reminiscent of the Second World War– and yet, the war in Ukraine is still unlike any other observed throughout history, where the tides are gradually being turned with the help of one small, tireless group: Ukrainian translators. 

Ukrainian Translators 

Since the start of the conflict, soldiers and civilians alike have regularly posted on social media to showcase the reality on the ground. There is dialogue in these accounts– often in the form of videos–, varying from the defiant declarations of servicemembers to the pained pleas of families who have lost everything. Ukrainian translators are working ceaselessly to ensure that not only are these voices heard, but they are also understood in every community. Through their efforts, the world has heard and continues to hear the powerful voices of this war’s victims. 

In this conflict, translators help bridge the gap for foreigners on an unprecedented scale, transforming indiscernible words into unsuppressable messages that can reach the world. 

Social Media: A New War-time Presence 

Ukraine’s translation efforts are not restricted to professionals. Both literary Ukrainian translators and everyday bilingual citizens have started a communication movement where their translations can shape public opinion. Sometimes their work involves translating poems or essays, and other times it entails translating wartime videos. Because of these heightened efforts on social media, a massive conflict is on real-time display to the world for the first time in history. In part due to this movement, the international reaction has been overwhelmingly sympathetic and supportive of the Ukrainians. 

Knowledgeable bystanders watch this war everyday through social media and feel compelled to do their part. By virtue of the internet, they are given a unique opportunity to communicate with those affected and offer valuable expertise. The Ukrainians seek to translate this too. Suddenly, translators are not only broadcasting information to the world, but they are also receiving and repackaging information to diffuse into their communities, such as foreign military guidance on how to defeat armored equipment or how to provide life-saving treatment to the wounded. 

Since the beginning, Ukrainian translators have facilitated an effective communication loop that only magnifies the global movement in favor of Ukraine, where information translated outwards only equates to increasing magnitudes of support sent inwards. This support has taken the form of life-saving tactics offered by the online community or even significant military aid. Ukrainian translators are using their talents to turn the tide of war, while making history in the meanwhile. 

From the Battlefield to the Medical Field 

In neighboring countries, Ukrainian translators are also desperately needed to sustain the medical field. Not only are they vital to helping refugees communicate with health care providers, but they are also essential for protecting the future of medical research. 

As explained on BIG Language’s blog, Ukraine has historically acted as a key location for clinical trials. Since the beginning of the war, medical projects in the country have been halted and forced to relocate. In some instances, trials have to be canceled altogether due to the inability to track test patients as they escape the fighting. 

To prevent the loss of promising medicinal developments, neighboring European countries have begun to adopt and resume the Ukrainians’ efforts. However, this endeavor still requires Ukrainian translators. Without them, foreign companies cannot reach and effectively communicate with the trial’s original test patients. Patient consent forms, information sheets, and surveys must all be translated as foreign companies facilitate the future of Ukrainian medical research. 

Final Thoughts 

The creation of the internet and social media has connected the world, but ultimately, translators bridge the spaces between communities by removing language barriers. For every crisis in the future, there will be a need for translators, as well as the same innovative communication efforts seen in Ukraine.

Because of Ukrainian translators, the public sees the war differently. The conflict is brought closer to the hearts of those who would otherwise not understand it. There are war-planes clashing overhead and tank husks scattered in the streets of Ukraine. The world hears and understands the voices of those that endure that violence– because of Ukrainian translators. 

The war in Ukraine has become a conflict defined by communication, where technical communicators and translators impact the fight just as well as any weapon. As more Ukrainian literature and online accounts are translated to the public, the world will only amplify their support. Translators continue to shape the narrative of history by utilizing their power to uplift voices. The war in Ukraine is forever different because of it. 

University of Strasbourg: Master TCLoc 

Translation work is but one discipline within the study of technical communication. If you are interested in learning more about this field, check out TCLoc’s online master’s degree program accessible to students around the world. From here, you can dive deeper into our comprehensive curriculum and join the field of other technical communication professionals who are changing the world everyday.

Game localization is a multi-step process which involves much more than just translating a game’s textual content. In this article, we will focus on one of the final steps of the localization process: Localization Quality Assurance (LQA), which involves a team of native speakers reviewing the game to ensure that it is suitable for the local market.

Are you a game developer who just released the most amazing game and want it translated into every language possible? Great! Keep in mind, however, that you can’t simply translate your content and be done with it. Video game localization is a complex process that requires multiple steps and Localization Quality Assurance (LQA) is a crucial part of it. 

Why and When Does Quality Assurance Take Place?

Game Localization Quality Assurance is the testing phase of the video game localization process. It involves reviewers, who are usually native speakers of the target language and knowledgeable about video game translation, play a game to find any linguistic and visual errors. It is important that these reviewers have a perfect grasp of the target language as well as a deep understanding of its culture, so that they can not only identify grammar or spelling mistakes, but also provide insights into cultural references that could be added to or adapted in the script.  

Localization Quality Assurance is one of the final stages of the localization process. It is usually followed by a concluding update based on the Quality Assurance (QA) results before final delivery to the client. It is the last opportunity to confirm that there are no strings left untranslated, that the terminology is consistent, and that bugs have been eliminated. You don’t want to take this step lightly!

Linguistic, Visual, and Functional: The Holy Trinity of Localization Quality Assurance

Game Localization Quality Assurance includes three types of quality control. Let’s start with the most obvious one.

  • Linguistic QA ensures that:
    • grammar, punctuation, and spelling mistakes have all been corrected
    • all dates/currency/other numerical data have been correctly localized if needed
    • terminology is consistent
    • no culturally offensive expressions or words have been used
    • the text (and voice-over, if present) feels natural to a native speaking player

However, localization is about much more than just text. This is when the visual aspect comes in.

  • Visual QA confirms that:
    • User Experience (UX)/User Interface (UI) issues have all been fixed
    • incomplete and overlong text has been corrected
    • every string has been properly translated
    • the correct fonts have been used
    • the game’s visuals work on all intended devices

And, finally, since we are talking about a game, the final aspect relates to everything that allows the game to run smoothly.

  • Functional QA ensures that:
    • keyboard commands have been mapped to international keyboards
    • all links have been tested to confirm they work
    • the game code is compatible with every localized version of the game
    • any corrupted audio, incorrect text displays or graphic issues have been fixed
    • performance issues have been eliminated

Once this has all been done, the localization manager can take measures to implement all the necessary updates and submit the final product

Who Carries Out Quality Assurance For Video Games?

QA is a service that may need to be outsourced because not every game studio has a dedicated quality control team. As previously established, this step should be carried out by native speakers qualified to review video games. Again, not every company has these resources in-house.

One option is to hire a translation company for the entire localization process, which includes the testing phase. Even if you complete localization in-house, consider asking a third-party provider to carry out Localization Quality Assurance as it’s always worth having a fresh outlook on the translation. Remember that QA involves much more than just proofreading the text in the game: it also covers quality control of the visual and functional aspects of the game. Conflating these three elements in a single quality control process will actually save you time and money.

Is It Mandatory?

Not necessarily… but it is a process that every reputable game studio would go through. Not only is it cost- and time-efficient, but it also helps maintain a studio’s reputation. 

Many games have failed in international markets because they were rushed and released without suitable quality control. If your game has spelling mistakes, mistranslated or misplaced text, and too many bugs, it will reflect badly on your company. It will be apparent that you did not take the time and effort to deliver a high-quality product to your customers.

In 2018, Aksys Games localized Collar x Malice: Unlimited, a Japanese game. A heavily text-based game, it became infamous for the bad quality of its English translation. Fans subsequently submitted a spreadsheet listing all the errors and bugs to the company. Some went as far as to boycott Aksys because they felt disrespected. The error, however, did not lie solely with the translation, but also with the QA. Grammatical mistakes, typos, random numbers in the middle of sentences, and formatting errors such as text displayed outside of the text box greatly impact players’ experience of the game. As a result, Aksys Games received negative press for the release.

Screenshot of the game Collar x Malice: Unlimited by Aksys Games which showcases the grammatical and formatting errors in the English localization
Screenshot of the game Collar x Malice: Unlimited by Aksys Games which showcases the grammatical and formatting errors in the English localization

Conclusion

If you want your game to have a successful release in international markets, don’t skip the QA phase. Overlooked linguistic, visual, and functional errors can seriously compromise the player experience. Editing and proofreading textual content is not enough if you want to deliver a high-quality localized product. Hiring a third-party provider to carry out the Game Localization Quality Assurance process can help ensure that every localized version of your game runs smoothly and delivers the best experience to your customers. 

If you enjoyed this article, head over to the TCLoc blog where you can find out more about current issues in localization and translation.

Using Portuguese Translation to Crack the Portuguese-Language Video Games Market

Portuguese is one of the world’s most spoken languages, so investing in a Portuguese translation of your video game is a must. Countries like Brazil and Portugal offer plentiful opportunities when it comes to video games sales. In this article, we take a closer look at the Portuguese-speaking video games market, why Portuguese translation is important, and some potential pitfalls to watch out for.

How Big is the Portuguese-Language Video Games Market?

Brazil is the most populous Portuguese-speaking country, and its sheer size reflects in its video games industry – it ranks among the largest video games markets in the world. What’s more, Brazilian Portuguese is the fifth most used language on Steam. This is despite a fall in the number of video games localized into Portuguese since 2019. This is a limitation for gamers in the country and presents a potential opportunity for video game producers willing to invest in Portuguese translation.

Brazilian Portuguese Translation of Super Mario 3D World. Source: EA/ Maxis/ the author

Portugal is also a significant market and has the added advantage that is part of the EU. The following infographic shows some key figures for the two largest Portuguese-speaking markets for video games.

Source: produced by the author

Angola is another important market. It’s the second-largest Portuguese-speaking country in the world. And it’s one of the fastest-growing economies in Africa. Still, the video game industry is nascent in the country. Some parts of the country are still struggling to find stable internet access. But it’s a country to watch, since changes are coming at a rapid pace. 

How Does Translating a Video Game into Portuguese Affect Sales?

Portuguese translation has a big impact on sales numbers. Globally, Animal Crossing: New Horizons was the top selling video game during the first half of 2020. But in Brazil, it was The Last of Us: Part 2, followed by Pro Evolution Soccer 2020 and FIFA 2020. No sign of Animal Crossing. One fact the winners share is that they were all localized into Portuguese. A similar story played out in Portugal, where FIFA 2020 was the top seller. This shows exactly what impact Portuguese translation has. Gamers from both countries would rather spend money on a game with a Portuguese translation than one in English or Spanish.

The data is clear on this: companies that embrace Portuguese have greater penetration in the Portuguese-speaking market. 

Brazilian Portuguese or European Portuguese?

Based on all of the economic data, it’s obvious why most companies decide on a Brazilian Portuguese translation. As an example, Electronic Arts localize their FIFA games into both variants. Yet, for their second-largest franchise, The Sims, Brazilian Portuguese is the only variant available. 

Still, working in the Portuguese video market is interesting. The smaller scale makes response times faster. While Brazil is famous for having one of the best localization, translation, and dubbing companies in the world, Portugal is still exploring this market. And they are eager to work hard to catch up. So you can still find companies providing an excellent product at a very competitive price — companies wishing to begin exploring the Portuguese-speaking market can find this interesting.

European Portuguese Translation of Super Mario 3D World. Source: Nintendo /  the author

Is a Neutral Portuguese Translation an Option?

For those wondering if there’s a “neutral Portuguese”, the answer is no. If we take only the three main variants of Portuguese into account (those of Brazil, Portugal and Angola), there’s little hope of a middle ground. Let’s look at a few words in each of the three biggest variants:

But the differences don’t stop at vocabulary. There are also differences when it comes to:

  • Grammar: To name just one example, Brazilian uses a construction with the gerund to indicate the present continuous tense, while the Portuguese variant uses the infinitive.
  • Pronouns: Brazilian Portuguese tends to use “você” as the singular second-person pronoun, while European Portuguese uses “tu”.
  • Spelling: For example, BP “fato”, EP “facto”.
  • Slang: Each of the main varieties has its own slang, so an informal sentence in BP might be almost unintelligible to a EP speaker.
Brazilian Portuguese Translation of Stardew Valley. Source: ConcernedApe / the author

Conclusion

Investing in a Portuguese translation of your video game can bring huge benefits by unlocking a massive new market – after all, Portuguese is the world’s 6 most spoken language by number of native speakers. But deciding to localize your video game into Portuguese is only the first step in a lengthy process, with plenty of pitfalls along the way if you don’t know what you’re doing. Working with product owners and language specialists that have a high degree of knowledge is very important. If you’d like to improve your translation and localization knowledge and hear more about topics related to video game localization, check out more of our articles on the TCLoc blog.

When localizing content, it’s important to really connect with your target audience. One way of doing that is to speak to them in their own language. So if your target audience are English speakers, you localize into English and that’s that, right? Well, English is a global language spanning many different cultures, so you’ll want to get a bit more specific than that if you want your content to get results.

In this article, we focus on the two most spoken varieties, UK English and US English. However, many of the same principles apply wherever your potential consumers are in the English-speaking world, whether that’s Ireland, Nigeria, India or New Zealand.

UK English vs US English: Why You Need to Choose One

Failing to localize your content into the right variety of English can come across as lazy and make readers feel like you haven’t done your homework. This means they are less likely to trust you, which is not good when you’re trying to sell. It can also be downright confusing – imagine you’re a clothing brand and you’re writing a blog post about pants. In North America, they’ll assume you’re talking about slacks/trousers, while Brits will think you’re selling underwear.

It is also bad for SEO: if you’re a US company selling sneakers and you want to reach consumers in the UK, then optimizing for keywords based on the word “sneakers” isn’t going to get you anywhere – British consumers are going to be searching for “trainers” instead, so they won’t find you.

A possible exception is where your “American-ness” or “British-ness” is a big part of your brand’s identity. Without getting too stereotypical, a US company selling cowboy boots or a UK company selling tea may want to continue to use American/British words and phrases to ensure authenticity. However, that doesn’t mean you can forget about localization basics such as choosing the right keywords and ensuring you offer payment and delivery methods that work for your potential consumers.

It’s Not Just About Words – Cultural Aspects Are Important Too

So you’ve changed “elevator” to “lift” and run a find and replace to change all of your -izes to -ises. Now it’s just a case of sitting back, relaxing, and waiting for the hordes of British consumers to descend waving fistfuls of cash.

The truth is, vocabulary and spelling are only part of the equation. You’ll also want to think about the tone of your copy. For example, British consumers can be more reluctant to spend so need more persuading, while American consumers are more comfortable parting with their money, so you can be more salesy. Choosing the wrong approach can mean that a UK consumer won’t feel reassured enough to make a purchase. Or that a potential US buyer won’t feel as if you’ve sold the product to them enough, leading to missed sales.

Check your Calendar

Then there are events. Say you sell gifts and want to publish a blog post to boost sales in time for Mother’s Day – do you publish it in March (Ireland and the UK) or May (North America, Australia and New Zealand)? Or you want to post on social media to wish your followers a happy Thanksgiving – do you do it in October (Canada) or November (the US)? Seasonality is important to take into consideration too – a summer-inspired campaign in July might get you great results in the Northern Hemisphere, but will surely flounder in Australia or New Zealand, where it will be the middle of winter.

Don’t Forget Numbers

It may seem obvious, but it’s important not to forget that different English-speaking countries have different currencies and use different units of measurement. Americans prefer imperial (Fahrenheit for temperatures, inches for measurements) while Brits tend to prefer metric (Celsius for temperatures, centimeters for measurements) – although when localizing for a UK audience, it’s best to get input from a local, as Brits tend to mix and match depending on what they’re measuring – a bit of a minefield!

Luckily, international standards mean this is less of an issue with things like technical documentation. But when it comes to something like a recipe or clothing sizes, you really need to localize your content, or it simply won’t be understood.

Tips for Making Sure Your Content is Well Localized

  • Make sure you’re using the correct spelling and vocabulary for your target audience. If you’re localizing between US and UK English, this cheat sheet on spelling differences and this list of vocabulary differences will help you get started. 
  • Check out in-country competitors to get a better idea of your target audience’s preferences. Industry magazines and trade fair websites in your chosen country are worth scouting out too.
  • Ask a local to read your copy and flag anything that may not resonate with the target audience. If relevant, get them to try making a purchase to iron out any niggles with delivery and payment options.
  • If you’re localizing from another language into English, steer well clear of machine translation tools like DeepL or Google Translate. This is good advice in general, but it’s especially true when you need to be location-specific – automatic tools don’t have the cultural knowledge that human translators do.

Conclusion and Next Steps

Long story short: the variety of English you choose depends on the variety that your target audience is familiar with. So if you want to sell to American consumers, you use US English, and if you want to sell to British consumers, you use UK English. And you need to do it well, or you risk losing your customers’ trust.

Now that you’ve learned how crucial it is to choose the right variety of English when localizing your content, are you keen to learn more about the challenges involved in localization? And gain two qualifications in the process? Check out TCLoc – a flexible online master’s degree that you can do from anywhere in the world.

A subject matter expert is an essential resource for anyone wishing to translate specialized content. Even seasoned translators can find themselves in situations where the source text is too complex. No matter how much time they have spent studying the subject in depth, some words or phrases may still be ambiguous. This is especially the case for highly specialized translations, such as technical translations.

The Advantages of Collaborating with a Subject Matter Expert

When it comes to translating a technical text, the source text is often translated for a specialist audience. If the translator has less technical knowledge than the intended reader, the latter may experience some confusion. To avoid this, a subject matter expert can facilitate the translation by helping the non-specialist translator to avoid errors.

First, the expert is able to provide precise and technical vocabulary. As obvious as it may sound, using correct and appropriate terminology markedly increases the quality of the translation, which is something the target audience appreciates.

Beyond that, most subject areas each have their own particular signs, nomenclatures, symbols, and abbreviations that are essential for providing precise explanations. A misunderstanding of these conventions can cause misinterpretations: this is a translator’s worst nightmare. The subject matter expert can ensure the correct use of these symbols or abbreviations. Likewise, specific concepts should be translated by using their correct technical names, rather than by lengthy descriptions. This allows the translator to avoid having to paraphrase, which might strike readers as unprofessional. 

Another important aspect lies in the economics of translation projects. Getting a subject matter expert involved saves a lot of time and therefore money. Their knowledge can help the translator cut out hours of research and shortens delivery times, which is sure to be appreciated by everyone involved.

Another facet of this is that the subject matter expert can support the translation project by providing quick clarifications to both members of the team and clients. The team can avoid unnecessary back-and-forth, which is an additional stressor and a waste of valuable time. Subject matter experts can also settle any questions clients may have.

Last but not least, the subject matter expert can get involved in testing the translated content and can help with the final formatting.

What Types of Content are Involved?

As a translator, you quickly realize that technical translations are needed in a very wide range of applications. It’s not just user manuals that require technical expertise.

Many institutions use subject matter experts because they cannot afford even the slightest ambiguity in their translations. This is the case, for example, for the medical field, in particular the pharmaceutical world, where correct translations are crucial.

The construction field also has its share of highly technical vocabulary, as do fields like education and IT. These sectors often need to publish their content in several languages. An additional challenge for translators is continuous innovation, as not only do they need to know specialized terminology, they also need to keep up with new technologies and related developments. 

There is yet another area where involvement of a subject matter expert is essential, namely the area of ​​legal translation. Here the responsibilities are also very important, just like the volume of texts and the quantity of technical terms.

What are the Risks of Bad Translations?

Besides simple confusion, an incorrect translation can lead to serious risks in various fields. A sophisticated technology requires a precise technical translation adapted to the complexity of the subject. A subject matter expert brings their know-how to help the translator avoid finding themselves in one of the following situations:

  • In marketing, the material can lose its appeal and influence. It may fail to connect with – or worse, possibly even offend or annoy – the new target audience.
  • In the medical field, a patient can receive the wrong treatment, which can have potentially life-threatening consequences. 
  • Applications for patents or subsidies may fail, causing great losses to companies.
  • In the legal field, a bad translation can mean a lost court case.
  • In the industrial sector, poor communication can have serious consequences. Not only can it result in missed deadlines, it can also affect manufacturing, assembly, and handling. Misunderstanding a translation can also cause accidents. 

As you can see, expertise is of utmost importance in technical translation.

Successful Collaboration between Translators and Subject Matter Experts

Ensuring a successful collaboration between translator and subject matter expert is crucial. Indeed, if the collaboration is not effective, the delivered product can be sloppy. Here are some tips for both sides to help teamwork go smoothly.

Translators must be professional and prepared. This involves punctuality, flexibility, diplomacy and above all familiarization with the subject. The translator must make an effort to understand the subject and attempt to gather as much information about it as possible. Relevant questions for the subject matter expert should be prepared in advance.

For subject matter experts, it is important to give translators time and bear in mind that their task is difficult. What counts is not just the quality of the information, but also the manner in which it is provided: complex information must be communicated in an understandable and structured way.

Conclusion

The relationship between the translator and the subject matter expert is fundamental for a successful translation. We have seen the risks involved, the benefits of a good collaboration, and the importance of what each side brings to the equation. Now it’s up to you to ask yourself: is my approach as a writer, translator, or subject matter expert optimized?
If you want to deepen your knowledge in the field of technical writing and start a career, check out the TCLoc Master’s program to find out more about our online master’s degree.

Localization plays an important role in global business and it has become an essential strategy for organizations that wish to go beyond their national borders. The localization process varies depending on the product or application that is being localized: from dubbing a movie to adapting food flavors for different markets – but have you ever wondered what the video game localization process is like? 

Unlike other applications, video games can be very complex and realistic, to the point that players immerse themselves completely in the story and its virtual world. To sustain a high-quality immersive experience, games must be adapted to the player’s preferences while preserving the appeal of the original version. A poor localization would be a nuisance for the players and negatively affect the game’s sales performance.

Video games are complex products and their localization of a video game is an equally complex process which must take into account multiple aspects. Translating content is only one piece of the puzzle. Cultural sensitivities or legal regulations might require parts of the game to be changed or altogether eliminated, whereas technical specifications might require developers to remap the game onto a different platform. Therefore, in order to ensure the successful international distribution of your video game, here are a few aspects that should be taken into consideration.

Choosing Your Target Audience

The first step of the video game localization process is researching the markets you wish to enter. It is important to understand the game culture and preferred genres in the target markets to be able to decide whether to localize or not. According to a study by Nimdzi (2020), most American players prefer action games, whereas in Japan dating simulators and robot-themed games are first choices, and Polish players prefer puzzle games. Factors like cultural norms, censorship and legal regulations could have a huge impact on the game’s reception. Additionally, it never hurts to keep an eye on competitors and see how successful their game was in the different target markets. 

Choosing the Right Game Platforms

Not all markets support the same platforms. We can play “Candy Crush Saga” on Facebook in France, but not in China, where a better option would be WeChat. PC and console platforms are popular in Europe and North America, while most Asian gamers play on their smartphones. Thus, planning for and choosing the appropriate game platform is an essential part of the localization process. Furthermore, keep in mind that not all players have the latest and most powerful devices. A game should not be too heavy and still run on older hardware.

Image of a couple playing a video game

Choosing the Right Content to Localize

When a new video game is released, it usually happens simultaneously in all target languages. This frequently leads to short deadlines for the game localizers, and possibly to translation mistakes. To avoid this, publishers are expected to plan for localization in the early development stages and to provide guidance and support throughout the video game localization process. Another thing to consider is how much game content is to be localized. One of the most popular Chinese games, “Honor of Kings”, was fully localized for the Western market by removing many cultural references, changing its name to “Arena of Valor” and adopting a completely different interface. While the original version is more cartoonish, the localized version is darker and more realistic. In other cases, it is necessary to change or recreate the content altogether — this process is known as transcreation. For instance, quiz games contain different questions depending on the country they are sold in. 

Localizing for Success

Game localization is a challenging, but exciting process that encourages thinking outside of the box. At the same time, the video game localization process is an integral aspect of the development of a successful business strategy. With the right mindset and careful planning, localization will continue to drive growth in the gaming industry. 

Do you want to learn more about localization? Check out the TCLoc Masters’ Degree Program at the University of Strasbourg.