No matter if you are a small business or a multinational corporation, it is hard for you to ignore the Chinese-speaking market nowadays. Almost 20% of the world’s population speak Chinese. And China has become the world’s second largest economy since 2017. With no doubt, you need your website to be localized into Chinese. It will definitely expand your presence in the market and eventually boost your revenue.

How to get a successful Chinese localization of your website? You may have some idea, or you may have no clue. Anyway, here are 5 golden tips we gathered to help you out!

Where Is Your Audience?

As you may know, people in Spain do not speak the same Spanish as people in Latin America. With Chinese, it is similar. Not all the 1.5 billion Chinese-speaking people speak the same Chinese. You have to specify what your target market is. Where is the audience of your website? Are they in China, if yes, which China? People’s Republic of China, or Republic of China, which you may know better as “Taiwan”. Or maybe you are targeting the market in Hong Kong specifically. Or you run your business in the United States only, and you would like to increase your market share in the Chinese-speaking population in the United States.

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自動產生的描述

Traditional vs. Simplified Chinese

This may seem confusing, but if you answered the previous question, the answer would be simple. The government of the People’s Republic of China created and promoted Simplified Chinese in the 1950s to increase the literacy rate of the people. So, if you are going to the market of China, you need to localize your website into Simplified Chinese. However, if you are going to Taiwan, you need to use Traditional Chinese. Though the government of Taiwan has never promoted Simplified Chinese, it is interesting that the literacy rate of Taiwan is higher than China. For Hong Kong and Macau, which have become the Special Administrative Regions (SAR) of China since 1997 and 1999, Traditional Chinese is still officially used. For overseas Chinese in other countries, they may use Traditional or Simplified Chinese based on where they originally came from. Our suggestion is always to start with Traditional Chinese, and if you have more budget, then go for Simplified Chinese.

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自動產生的描述

Chinese Localization Is Not Just Translation Into Chinese

Translation is the process of converting an original source language into another different target language. Localization is way more than that. It is a process of adapting a translation not only in language, but also to a specific country or region. Meeting both cultural and functional expectations is even more crucial in Chinese localization. You have to be aware that some political issues are very sensitive in Chinese society and some cultural boundaries should not be crossed. Other than that, make sure to convert the currencies, measurements, date and time formats, and telephone numbers to what is used in that country or region. Furthermore, update your social media icons. Use Wechat and Weibo if you are entering China, since Twitter, Facebook, Instagram, and Youtube are all blocked there. Also update your payment methods – Alipay and WeChat Pay are dominating in China. Almost no one uses Paypal and people do not feel comfortable making online payments by credit card.

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自動產生的描述

Who Should Do Your Chinese Localization?

After you have learned all of the above, you may feel it is more complicated than you originally thought. It is not just simply translating all the content on your website from English into Chinese. Now you should not believe that the nice Chinese guy in your office would be the best person to do this for you. So, find a professional translator, use a language service company, or maybe there is even a better option? If you are a small business with a tight budget, either finding a professional translator or using a language service company would be the most cost and time efficient way. However, if you are really looking to increase the website’s sales revenue and would like to invest into it, a bicultural marketing company would be the best option. They not only know the language better, but also the culture and the market. Again, Chinese is very unique, and you need to take good care of it.

Don’t Forget Search Engine Optimization (SEO)!

Save the best for the last. After you have all your website localized into Chinese, do not forget Search Engine Optimization (SEO). SEO is not the cherry on the cake. It is an essential ingredient in your every business recipe. Of course, you don’t want to miss it in your Chinese localization. With SEO, you want to work with experts who have experience and track successful records. With SEO in Chinese, this is even more important, especially if you are targeting China. Google is blocked in China. Baidu commands more than 80% of the market share in China. If you want to reach people in China, you’re going to need to implement an SEO strategy that involves ranking for that search engine. Try to search online to find someone who is experienced in SEO in China. If you found them through a search engine, they should not be too bad at SEO.

In the world of languages and translation studies, one profession is often looked down on. Indeed, few students truly understand the roles of a localization project manager, and quite often the profession isn’t made attractive by the courses offered in most language degrees.

Let’s see how this can actually be an exciting career for you, and share a few project management tips for those who are considering entering the industry as a localization project manager.

What to do after a language degree?

New language graduates often doubt about what to do next and how to use the knowledge acquired during their studies.

Even though most project managers do not have a language background in the first place, it is a career particularly suitable for any graduate in this field.

What’s more, profiles with a translation background tend to be more appreciated by LSPs; a good understanding of the industry, as well as knowledge of the related tools and processes that your translators are using, is essential. It helps build successful relationships with your vendors, as well as provide thorough quality assurance – and these two tasks are crucial aspects of the profession.

Why is localization project management an exciting career?

Contrary to popular belief, working as a PM is not just about sending emails.

In an LSP, every day is different. You deal with various clients, vendors and types of requests, and even though it can be stressful at times, it is also a job where you will never be bored.

The multiple roles of a localization project manager

Working as a LPM also allows you to experience various roles, e.g. getting involved in:

  • Research: new technologies such as Neural Machine Translation (NMT), CAT tools and automation processes are key in the industry so keeping up to date is an important aspect of the job.
  • Business development: when it comes to meeting and counselling new and existing clients and helping to better sell your services.
  • Negotiation: such as discussing rates with clients and vendors.
  • Orchestration: when setting up a workflow, you’ll be dealing with all the project’s stakeholders, ranging from clients to translators, voice talents, typesetters and more.
  • Data analysis: you’ll receive feedback from clients and try to identify what made a project successful or unsuccessful, the latter being a good occasion to learn from your mistakes and get better at your job.

Project management tips and resources

As well as experience, becoming a good PM requires learning project management good practices, but bear in mind that no one is perfect.

Negative feedback from clients does happen, as in every profession, and it is important not to be afraid of it.

In fact, it is a great way to refine your processes and to learn new project management tips. Also, learning how to sort out your priorities when dealing with many tasks at the same time is crucial.

Being a PM can be a stressful job at times, and failing to identify what is both important and urgent can put you under a lot of pressure.

No one is born a localization project manager

The good news is that localization is a friendly industry where a lot of help is provided and project management tips are globally shared.

You can find plenty of specialized resources, especially from leading localization associations such as GALA (which the University of Strasbourg recently joined) and ELIA, which holds the annual “Focus PM” event and published a series of handbooks for smart PMs. These handbooks contain many useful project management tips, and are among the best resources in the industry.

If you wish to learn more about project management in the TCLoc Master’s Degree, you can download our brochure

Good project management requires a manager to scrutinize teamwork. However, when they interfere too much, managers can jeopardize a team’s autonomy and productivity.

Spotting a Micromanager

When a project manager engages in excessive scrutiny regarding how the team carries out tasks, they are micromanaging. A micromanager closely controls the work of their employees. Rather than focusing on larger concerns, they will spend most of their time giving specific instructions on smaller tasks at every step of the project. This is also noticeable in the manager’s way of handling communications and work progress. Because they feel the need to be on top of everything, all communications must go through them. Sometimes, micromanagers will even jump in to complete tasks themselves, thinking they can do it faster.

Addressing micromanagement can be challenging whether you are an employee experiencing it or a project manager who finds they have adopted this style. Nevertheless, it is possible. An essential step to doing so is understanding the causes behind micromanagement. There are numerous reasons why a manager might resort to intensive oversight and control. While some relate to the manager’s past, others revolve around increased performance pressure:

  • they feel unsure and self-doubting due to a recently attained position
  • they fear underperforming and being fired
  • a supervisor above exerts pressure on them
  • due to experiences in their childhood, they developed a tendency to control everything.

No matter their micromanaging reasons, team leaders need to acknowledge the detrimental effects this style can have on a team’s productivity.

Sabotaging Trust and Teamwork

When a manager is breathing over employees’ shoulders and constantly checking on them, this results in considerable stress, frustration, and demotivation. This also leads to a perceived lack of trust: employees feel that they are not given enough autonomy or space to show they’re worth their salt. As such, they are more likely to perform with the lowest dedication and work in fear. Fear, frustration, depression, accidents, lack of productivity: micromanagement can cost a company its best and brightest minds, eventually causing them to leave.

Furthermore, micromanaging is not a scalable tactic. As long as the manager leads a relatively small team, they can repeatedly check their employees’ work. When the team expands, the micromanager cannot do so without risking burnout. With more employees, a micromanager will soon find themselves checking on too many people while allocating too little time to do their actual job: managing the project and the team. Not to mention that such behavior reduces the employee’s ability to work in autonomy as they are constantly guided by their manager.

How to Stop Micromanaging

Micromanagers rarely view themselves as such and tend to describe their style as “structured”, “organized”, or “perfectionistic”. A first step to escaping from micromanagement is acknowledging it and being willing to adjust one’s leadership style. Additionally, as explored earlier, this style of project management damages the employees’ trust towards their manager. Managers can follow various approaches to re-build this trust and reinforce team building:

  • encourage initiatives and autonomy among team members
  • clearly communicate what the expected goals are
  • delegate and trust your team while being attentive to their needs through regular (not constant) check-ins
  • openly share feedback regarding what employees could do to improve.

On the organizational level, a manager can replace micromanagement with a more efficient way of tracking objectives and their outcomes: Objectives and Key Results (OKR). Instead of micromanaging, the team leader can set, every quarter, some key objectives that are actionable, quantifiable, and have a deadline. Doing so will articulate teamwork around the key objectives and how to reach them. As far as the project manager is concerned, they can keep abreast of the work progress by holding regular meetings where every team member can present their progress. Those meetings can offer room for giving feedback on the OKRs and provide useful guidance.

What if Your Project Manager Is a Micromanager?

Being in such a position is all but easy. It is not always possible to bring the transformation you expect, but it is worth trying. Your first move should be to understand why your manager is interested in the task or project. Let’s face it, a micromanager, to some extent, is a person who is excessively interested in how tasks are done. This can be turned into an advantage if the motives of the manager are understood. Is it that they want the project to succeed so badly because they’re passionate about their job? Is it that they are afraid of losing it?

Figuring this out can help the employee develop a different work style that creates more autonomy and, at the same time, secures the manager’s goals. After figuring this out, share your concern with the manager cautiously. As mentioned earlier, micromanagers are generally unaware of the toxicity of their management. Consequently, denial may be their first reaction if this issue is not approached with tact. Therefore, when attempting to call your manager’s attention regarding the situation, make sure to choose an environment that’s not stressful; ideally, an informal occasion. Stress that you understand how much the project or work means to them. Starting with this, your manager is likely to be more attentive. Then, describe clearly what you can do to increase your leader’s confidence in you while improving your own performance. It is essential to demonstrate how providing you with more autonomy will translate into more productivity for your manager.

Conclusion

A toxic work environment leads to poor performance and lack of teamwork.  Certainly, micromanagement can radically damage the work environment and develop an atmosphere of stress, fear, and frustration. Moreover, it erodes employee’s confidence and prevents the manager from leveraging their team’s full potential. In the long term, this project management style can cause your team’s burnout and chase away your valuable team members.  Given the issues it may cause, micromanagement should be tackled and project management best practices should be implemented. It needs to be addressed with tact if you are an employee experiencing it. With honesty, if you happen to be a project manager who has been practicing it.

Have you ever experienced micromanagement? Write your experience below in the comments and share this article so it can help others!

You want to bring your software to other markets and you know you will be localizing it. You have researched localization online and found many useful tips that you intend to implement in your localization process. In addition, you are aware of internationalization concepts such as Unicode, text expansion, and separating strings from source code. So you should now possess the knowledge to tackle localizing your software with the resources you have at your disposal, right? Besides the many localization best practices that you may already know, you should also keep in mind the following mistakes or DON’Ts when starting to localize your software in order to avoid problems and dead-end situations later.

Don’t improvise as you go along.

The more things you standardize or agree upon before starting, the smoother the localization process will be. A big issue here is terminology. Try your best to standardize the way you call things in your program. This is not only for the benefit of users in the original language of your software, but it will also make translation easier. It is also advantageous to agree on the terminology in other languages, i.e. create glossaries. This may seem like a big up-front investment, but it will save you a lot of time down the road, as there will be fewer interventions during the localization process about undefined terminology, which will also improve the overall consistency of the translation.

Also, try to standardize the formats in which you have translatable documents and try to keep their number down. You may have some strings in XML, some in a database, and some in your own internal format. Standard formats have the benefit that they can be read and edited with a variety of tools. Even transitioning from one standard format to another sometime in the future might not be as difficult, because converters will likely exist. Try to replace at least the internal format with a standard one. Whoever will be processing those strings will thank you.

Don’t make your own tools.

You might be tempted to develop your own tools that can handle the formats you use, including the internal format. As Henk Boxma writes in his article about software translation costs, making your own localization tools might end up costing you more than a dedicated localization tool. It may also prevent you from reaping the full benefit of computer-assisted translation (CAT) tools and make any outsourcing of translation more difficult.

CAT tools are dedicated tools that have been developed over the years. They are designed to handle a large variety of formats and contain features which facilitate a more streamlined translation process that can also deliver higher quality with built-in quality assurance tools.

lines of XML code that will be localized with a CAT tool software

Unless you are willing and able to dedicate development resources to your in-house tools in the long-term, those tools probably won’t have features comparable to CAT tools. Instead of creating a tool that allows you to translate any internal formats, spend those resources on developing a conversion utility that converts internal formats to standard formats, such as XML.

Don’t do everything on your own.

You might have a person available in the company who is a native speaker of the language into which you are going to translate your product. It may seem like a good idea to use that person’s knowledge of the product, despite them having no background in translation. Doing the localization in-house could also keep the costs down.

But will that person have enough time to do their own work and localization? Even if localizing your product seems like a one-off project, also keep in mind that somebody will have to maintain other languages once you update your product and correct any mistakes that might slip through the first time.

A localization professional will be able to help you avoid many potential pitfalls that you might run into months or even years down the line if you do it all with existing, non-specialist resources. In the end, fixing such issues could cost you more time and money than getting expert help.

Do you agree with this choice of DON’Ts? Can you think of any other bad practices we have missed? Don’t hesitate to share your thoughts in the comment section below.

As you might know, Netflix has become one of the largest online streaming services. Their product is available in over 190 countries and currently supports 26 languages. Netflix is still fine-tuning its multilingual localization processes to ensure that all its content is universally accessible.

How does a streaming organization as large as Netflix handle localization across the world?

What Is Localization and Why Is It Important For Netflix?

The Art of Adapting to Cultural Zones and Values

Localization (L10N) is a key phase within the process that you cannot ignore when expanding services into the global market. It is about adapting a product from a specific region or country. Basically, it refers to translating multimedia content such as software, video games, websites, as well as audio and video.

When localizing, you should take into consideration cultural differences and diverging values. It can indeed become a significant challenge when you have to repeat this process for five or more languages. Netflix changes the catalog choices depending on the region. You do not find the same content if your IP address is in France, India, or South Korea.

However, localizing is much more complex than just adapting a movie and show selection. When localizing a user interface, you have to think about readjusting several technical aspects which differ from country to country.

Localizing Netflix’s User Interface

Pseudo-localization is an important phase within the localization process because it specifies technical definitions regarding aspects of text adaptation to a target language. It actually becomes a prerequisite when you have to translate from a Western language to an Asian one for example, e.g. from English to Chinese or Japanese.

But what is exactly pseudo-localization?

In their Netflix Tech Blog, Netflix published an article about the technical issues they regularly face when updating or adapting new content on their multilingual user interface.

Here is a list of multiple parameters Netflix’s pseudo-localization team have to take into account:

  • Left to right/right to left script.
  • Vertically or horizontally presented texts.
  • Length constraints/limited number of characters. Sometimes, a translation from one language to another ends up being too long for User Interface elements such as buttons, titles, or descriptions. Therefore, the text would not fit into the space provided in the interface.
  • Appearance: Character sizes, formats, fonts… Without pseudo-localization, it could lead to cultural or technical inconsistencies.

To summarize, pseudo-localization can be defined as the phase in which one adapts and edits every piece of text of a user interface to a target language.

Who Handles the Localization on Netflix?

One Project to Manage, Several Tasks to Divide

Each person who takes part in this process has a specific role. There are several ways to split the tasks of a multilingual localization project. With so much content, you may ask yourself how Netflix handles the work of translating all of this efficiently.

Netflix outsources translations. All of these tasks are usually executed by several Directors of Localization, Localization Project Managers, and Language Managers. They are the link between Netflix and external localization vendors or freelance translators working for the streaming services company.

Project Hermes: An Internal Localization Team at Netflix

In 2017, Netflix launched a global campaign to hire the best translators to increase the quality of their subtitles, the Hermes Portal. This campaign encompassed a global language, translation and technical test accessible worldwide for anyone who had access to Netflix. However, given that Netflix is more specialized in technology development and project management than in localization, the project turned out to be too costly and ambitious. The company had to cancel it and leave this process to their external localization vendors.

All in all, Netflix handles the management as well as the technical aspects of a localization project (pseudo-localization, content workflows) while external partners deliver localized contents such as translated subtitles and dubbing. When content does not belong to the company, Netflix has to buy the publishing rights from other companies and does not necessarily have permission to edit subtitles.

Even for Netflix, Multilingual Localization Is Challenging

In the online streaming industry, managing a multilingual localization project is a challenge because they have to tackle every aspect of the translation process. Languages and technologies have been evolving at a fast pace in recent times and with innovation, organizations have found ways to manage it.

Although Netflix had considered having its own in-house localization team, it decided against it and continued with outsourcing to external translation teams around the world. This illustrates that even a company with the reputation of Netflix is still learning and developing strategies to manage localization projects.

We could have also taken the examples of other streaming services such as Amazon Prime Video, YouTube Premium, or the more recent Disney+, as each of those companies are facing similar challenges and are actively researching for creative solutions to improve the quality of the contents they are sharing with their subscribers.

Sharing your thoughts about Netflix’s localization management may bring some new and interesting insights on this topic. Either way, feel free to comment here!

According to the MESA Europe Content Localization Council in 2017, the size of the audiovisual translation market suggests that content localization services are worth about 2 billion USD per year and are expected to grow by 8% to 10% annually. The Slator 2018 Media Localization Report paints a similar picture, yet subtitle translation software has not grown to match this assertion. Is it because traditional TM (translation memory) technology has nothing to offer and can’t support this specialized localization process?

The Audiovisual Translation Process

A typical methodology in multimedia translation involves four main steps: spotting, translation, simulation, and adaptation.

Professional audiovisual translators are often responsible for all four of these steps. As TM technology has not provided an optimal environment for any part of this process, translators have simply been using subtitle editing software instead. But now, thanks to the solutions provided by the SDL Community Developers team, translators can use their preferred translation environment for more of the audiovisual translation process. This includes leveraging translation memories, managing terminology, and performing quality assurance checks.

Subtitle Solutions for TM Technology

Audiovisual Context

The first problem with TM technology is that it typically did not provide proper context when translating videos. A noteworthy solution to this challenge is the Studio Subtitling plugin, which supports audiovisual playback that works synchronously with the translation editor. It provides additional data in real time, such as the number of characters per line and reading speed, and is available when translating, editing, or proofing subtitle translation.

File Type Support

The second problem is that the audiovisual translation industry works with a very limited set of file types (considering the hundreds that are available through subtitling software tools like Subtitle Edit). The lack of support for subtitle file formats makes it harder for TM technology to be used properly. Indeed, in order to use it, these files must often be converted into either SRT — one of the few supported formats in translation tools — or Microsoft Word. Fortunately, new file type plugins have been developed for STL (Spruce), webVTT and SBV (youtube) — with plugins for ASS, TTML and DFXP due shortly, all in addition to SRT which is already available. This innovation ensures that SDL Trados Studio already supports more subtitle file formats than any other TM technology.

Time-Code Editing

TM technology typically works on the basis that the source files are sacrosanct and, therefore, should not be changed. However, a subtitled sentence often takes two, three, or even four screens to be completed, and its translation won’t necessarily be shown in the same order or have the same length as the original. So, the translator needs to be able to merge or split subtitles for them to make sense. This requires a change to the structure of the time-codes in the source file, and, until now, no TM technology has supported this to any extent. The Studio Subtitle plugin and associated file types solve this problem by ensuring that the timecodes are updated in the target file when the translator merges segments.

Translation Quality Assessment

Finally, the fourth problem relates to TQA (Translation Quality Assessment). Many models in the translation industry can be used in support of TQA, but none of them are suitable for checking the quality of subtitling. In fact, there is a general lack of an agreed model to support TQA for intralingual subtitling, and there are very few TM solutions that can support a TQA process at all.

This problem has been solved by building a TQA solution around the FAR model proposed by Professor Jan Pedersen of Stockholm University that supports assessment in three areas:

  • Functional equivalence — do the subtitles convey speaker meaning? 
  • Acceptability — do the subtitles sound correct and natural in the target language?
  • Readability — can the subtitles be read in a fluent and non-intrusive way?

This is only possible because SDL Trados Studio supports the use of a TQA model for review and because it is freely available as an optional TQA profile on the SDL AppStore.

Supporting Audiovisual Translation

The SDL AppStore is a first in the industry and remains the only way for developers to create solutions of their own using the open APIs that are made available through the SDL Language Platform. The Community Developers team has provided support for a subtitle translation software solution and made it available so that any user of SDL Trados Studio can download and install it for free.

If you work in the audiovisual translation field and lack the tools to help you leverage your translation resources, then give these solutions a try. The evolving nature of this subtitle translation software means it can continue to adapt and improve to always meet your needs!

If you have questions about SDL Trados’ subtitle translation software, don’t hesitate to reach out so you can find a suitable technology plan that caters to your needs. If you prefer working alongside your peers, you can also ask any questions you like in the community forum where a dedicated place is set up for discussions about subtitle translation software.

Do you work in the audiovisual translation field? What software and solutions have you found to support your translation process? Have you ever tried any of SDL Trados’ plugins? Let us know in the comments below! Curious about our other articles on translation? Check them out on the TCLoc master’s blog!

There are certain challenges that you’ll likely face during your localization career. In this article, we give you the keys to overcoming these challenges and making your localization project successful. So, if you are interested in localization project management or another position in the localization field, keep reading! 

Upstream preparation: provide product knowledge!

If you have ever worked as a translator, you probably know that it is extremely difficult to provide good quality translations without context. Product development and product localization are handled by different teams who often work for different companies. Without proper preparation and communication, this can lead to challenges in the localization process. For example, how can translators get the necessary context and product information to produce an accurate and suitable translation?

First, during the preparation of the product, developers should provide explanations for any text that will be displayed. These explanations inform translators about the purpose and the meaning of the text. Developers should also provide information on character limits, which is essential in order to adapt text to user interfaces as well as to other content types. A button displayed on a mobile interface, for instance, might have a very short character limit. If this isn’t communicated to the translators, it can result in truncation and spending extra time and money on correcting it. Supplying translators with all the information they need greatly minimizes the risk of potential errors.

Project preparation is also an important stage that should not be overlooked. During this stage, the localization project manager should create a localization kit that includes:

  • the content to be translated in an appropriate format
  • a glossary for each target language with specific terms and their definitions. If no glossary is provided, it must be created. 
  • translation memories (files containing similar past translations that can be used as reference for current translations and save translators a considerable amount of time)
  • a style guide that explains, for example, the tone that should be used, the parts of text that should not be translated, or the audience that the text is intended for. This ensures that the text’s style will be consistent, even if many translators are working on it
  • reference materials, such as screenshots and demo versions, which give translators context and a deeper understanding of the product 

The job of a localization project manager is to make sure that the product and project preparations have been done correctly. One of the keys to a project’s success is facilitating communication and information sharing between the teams involved. Another important aspect to consider is staying within budget and time limitations.

CAT Tools: deal with tight deadlines and a limited budget 

Respecting deadlines while meeting the budget can be a really tough job. You are often going to work with clients who are on a very tight schedule for their product launches. A good localization project manager knows that organization is key in these cases, and always uses the best-performing tools. When used the right way, CAT tools can help save a considerable amount of time and money.

For example, if there are existing translation memories, CAT tools can automatically translate parts of the text, which saves a lot of time since the previously translated text is recycled and translators won’t have to translate everything from scratch. It also helps reduce costs as translators are paid by the word and the sentences that have already been translated in previous projects are paid at a lower rate. The similarity (called translation memory matches) varies between 50% and 100% and these words are only paid a percentage of the full word rate. The grid feature of certain CAT tools can help localization managers estimate discounted rates to make sure the project stays within the budget.

The success of localization project management

Productivity and turnaround of localization projects depend on the project manager being aware of these and other challenges as well as possible solutions. CAT tools can enhance profitability if they are used correctly in the project. There are plenty of other tools that can also be used in this field, such as localization project management tools, terminology management tools, and translation memory management tools. We highly recommended taking advantage of these to ensure the success of your localization projects.

What tools do you recommend? Do you have other tips to add? Let us know in the comments!

Also, interested in localization courses? Have a look at the TCLoc master’s program

Nowadays, computer-aided translation tools (CAT) have become an absolute necessity for professionals working in the translation and localization industry. How are CAT tools different from machine translation, and how do they work? 

What’s the difference between machine translation and computer-aided translation?

Machine translation is generated by software and based on a dictionary, to which users can contribute. The most common tool is one we’ve all used at least once: Google Translate. Machine translation can be useful if you want to understand only the general meaning of a text.

Computer-aided translation (CAT) is, on the other hand, a powerful tool for professional translators. It allows them to reuse the translations they have already made by storing them in a specific database. CAT tools thus make translations more coherent and can help match their style to a specific company’s needs. CAT software allows translators to save money and time, while improving the quality of the translation. The most common CAT softwares are SDL Trados, OmegaT, MemoQ, and DejaVu.

How do computer-aided translation tools work?

Computer-aided translation tools are operating platforms that gather applications for managing multilingual materials. They display the source and target texts side-by-side and divide the source text into segments which correspond to sentences. This allows translators to work more comfortably, focusing on the translation and typography. The target text will automatically adapt to the source text format.

The previously-made translations are added to multilingual and interactive dictionaries and saved into integrated databases. Then, the translator checks if the translation suggested by the software matches the source segment, makes adjustments if necessary, and validates the translated segment. 

Pros and cons of computer-aided translation

Computer aided translation tools guarantee the consistency of the terminology throughout the text, (especially when similar sentences or terms appear multiple times) and help avoid mistakes. Pre-translated grammatical and spelling suggestions help reduce the time needed to type the text. CAT tools are particularly relevant when it comes to technical documents, such as user manuals, contracts, and financial documents, as they usually contain a lot of repetition.

However, CAT tools are ineffective in translating literary texts because they can not process the different meanings and nuances hiding behind each word or sentence, nor provide the necessary variation of vocabulary. Moreover, translating cultural references, puns, and humor is a creative task, and machines can’t handle that yet. These types of texts require a human translator who has an extensive knowledge of the target culture.

CAT tools thus enhance translation quality and help human translators save time on each project, allowing them to meet deadlines more easily. Given the fact that their turnaround times are getting shorter and shorter, it’s important that they focus on translation quality, rather than checking format and spelling mistakes. 

Will CAT tools be able to replace human translators in the future?

The short answer is, probably not. First and foremost, CAT tools were created to improve translators’ workflow. CAT tools may be very helpful, but they still require a human translator to check the translation’s accuracy.

With CAT tools increasing productivity, freelance translators now have to cope with the fall of per-project and per-word rates. While per-word rates are declining, productivity is increasing. But it doesn’t mean translators are working less. In fact, CAT tools help them go through larger volumes of text more quickly. On average, a translator using a computer-aided translation tool can translate up to 4,000 words a day, that is to say, double the amount of words they used to do without CAT tools. Nowadays, CAT tools are used by all the main language service providers and freelance translators in order to improve their translation quality and productivity. 

If you want to learn more about computer-aided translation, check out our interview with Gaëtan Chrétiennot, language professional and CAT tool expert.

Going global means facing the challenges of internationalization and localization. To ensure success in foreign markets, a good quality strategy should be set in place right from the beginning. A testing plan can help to set a clear objective and evaluate deadlines for completion. Let’s have a look at the most important testing procedures.

Pre-localization Testing: Internationalization (i18n)

Software products are often created with the source language in mind. This leads to problems when adapting the product to the target market and also has an important cost impact. Software i18n comes in during product development, so that the software is ready for translation and localization. Engineers can define what code or design changes are needed and then elaborate a project plan. It allows a cost-efficient and highly-qualitative localization strategy. Some key points are listed below:

  • All files, strings, and pages support the texts and character strings (by using unicode)
  • Target text appears as expected (for instance, the text case is respected)
  • The graphic user interface is adapted
  • Multilingual databases are enabled

In addition to these technical adaptations, it is strongly recommended to define a glossary with the most important terms, as well as a style guide for the following translation work. 

Translation: Localization (l10n) Testing

The second stage is called Localization testing. It allows to verify the quality of a localized software for a target culture. Only the localized version of the product is proofed, as the focus is mostly on the translated content and the user interface (UI). Localization testers check, for instance, if the localized content is linguistically correct, accurate, and fits in the context. Then, translators not only translate the content, they also localize it. They update the translation memories and edit the texts when needed. Next, developers follow a testing plan. They conduct tests after having created and designed them or they use specific tools or automation testing services. This stage is about:

  • Assessing the translation quality—the terminology, the style guide, consistency, spelling, grammar and linguistic mistakes
  • Testing the functionality of the product in its standard environment
  • Conducting tests as defined in the testing plan 
  • Using testing tools

Post-localization Testing: Quality Assurance (QA)

The quality assurance team corrects bugs and errors that appeared earlier during the translation and localization process. QA testers determine if the product conforms to the company’s quality standards and verify the accuracy of the content in context. They are responsible for the suitability of the localized product for the target market. What should happen in this final QA stage?

  • Proofreading by an independent native speaker to validate the translation content
  • Providing QA checks
  • Building reports
  • Implementing an efficient QA strategy

When a company chooses to invest in a localization strategy, efforts will be rewarded by increased sales in the target markets and satisfied customers. 

Do you want to learn more about localization and content strategy? The Master in Technical Communication and Localization (TCLoc) is a year-long, distance-learning career-oriented program specially designed for professionals.

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Created in the early 1990s for software development, the agile approach can design, shape, and manage an entire IT project. Unlike traditional methods that are considered too inflexible, slow, or easily outdated, agile development places the customer at the centre of a project in order to adapt quickly to changes. Agile development methods, such as Scrum and Extreme Programming, reduce change costs by implementing principles, reference values, and validations, which lowers post-project costs.

Today, agile development has extended beyond the boundaries of IT projects and has found a prominent place in the corporate world, particularly in marketing. The process is based on communication that combines customer collaboration, transparency, and knowledge sharing. Linked to the world of digital and agile development, agile marketing offers an instant deployment of actions with a logic of tests and analysis of results at low cost. It is thus opposed to traditional marketing which, once planned, cannot be modified (audio-visual campaigns, print, etc.).

Agile development and translation

Agile development provides proactive and innovative actions in order to precisely meet the expectations and needs of a target audience. Applied to translation, it allows for greater and more flexible performance, producing evolving content that can be analysed in real time. The limitations of older and slower alternatives disappear, which results in better organized translations and immediate performance. Thanks to its project management system based on lean methods such as Kanban, agile translation also encourages teamwork between translators, editors, and proofreaders.

Ideal for limited and recurring needs, agile translation can be used for marketing, advertising, or technical documents. Despite a limited number of words per project (up to 5000 words), agile translation offers aerated and adaptable content in no time and at a low cost. Combined with intelligent technologies, and with customers as the main source of inspiration, agile development thus appears as THE innovative solution to remain the market leader.

Golden rules to achieve agile translation

Translation is usually planned at one of the last stages of the project. This leads to situations where a lot of work has to be redone as translators do not always have the whole context, which results in lengthy and costly repeated iterations. An agile process minimizes the effort, avoiding constant round-trips between stakeholders trying to fix misunderstandings. So what are the agile guidelines used in translation? 

  • Value communication: The customers should be involved in all stages of the project in order to provide valuable insights that help achieve the final result faster.
  • Less for you, more for them: Do more for the customer than for your own comfort. Avoid creating internal documents to organize the process and use that time to translate. It’s the only way to be able to deliver quickly.
  • Maximize automation: Automation equals efficiency, which reduces the end-customer costs. At first glance, this may seem counter-intuitive, as the agile approach values interaction between individuals. However, as humans do what they do best–communicating, computers should take care of the common tasks that are repeatable and time-consuming. CAT tools like SDL Trados or OmegaT can make your life easier. 

Thank you for reading, we hope you found this article insightful.

Want to learn more or apply to the TCLoc Master’s Program?

Click HERE to visit the homepage.

Thanks from the TCLoc web team.