SOLUTION BRIEF    Global Content Development Services    Why and How to Write for LocalizationWhy would a writer or a tech...
SOLUTION BRIEFRE-USE (AKA LEVERAGE)                                          lesser rate, because it simply needs to be re...
SOLUTION BRIEF++   Not Optimal: You can change the Admin.tpl and the           Use Verbs as Verbs and Nouns as Nouns     A...
SOLUTION BRIEF++   Better:                                                    in the white space at the end of a chapter)....
SOLUTION BRIEFexample, scenarios involving dog spas or varieties of         and then less (or no) localization is required...
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Global Content Development Services: Why and How to Write for Localization


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Global Content Development Services: Why and How to Write for Localization

  1. 1. SOLUTION BRIEF Global Content Development Services Why and How to Write for LocalizationWhy would a writer or a technical publications CL tools because they feel, well, controlled by it; evendepartment be interested in a method of writing though technical content is not creative in nature, writingsource content specifically for localization? Is the is always and ever a creative process.effort required of the writers really justified by the A writer can easily learn to write optimally for localization.savings seen in translation fees? Let’s take a look at a few key concepts.Global companies often need to translate their materialinto a number of languages, and cumbersome, ambiguous USE CORRECT AND APPROVEDor inconsistent source content make that very time TERMINOLOGYconsuming and costly. Also, mistakes can be replicated – Define, translate, and use the appropriate,or worse, amplified – in the language versions, which can product-specific terminologyhurt user perception of the product or cause mistakes on Translators should use bilingual glossaries that containthe job. Often writers write without future translation in terms and phrases found in the product. Using correctmind, and the translations suffer for it. What can writers and consistent terminology saves translation timedo while writing source content to make localization easier, because the terms are identified, defined, and alreadyless time-consuming and less costly? translated. A glossary greatly improves consistency especially when multiple translators are working on theHOW IT WORKS same project. Also, some tools can help automaticallyEspecially when a company is localizing into multiple plug these terms into a translation.languages it’s very important for the English source Use only one term to name one conceptmaterial to be highly translatable. Simple mistakes, Synonyms are not encouraged within the best practicesambiguity, or inappropriate use of terminology may surface of writing for translation. Using the word ‘tab’ for fiveas queries or errors in translation, requiring revision in all different concepts, for example, obligates the translatorthe language versions of the same product. Clear, concise, to choose the correct translation in any given context,and grammatically correct source material cuts costs, which may result in an error. Better that there be only onereduces time, and improves quality. choice.Furthermore, writing for localization improves the The solution for this example is to use:readability and usability for native and non-native speakersof the source material. It is not boring or dumbed-down ++ ‘tab’ for dialog boxes onlysource, but it is controlled and regulated source material. ++ the entire term (tab stop, tab character, and so on) inMost often, applying the rules of writing for localization is the other casesa manual process. Writers are trained in the methodology ++ use an alternative verb to describe movement of theand provided checklists so they can implement the best insertion point using the Tab keypractices involved. A similar problem involves using several terms to expressControlled Language (CL) tools exist that automatically the same concept. For example, the words ‘create’,restrict grammar, terminology and syntax. However, many ‘add’, and ‘insert’ are often used for the same action.companies may not wish to invest in this technology. Choose one term – and the most common meaning forAlso, writers often resist using Controlled Language and that term – for each concept, and use it consistently.© 2012 Lionbridge
  2. 2. SOLUTION BRIEFRE-USE (AKA LEVERAGE) lesser rate, because it simply needs to be reviewed byPerhaps the most profound way to save costs in the linguist to ensure tense, structure, and meaning arelocalization is through re-use of source text that has appropriate for the new translation.already been translated. Translation is charged by volume Avoid Compound, Complex Sentencesof words, so reducing the new word count is a guaranteed A complex sentence requires that the translator firstway to save money. A re-used word or phrase is a 100% understand the content, then choose the main clausematch when using translation memory tools, and is (which the translation should begin with), and thencharged at a much lesser rate, because it simply needs to translate it. Put the main idea first and break complex orbe reviewed by the linguist to ensure tense, structure, and lengthy material into smaller sentences. Use formattingmeaning are appropriate for the new translation. (bullets, tables, etc.) to help clarify very complex concepts.How do you re-use source content? One way is to startfrom an existing document, and update only the parts ++ Not Optimal. Directory synchronization uses thethat need updating. A translation memory tool will be able Dispatch program to run the programs that transferto separate the changes from what you left alone. Don’t the local address updates from the requestors to thestart from scratch unless the content really is all new. directory server and to transfer the global address updates back to the requestors for processing.A content management system (CMS) – expensive, time- ++ Better. The Dispatch program is used for directoryconsuming and perhaps not feasible for all companies synchronization. It runs the programs that transferto implement – can enable a writer to select chunks both the local address updates from the requestors toof existing content for use in a new document. These the directory server and the global address updatessystems can tag sections that have changed and only back to the requestors for processing.provide that material to the translation company. However,a writer can do much the same thing by searching for The same is true for phrases. For example, ‘at this point inlegacy source content that is relevant, and manually time’ can and should be replaced with ‘now’.copying leverageable content into their new document. FOLLOW STANDARD ENGLISHLastly, do not change content that has been previouslytranslated, even formatting, unless it’s actually incorrect. WORD ORDEREven small changes can blow leverage, since TMs handle Choose the word that will create the leastleverage in segments (not at the word level). ambiguity Generally, this is subject-verb-object, with modifiers beforeUSE CONSISTENT WORDING or immediately following what they modify.Use both words and phrases consistently,with no variation ++ Standard word order: Your primary concern may be to update the database.Don’t mix it up. The following examples show a lack ofconsistency; choose a corporate or department style, and ++ Inverted word order: To update the database may bestick with it. your primary concern.++ The following prompt will appear AVOID AMBIGUITY++ You will be prompted with Don’t sacrifice clarity for brevity In English, clarifying words are sometimes omitted, most++ This prompt appears often with prepositions and gerunds (‘ing’ format of a verb used as a noun). Because gerunds are not found inConsistently phrasing the same ideas in the same way most languages, they represent a special challenge for thewill create internal leverage, which in turn generates translator; do not omit the accompanying words that area repetition when a translation memory is used. Just essential to the a 100% match, a repetition is charged at a much© 2012 Lionbridge
  3. 3. SOLUTION BRIEF++ Not Optimal: You can change the Admin.tpl and the Use Verbs as Verbs and Nouns as Nouns Admin.inf files using the Template utility. Unlike many other languages, many English words can be++ Better: You can change the Admin.tpl and the used as both nouns and verbs, and nouns can be turned Admin.inf files that are using the Template utility. into verbs and vice versa. To avoid confusion or ambiguity, use standard and consistent terminology for computer++ Better: You can change the Admin.tpl and the actions. Try to find unambiguous synonyms for other Admin.inf files by using the Template utility. words.A NOTE ON VERBS ++ Problematic: If you made edits to your document ...Avoid verbs with two or more words ... information that you want to referenceWhenever possible, replace two or three-word verbs suchas’ look at’ or ‘carry on’ or ‘put up with’ with a one-word ++ Better: If you edited your document ... ... information that you want to refer toverb such as ‘examine’ or ‘continue’ or ‘withstand’.Use the simplest verb forms USE PUNCTUATION CORRECTLY ANDIf possible, avoid the emphatic and progressive English PUNCTUATE AGGRESSIVELYtenses. Instead of ‘we will be arriving’ use ‘we will arrive’. Use commas to set off introductory phrases and clauses.(Some forms of controlled English severely restrict theuse of words ending in “ing” because of the problems ++ Optimal: To manage your files, click the Start buttonassociated with this verb form.) ... Using Control Panel, you can change the way Windows looks and works.Use indicative mood and active voiceThe indicative mood is the most common verb form, usedto express facts and opinions or to make inquiries. Most AVOID COMPLEX AND FIGURATIVEof the statements you make or you read will be in the LANGUAGEindicative mood. The highlighted verbs in the following Idiomatic or Colloquial Expressionssentences are all in the indicative mood: Idioms and colloquial expressions are usually untranslatable. Many have no counterparts in other++ The IT technician fixes the laptop. languages, or their use is not appropriate for the intended++ Next, the user opens the application. audience. Often, translators will substitute a more businesslike phrase for an idiomatic expression or leaveThe subjunctive verb form is complex and more difficult to the expression out altogether. In any case, the translatorunderstand and translate. will have to take time to understand the meaning, and may get it wrong. That said, figurative language has no place++ Subjunctive: It is urgent that the user read this in technical documentation. However, marketing materials manual. and other online and/or print advertising materials may++ Better: The user should read this manual before require using creative language to get the right meaning proceeding. across. Professional marketing translators can transcreate (adapt) this content, finding appropriate figurative languagePassive voice makes the agent (actor) unclear; it’s better equivalents in the target always use active voice that clearly marks the agent. ++ Problematic:++ Passive: This manual should be read before Now how’s that for instant design! proceeding. That figure is in the ballpark. That’s all there is to it.++ Better: The user should read this manual before proceeding.© 2012 Lionbridge
  4. 4. SOLUTION BRIEF++ Better: in the white space at the end of a chapter). Short text Now you have an instant design. pieces, such as callouts in graphics, headers or footers, That figure is within our price range. can expand much more drastically and require a total These simple steps complete the task. reworking of the layout to accommodate the expansion.Wordiness and Jargon Consider expansion when planning manual size andSuccinct sentences are the easiest to translate. Jargon structure as well as when writing. For instance, if theand wordiness blur the meaning and are hard to convert margin contains too much text, the translated elementinto another language. Also, because translators are paid may extend beyond the body text it relates to. Calloutsby the word, wordiness is costly. should not contain entire procedures because their translated counterparts often look cluttered and++ Concise: You’ve concluded Mini-Lesson 4 and unprofessional. In these cases, reorganize or rewrite to learned to use the drawing tools and text editing keep margin text or callouts short. buttons. You can continue now, or leave the tutorial and return to Mini-Lesson 5 later. For more Documentation templates should be designed with text information, see “Saving and Quitting.” expansion in mind.++ Wordy: Now is probably a good time to save your BE AWARE OF ISSUES THAT CAN presentation again. If you want to take a break before the next mini-lesson, go ahead and exit PowerPoint. OCCUR WITH COLOR Refer to the steps noted earlier in this chapter if you Beware that color may have specific connotations in your need more information. target culture. Some cultures interpret color in a specific way when in a certain context. For example: white on itsSPELL OUT ACRONYMS own is nothing special to us, but red/white/blue togetherSpell out all acronyms the first time you use them, and to Americans expresses a powerful patriotic sentiment.make sure the translated equivalent ‘works’ in that culture. Also white doves or white roses have specific meaning toFor example: us. See below the various connotations of red.++ SIDA, displayed in many airports, means ‘Security ++ Thailand - the most popular color Identification Display Area’. In Spanish ‘sida’ is the ++ China - prosperity, rebirth acronym for AIDS. ++ Malaysia - valor and might(There is a good argument for spelling out an acronym ++ US - power, dangereach time you use it. Consider that a reader never reads ++ India - procreation, lifethe whole manual, and so could miss the initial explanation ++ African countries - blasphemy, deathof the term?) Do your research before you launch a website, forLastly, acronyms should be part of a corporate glossary / example, that is primarily one color.terminology list. Otherwise, translation productivity will belost in trying to figure out what it means. BE VERY CAREFUL WITH EXAMPLESCONSIDER TEXT EXPANSION AND SCENARIOSText expands in length during translation by 10 or 15 Unless examples, scenarios, and images are plannedpercent; in some languages, localized text can be as with cultural diversity in mind, they must be created frommuch as 30–35 percent longer than the source text. These scratch for localized product versions. The goal for aexpansion estimates hold true for normal text paragraphs, content development team is often to use interestingwhere expansion can usually be accommodated (for yet internationally accessible scenarios. Inappropriateexample, in the last short line of each paragraph, or scenarios require re-creating art and rewriting text. For© 2012 Lionbridge
  5. 5. SOLUTION BRIEFexample, scenarios involving dog spas or varieties of and then less (or no) localization is required, due to themaid/assistant services are problematic because these decrease in word consumer goods are unknown in many countries. IN SUMMARYEven if a chosen scenario works for different cultures, These best practices will get you started in writing contenthowever, research is often necessary to use it. Although that is more concise, clear, and therefore easier to localize.mountain climbing or hiking may be an internationally The additional benefit you get is that your content will beaccessible subject, some research may be required for easier for native and non-native speakers of English tothe translator to do his/her job. What makes climbing an understand as well.acceptable subject is that relatively little research (say,buying a magazine on the subject in-country) will give the What you should know:translator the necessary background information to do agood job. ++ Writing with localization in mind can reduce localization costs by 10-15%Your choices are to use examples that are universally ++ The most important principles are re-use andappealing, or ones that are re-created from scratch the consistencyproduct versions that will be sold outside the UnitedStates. Our guidance is to use universally acceptable ++ A glossary is a key tool in writing for localizationexamples, when possible. ++ Writing for localization can improve the English source as wellSYMBOLS, PICTORIAL METAPHORS ++ A company need not implement a tool to improveSome symbols or images pose problems for international materials that will be localizedversions. For example, in localized products for somecountries, product wizards are referred to as assistants,resulting in the loss of the symbolic value and figurativemeaning of the original term ‘wizard’. Because nosemantic equivalent is available (or the translation justdoesn’t ‘work’), then any supporting sorcery-relatedimages, such as magic wand buttons or starry tutorialbackgrounds, would be meaningless.Some symbols common in the United States may not be ABOUT LIONBRIDGErecognized in other countries. A U.S.-style mailbox, for Lionbridge helps companies increase globalinstance, may not mean the same thing in other places. market share, accelerate worldwide product adoption, and broaden online engagement.The bottom line is that some graphics are difficult to With expertise in content, language, andtranslate, and can even be offensive in some cultures. It technology, we support our customers atis commonly known that hands can be offensive, cut off every step of the Global Customer Lifecycle.(truncated) body parts are no good, animals in human Based in Waltham, Mass., Lionbridgeroles, and the soles of the feet are images not well operates across 26 countries and enjoysaccepted in other cultures. thriving, trusted relationships with more than 500 clients.YET, USE GRAPHICS WHEN YOU CAN, To learn more, visitINSTEAD OF TEXT www.lionbridge.comThere are times when a graphic can demonstrate anaction or process much more clearly than a block of text,© 2012 Lionbridge