Introductions – Jon Ashley and Mike Scott from Refinery. How many here consider themselves UCD “purists”? Not sure, but you may be appalled. How many here have been a part of a localization effort in the past? (Caveat… Not a localization expert, this was my first) How many have worked on multi-lingual web sites, or sites in a language other than English? Do you use Morae for test session recording? This discussion will cover basic background on the L10n field, specific research on Japanese culture and language, and present a case study of the localization project.
Many of you probably know of the cultural differences between perceived meaning of colors…
The shorthand “i18n” and “l10n” come from a system admin tradition of shortening names by substituting a letter count for the “middle” characters in the word. Localization Industry Standards Association (LISA)
The affordance of the “Find a Store” button was so strong, I could use the site to find the closest 7-11 to the hotel even though I can’t read Japanese. The form field affordance for the “postal code” fields matched the pattern I had of the hotel location, so using them was the next natural step. The search resulted in a map of the 7-11’s nearest the Imperial Hotel in Tokyo. Walking distance from the canned Oxygen I wanted to buy to combat jet lag.
Localization naturally lends itself to UCD – in fact, it necessitates it. Changing culture – black suit example.
Aaron Marcus actual expanded on the 5 dimensions, offering more detailed considerations (20+)
Each of these components should be considered when localizing a system or interface.
Content strategist poured over volumes of content (much already translated in a way the company desired and approved of) Used a “spider” to download a local static copy of the DB-driven dynamic existing site (and fixed numerous resulting CSS and JS problems)
Without going into a long history of the Japanese language and writing system, I just want to point out that until about the 5 th century CE, Japan had no writing system. Chinese characters were introduced in the 5 th century, at first to write in Chinese (considered the language of the educated, as Latin was in Europe for hundreds of years), and then to write in Japanese. However, diacritical marks were needed to indicate the pronunciation of grammatical features of Japanese, which is much more heavily inflected than Chinese. This led to hiragana. (In fact, one of the first major works in Japanese—perhaps the first novel—was the Tale of Genji, written entirely in hiragana.) Katakana, the more angular syllabary, was at first used as a pronunciation aid in Buddhist scriptures. Now, however, the important thing to remember is that katakana is widely used to adopt foreign words into Japanese, providing a phonetic pronunciation of the word. Finally, Romaji refers to using the Western word as is, in its original alphabet. This is done quite often with English, and road signs in urban areas often use romaji, along with the kanji name of the city, to kill two birds with one stone: (1) it obviously helps foreign tourists, but (2) it also helps the Japanese know how to pronounce the names of certain towns. The Chinese characters used for these names can be hundreds of years old, with no clear connection to current pronunciations.
Bold can make busy/dense characters hard to read – and have a feeling of “ads” trying to sell something anyway
When I was in graduate school, one of the anthropology professors liked to tell a story that went beyond stating that, “You can’t get the whole picture from a culture that’s not your own.” The actual moral of the story? Let’s start first with the story. One of the world’s foremost experts on Native American and Navajo culture, he was attempting to compile a dictionary and grammar of Navajo. Once he was somewhat familiar with the language, he put together words and phrases in various combinations and asked a native speaker, “Can I say this?” To the first phrase, the native speaker said, “Yes.” To the second, he again said, “Yes, you can say that.” After several more phrases, and several more answers of “Yes, you can say that,” the anthropologist asked, “So everything I said is grammatically correct?” The native speaker responded, “No, I said that you could say those things. You’re not a Navajo.”
The native speaker responded, “No, I said that you could say those things. You’re not a Navajo.” The morale of the story? You can get a picture of a language and a culture that’s not your own, but you have to do it in fits and starts, from various angles. You need a way in, even though you are and always will be an outsider. For the Japanese localization of an intranet, that “way in” is the ease with which the Japanese language absorbs and makes its own words from other cultures, from pan (from the Portuguese for bread—not from the French, as many people think), to jeans or g-pan (short for “jeans-pants”) from English.
It’s a little like Humpty Dumpty. To remind you, here’s the exchange that Humpty Dumpty had with Alice: “When I use a word,” Humpty Dumpty said, in a rather scornful tone, “it means just what I choose it to mean, neither more nor less.” “The question is,” said Alice, “whether you can make words mean so many different things.” “The question is,” said Humpty Dumpty, “which is to be master—that’s all.” Why is this analogous to our purposes in Japan? It means that we would have acceptance built in on a couple of levels, not least of which that there would be a certain level of acceptance built in—terms that would be clearly perceived as euphemisms and HR double-speak in the US would be like tofu in Japan: Kind of mushy, malleable and taking on the flavor of whatever (context) surrounded them.
Here are examples of katakana words, the first two of which, career and skill, we knew going in were established katakana words. Career was the easiest, since Japanese has borrowed the word from English. There are words such as shokushu (job) or shokumu (position, duties, responsibilities), but nothing like a career. Skill, on the other hand, is often used as a katakana word, but does always need to be. Japan has words that triangulate on “skill”—including ability ( 能力） , knowledge ( 知識 ) and experience ( 経験 )—but nothing that has precisely the English connotations of “skill,” especially as it is used in the business term “skill set.” That brings us to two words that we felt would be problematic going in. Competency is one of these. This is a word that, even in the US, is perceived as an HR neologism. The intent was to move away from job descriptions toward a broader notion of “skill sets” that would allow employees to move more fluidly between positions. However, there’s no existing word for it in Japanese. Our translation vendor INSISTED—to the point of ignoring our translation rules and the way in which we had written our homepage—that it should be translated by the Japanese term 能力 (nouryoku), which means “ability” or “talent.” However, in the context of this HR initiative, it’s a word best explained in terms of ability or talent, knowledge, skill and experience. And especially in Japan, management felt that employees were too fixated on the narrow responsibilities associated with a particular job—everything is expected to be spelled out very clearly, and each job has pages and pages detailing the work, the environment, the education level expected, the experience level expected, and the specific skills needed. In testing, we found that employees were already familiar with the katakana term “competency,” often defining it in terms of ability, skill and knowledge, so we went with that. Career Ladder is another term to which we devoted a great deal of thought. “Career” is well understood in Japanese, but “career ladder” might not be. We were not at all sure that it would be understood, or how it should be translated. If a Japanese person thinks of his or her career, it wouldn’t likely be a ladder going up, but rather something more akin to a path. In fact, one of the managers in Japan criticized the phrase “career ladder,” stating that, “You can just as easily fall off it as climb up it.” In other words, a ladder could be unstable, with the image of a single person climbing, without the support of colleagues. “ Path” is a word that is common in Japanese, so “career path” was a possibility, but because of Japanese phonetics, “path” and “pass” sound very similar, and not all that dissimilar to “bus.” As with “competency,” we ended up relying on the fact that the word had taken on a meaning within the local corporate culture already and was familiar to many employees.
So what about the title of the site? It would seem that it would be ideal for katakana—and we developed a katakana logo. Here you see: Romaji Kanji (which would translate literally as “Assignment Search”—not what we were looking for, and really weird Japanese) Hiragana (which would make no sense at all—foreign terms simply are not put into hiragana) Katakana Katakana made some sense, and we actually developed a katakana logo and referred to the site name in katakana throughout. However, our employees were familiar with the CareerQuest site from the US, and may actually have been insulted (I can read “CareerQuest”) had we translated it into katakana. And you have to remember that there are no breaks in Japanese, so it’s hard to know how to read this word at first glance. The phonetics allow me to read it as “kya-ri-ak-esu-to” or as something closer to “CareerQuest.”
Here are examples of terms that eventually ended up being translated in kanji, but that we weren’t sure at all were appropriate from the beginning. Promotion Here’s a word that has a perfectly good translation: shoushin (promotion). However, we were told by a number of employees that “shoushin” would be appropriate for discussing promotions in general, but not in the context of one’s own career—and one’s own promotion. They felt that it sounded too “aggressive” or forward to be approaching your boss about a “shoushin.” When asked for an appropriate word or a label for the promotion section of the site, several employees suggested “career-up,” a Japanese-English term formed from “career” and the word “up,” which is added to foreign loan word to give the meaning of “better.” For example, “skill-up,” (improve your skills), “manner-up” (improve your manners), “grade-up” (rise in grade), etc. We brought up the issue with management, and were told that “career-up” is a catchphrase or slogan used by recruiters in Japan, and had the connotation of job-switching or job-hopping. A few trips on the subway confirmed it: We saw transit posters for recruitment agencies encouraging riders to “career-up!” They suggested, and we went with, “shoushin/shoukaku.” “Shoushin” carries the meaning of promotion/rising to the top, while “shoukaku” has the meaning of “advancement” or a rise in status or grade level. For “process,” we used the common katakana term. Dialog Here we thought we might have problems, since we thought we might have to use a foreign loan word, such as “discussion,” to encourage a process of pushing oneself forward and initiating a conversation about advancing one’s own career. In many places, we did use the loan word “discussion” in katakana, but for most purposes, the Japanese term “mendan” (meaning “interview, meeting, conference”) was perfectly fine. Employee Development Process (EDP) Known in the US by its acronym, we at first though that might work in Japanese, since acronyms are readily accepted in Japan, and some are even invented based on English words, and a Japanese person may be surprised to discover you don’t know what they mean. An example is “CM,” which means “television commercial,” or “OL,” which means “office lady.” However, we learned that EDP, to our audience, was the acronym for the FORM they had to fill out as part of this process, so we could not use it for the process itself. We ended up using the kanji above, which translates as “Employee Ability Development Process.” Time in Grade Another term about which we worried—needlessly, it turned out. On the US site, we had no need to convey that promotions were to be given on the basis of seniority alone—this is part of the culture by now. However, the global parent company does use the term “time in grade,” which is the time you spent within a particular grade level (which corresponds to responsibilities and salary). Going into Japan, we felt that claiming that we were overturning “nenkouseido” was a tall order, and we tried to find suitable terms to convey the notion of “time in grade” specifically. We needn’t have worried—”nenkou” (“length of service”) and “nenkouseido” (“seniority system”) worked perfectly well. We simply had to explain that (roughly translated) “Promotions will not be determined on the basis of the seniority system (nenkouseido) alone,” and that “length of service (nenkou) is only one of a number of criteria considered in advancement decisions, although it can be a useful indicator of skills and abilities.”
Finally, three words that turned out to be particularly problematic: Resources and Tools What would you think would be the problem with these words? [PAUSE] What’s the problem in English? THEY DON’T SAY ANYTHING! In Japanese, they say even less. “Resource” and “tool”—even the word “toolkit”—have been adopted, especially in business-speak, as katakana loan words. However, they are not commonly used metaphorically in Japanese. “Resource” would generally be translated as “shigen,” a word that means “natural resources” or “capital.” “Tool” is commonly used to refer to the things that carpenters and plumbers use. “Resource,” “tool” and “toolkit” may be familiar to certain employees, but would have no meaning at all to the most people. For that reason, we avoided these words, and we asked that the translation vendor avoid using them. Instead, we looked at the types of “tools and resources” deeper pages contained. If it was forms and links, we said so: “Forms and links for employees” or “Forms and links for managers.” Unfortunately, the title of the one of the major sections of the site is “Career Tools and Resources,” encompassing training courses, a skill assessment page and a competency assessment form, and an “Additional Resources” page with links to internal and external sites. They all had one thing in common: employee development. However, that label was taken for the section outlining the Employee Development Process. To name this section, we turned to a katakana term we had heard throughout the interviews, used casually and frequently by our translator and the employees to describe improving their skills, abilities and career prospects: “skill-up.” Job Families In the US, you would immediately know what I meant if I were to refer to a “family of colors,” a “family of nations,” or a “family of jobs.” You would assume that they all had some unifying theme. Trouble is, “family” is not used in this metaphorical way in Japanese. There are terms that roughly translate to “types of job,” “job duties and responsibilities,” or “position,” but these have well-defined meaning that do not correspond with “Job Families” as defined by Global HR. When asked to label “job families,” employees continually gave us the same two (maybe three) terms—”shokushu” and “shokumu.” Written in katakana, the word became meaningless. (Remember that even to someone who knows the English term, the katakana only conveys the phonetics of a two-word phrase that has no meaning in Japanese.) So this was pretty much the only other case—in addition to the name of the site—where we went with the English, written in romaji. EVERYONE would immediately understand “job” and “family,” and we immediately explained this new term: related positions which require similar ability, knowledge and skills. The term was written in romaji in the label and in the title for the section, but once the context was established, we used katakana to make it easier to read within running copy.
Finally, despite the fact that we were introducing a “speak-up and develop your own career” in a job-for-life, seniority-based culture, there were certain ways in which we had it easier than those who introduced the CareerQuest site and concepts within the US. Japan has a strong sense of in group vs out group, which shifts depending on the situation. In this case, it may have sometimes been Japanese/foreigners, but the more important distinction was company/non-company consultant. We were already part of the in group , since we were working with the global client for over 5 years. The changes already had approval from the top down , which is important in Japanese culture. In fact, you may have heard of the Japanese term “nemawashi,” which can be translated as: behind-the-scenes maneuvering consensus-building groundwork laying wheel-greasing Essentially, it amounts to getting consensus from everyone involved (all major stakeholders) before a big meeting, announcement or rollout, so that there are no surprises. HR had already been doing the requisite “nemawashi” before our arrival, particularly with the managers. Managers had already been informed about the changes, and employees knew of them, so each had a vested interest in an accessible site : Employees because they wanted to know more about what was going on, and managers because it would help disseminate this information to the employees. Non-confrontation —This aspect of Japanese culture worked in our favor. Employees consider it somewhat awkward to ask directly for or discuss a promotion, so the website provides a framework within which to address the issue. It also lays out a process. Finally, going back to the terms and the new system in general, there was a certain level of acceptance built in, especially among the younger employees, who did not come up through the lifetime employment system. There was some amount of excitement. Related to this—and related to the discussion of terminology—I believe that words that would be clearly perceived as HR double-speak (to put it kindly) in the US could be introduced within a context of our own making.
Japan2Go would pronounce phrases to learn/repeat – other languages available, and on other platforms as well Order food by picture (from window models)
Localization - It's Big in Japan 20070408
Localization. It’s Big in Japan.
Agenda• Why Localization?• GILT: Globalization, I18n, L10n, Translation• Localization from a User-centered Design Point of View• Project Overview & Research Approach• Cultural Research• Japanese• Our Research Approach• The Research Sessions• Results• Logistics• Localization Tips• References• Q & A
Why Localization? – Even translation is difficult…• Kentucky Fried Chicken’s tagline“Finger lickin’ good” was mistranslated as“Eat your fingers off” in Chinese• General Motors ran into trouble trying to sellthe Chevy Nova in Latin America.“No va” means “no go” in Spanish.• The Budweiser slogan “King of Beers” wastranslated into Spanish as “Queen of Beers.”• Ford tried to sell the Pinto in Brazil. Pinto isapparently slang for “tiny male genitals.”• Procter & Gamble marketed its Cheer laundrydetergent in Japan under the familiar “all-temperature” slogan, yet the Japanese washclothes in cold water, almost exclusively.• An American firm in India used a symbol ofan owl in its marketing efforts only to find outthat in India, an owl signifies bad luck.Photo: Jon Ashley 2006 with Treo 700p in Kyoto Japan
Why Localization?• Simple translation is not enough (Whose Spanish? MexicanSpanish, Central American Spanish, Spanish in Spain?).What about idioms? “Break a leg!” “Let’s get down and dirty…”• Localization is tied to locale. Not just the language, but thegeography and – more important – the culture.• Size of the non-English-speaking audiencehttp://global-reach.biz/
GILT: Globalization, I18n, L10n, TranslationThe words “internationalization,” “localization” and “globalization”are often used interchangeably.However, they actually mean very different things, both for businessand in an interactive-specific context:• Globalization: Not simply having a world-wide presence, butrather the incorporation of a global perspective into all aspects of acompany (&/or communications, systems, etc.).• Internationalization (I18n): Creating culturally neutral content,materials, and products (as a first step in a localization process).– No idioms, no metaphors; character encoding, currency andaddress mechanisms, etc.• Localization (L10n): The process of adapting, designing ormanufacturing a product so that it has the look and feel of a locally-manufactured piece of goods.– Requires an understanding of local users and local culture– Content, linguistic and technical issues must be covered• Translation: Changing text from one natural language intoanother.http://www.lisa.org/ and others, see reference page
Translation Vendors• across• Advanced International Translations• Beetext• Idiom• Lido-Lang• Lingotek• Lionbridge (from the fact that “L10n” looks like “Lion”)• The Language Technology Centre• Plunet• ]project-open[• Sajan• SDL• thebigword• Translations.com• Transware
Brand can work across cultures & languageshttp://www.apple.co.jp/
Usability and affordance can transcend language aswellhttp://www.sej.co.jp/
Localization from a User-centeredDesign Point of View
Localization from a User-centered Design Point ofView• Good body of research exists on cultural research• Books:– Beyond Borders: Web Globalization Strategies– Cultures and Organizations: Software of the Mind(Geert Hofstede)• ACM papers and journal articles (Use the ACM Digital Library)• Aaron Marcus and Associates articles (amanda.com)• Information about other cultures is broadly available(books, papers, current periodicals, online resources, etc.)– Beware of older resources… cultures change!
Cultural Dimensions (Geert Hofstede – Cultures andOrganizations: Software of the Mind)• Power DistancePower distance refers to the extent to which less powerful members expect and accept unequalpower distribution within a culture.• Individualism vs. CollectivismIndividualism in cultures implies loose ties; everyone is expected to look after one’s self orimmediate family but no one else. Collectivism implies that people are integrated from birth intostrong, cohesive groups that protect them in exchange for unquestioning loyalty.• Masculinity vs. FemininityMasculinity and femininity refer to gender roles, not physical characteristics. The more "masculine"the culture, the more the two genders are differentiated.• Uncertainty AvoidancePeople vary in the extent that they feel anxiety about uncertain or unknown matters, as opposed tothe more universal feeling of fear caused by known or understood threats. Cultures vary in theiravoidance of uncertainty, creating different rituals and having different values regarding formality,punctuality, legal-religious-social requirements, and tolerance for ambiguity.• Long- vs. Short-Term Time OrientationIn the early 1980s, shortly after Hofstede first formulated his cultural dimensions, work by MichaelBond convinced him that a fifth dimension needed to be defined. Long-Term Orientation seemed toplay an important role in Asian countries that had been influenced by Confucian philosophy overmany thousands of years. Hofstede and Bond found such countries shared these beliefs:– A stable society requires unequal relations.– The family is the prototype of all social organizations; consequently, older people (parents)have more authority than younger people (and men more than women).– Virtuous behavior to others means not treating them as one would not like to be treated.– Virtuous behavior in work means trying to acquire skills and education, working hard, andCultural Dimensions and Global Web Design: What? So What? Now What? – Aaron Marcus and Associates, Inc.
UI Aspects Affected by LocalizationUser interfaces (whether for the Web or for other technologies) can bethought of as having these components:• Metaphors: Fundamental concepts communicated via words, images,sounds, and tactile experiences. The pace of metaphor invention andneologism will increase because of rapid development, deployment, anddistribution through the Web.• Mental models: Structures or organizations of data, functions, tasks,roles, and people in groups at work or play. Content, function, media, tool,role, and task hierarchies are examples.• Navigation: Movement through the mental models, i.e., through contentand tools. Examples include dialogue techniques such as menus, dialogueboxes, control panels, icons, tool palettes, and windows.• Interaction: Input/output techniques, including feedback. Examplesinclude the choices of keyboards, mice, pens, or microphones for input andthe use of drag-and-drop selection/action sequences.• Appearance: Visual, auditory, and tactile characteristics. Examplesinclude choices of colors, fonts, verbal style (e.g., verbose/terse orinformal/formal), sound cues, and vibration modes.Cross-Cultural User-Interface Design Smith, Michael J., and Salvendy, Gavriel, Eds., Proceedings, Vol. 2, Human-Computer InterfaceInternat. (HCII) Conf., 5-10 Aug., 2001, New Orleans, LA, USA, Lawrence Erlbaum Associates, Mahwah, NJ USA, pp. 502-505.
Project Brief• Fall/Winter of 2006• Intranet HR site (“CareerQuest”) created 2 years prior as part of anorganizational shift• Acquired Japanese subsidiary of major pharmaceutical company• Client accepted our recommendation – that “localization” rather thansimple “translation” was necessary for success (adoption an internalprocess)
Research Approach• Several weeks of prep– Localization bootstrap– Japanese culture– Web site content (existing site and potential Japanese content)• Straight translation of site for prototype– We created a locally-running prototype in English from thedynamic server-driven site– Translation partner delivered translated site back to us in just afew days• Test Plan: Recruiting, Test Script– Title and Tenure of each participant (all vCards)– Questions, Labeling Activities & Prototype Tasks
Team Composition• Account Strategist (generally not involved in userresearch sessions)• Content Strategist (key to sessions and project overall)• Creative Director (aesthetic research)• User Experience Architect (session facilitator)• Project Manager (logistics coordinator)• Interpreter (truly an extension of the project team)
Cultural Research• Books– Meet the Japanese– How to Do Business with the Japanese• Online Resources• Cultural norms to observe– Japanese-style, dual-language/double-sided business cards– “Meishi” ritual/practice (business cardceremony)– Bowing (& only light hand shaking)– Slip-on shoes (on and off forrestaurants, etc.)– Charcoal gray suit, “typical” is lessdistracting– Body language and hand gesture (tooAmerican is not good)• Corporation-specific culture
Language Tools – Rikaichan (Firefox Plug-in)addons.mozilla.org/en-US/firefox/addon/2471
Language Tools – Google Translate (and others)
A very short Japanese lesson• Kanji – literally means“Chinese characters”• Hiragana – the syllabary thatevolved from Kanji around the6thcentury• Katakana – more angularsyllabary developed from Kanji• Romaji – the Roman orWestern alphabetJapanese has 3 main writing systems: Kanji, Hiragana, and Katakana.Roman letters (a, b, c ...), Arabic numerals (0, 1, 2 ...) and variouspunctuation marks ( 。 , !, ?, 「 , 」 ...) are also commonly found inJapanese writing.www.aqworks.com/articles/
A very short Japanese lessonAll of these different writing systems can be found in thesame sentence. For example:– UNIX での日本語文字コードを扱うために使用されている従来の EUC は次のようなものでした。– “The traditional EUC encoding used to handle Japanesecharacter codes on Unix looked like this.”
Japanese Typography• Right to left flow is very common (many books & magazines)• Left-to-right text is common now (especially on the Web)• Vertical text is still seen, but it has an “older” feel• Like Latin-based text, “serif” type feels older than “san-serif” type• Kerning is an issue, as the ideograms are monospacedwww.aqworks.com/articles/
Japanese Typography• Typefaces conveytone and style, just asin English• The density of manyKanji charactersnecessitates certainstylistic choices• Bold can makebusy/densecharacters hard toread – and have afeeling of “ads” tryingto sell somethinganyway
Session Approach• 1 ½ hour sessions with 30 minute breaks• Participant “homework”• Using an Interpreter– Each session - even if the participants believe their English is‘good enough’ (it’s probably not;)– Advance meeting to discuss purpose & script (2 hours)– Personnel consistency (same interpreter, as possible)– A few sentences at a time– Physical arrangement (diagram)• Listening for key words and phrases• Morae recorded
Session Outline• Meishi Exchange – inconsistently observed• Introduction – Background/Relationship(long view cultural dimension)• Corporate Cultural Change Discussion• Labeling Exercise (day-2 change in layout)• Design Aesthetics– Responses to “homework”– Reference websites reviewed– Stock photography review/critiqued for authenticity– Color exploration (informed by existing ‘global norm’ research)• Usability Testing with Functional Prototype– Key Tasks– Any inherited design decisions that cause issues?• Listening for use of key phrases to aid in localizing concepts
Logistics• Traveling in a foreign country– Maps, Travel– Currency (and cash or credit biases)– Power supplies (plane & in-country standards)– US Embassy location– American Chamber of Commerce location– Medical facility locations, language proficiency and coverage– Language/phrase assistance• Treo 700p plug– Maps (subway, city, etc.)– Travel guides (local information, restaurants, site seeing)– Photos (building guides to look for)– Language program (not quite a Babelfish in your ear, but…)– Camera/Camcorder
Localization Tips• Research can work through an interpreter– Meet prior to first research session to discuss goals, approach;agree on key terms, etc.– If possible, have the same interpreter for all sessions– Allow for extra time to compensate• You will need supporting team members (On site & back at home)• Don’t let logistics overwhelm you– Compensate for jet-lag (in-country lead time)– Fully-prep for timing, location, etc.– Client extranet, etc. is invaluable– Plan for regional differences (A4 paper size, electricity, etc.)• Be prepared to evolve the research and session materialsthroughout the course of the research• You will have to watch your translation partner carefully, double-and triple-checking work against the “translation dictionary”