The article differentiates between conventional translation and software localisation, and explains how translation is only a subset of the localization process.
Software localization is the procedure of adapting a software product to the linguistic, cultural and technical requirements of a target market. This procedure is labour-intensive and often requires a considerable amount of time from the development teams.
How does software localization differ from conventional document translation?
Software localization is the translation and adaptation of a software or web product, including the software itself and all related product records.
Traditional translation is typically an action performed after the source document has been confirmed. Software localization projects, on the other hand, often run in equivalent with the development of the source product to enable real time shipment of all language versions. For example, the translation of software strings may often commence while the software product is still in the beta stage.
Translation is only one of the process in a localization project – there are other procedures involved.
Software Localization Process
A software product that has been localized optimally has the look and feel of a product originally written and intended for the target market. Here are just a number of points that have to be kept in mind besides the linguistic correctness, in order to efficiently localize a software product or website: measuring units, number systems, address formats, time and date formats (long and short), local guidelines, copyright issues, data security, payment methods, currency exchange & taxes.
The standard localization procedure includes the following basic steps:
- Analysis of the material received and evaluation of the tools and resources required for localization
- Assessments of cultural, technical and linguistic aspects
- Creation and maintenance of glossaries
- Translation to the target language
- Edition of the user interface, including resizing of forms and dialogs
- Localization of graphics, scripts or other media having visible text, characters, etc.
- Collection and build of the localized files for testing
- Linguistic review
- Project delivery
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