A Day for Google, a Year for All Professional Translators

Comments off

“What all the professional human translators in the world produce in a year, our system translates in roughly a single day.”

-Google Translate research scientist Franz Och, in a blog post

Google TranslateDara Kerr reports this in an article on Google Translate’s 64 languages and 200 million users.

Life could be worse, I say.

Suppose we were all cobbling shoes or manufacturing turkey basters. Google wouldn’t even take notice of us. We’d be leading unexamined lives and wondering why our industry was so quiet and free from disruption.

Meanwhile, Franz is kind enough to throw us a bone:

“Of course, for nuanced or mission-critical translations, nothing beats a human translator, and we believe that as machine translation encourages people to speak their own languages more and carry on more global conversations, translation experts will be more crucial than ever.”

Comically, the consensus at last week’s Localization Unconference was to breeze right by the topic of machine translation. “We’re over it,” several people said, chuckling. Were we just whistling past the graveyard?

That’s a lot of words moving through a machine. How many of them came from you?

John White of venTAJA Marketing is a localization project manager and consultant. He is also a marketing communications writer for technology and language companies.

Categories: machine translation Tags:

Localization Unconference 2012 – Silicon Valley

Comments off

If you live or plan to be near San Mateo next Friday, 27 Apr, make a reservation to attend this year’s Localization Unconference. Our gracious, recurring host Salesforce.com ensures that the free event is a day well spent, out of the office and talking with fellow localizers who slay the same dragons you slay.

Localization Unconference whiteboardI posted on this event a couple of years ago. The industry needs more of these events, so have a look at the post if you want to know more about what’s in store for you.

Attendance is free, but you must register. Hope to see you there.

(Oh, and if you’re driving down from The City, can you swing by the airport and give me a ride? Thanks.)

John White of venTAJA Marketing is a localization project manager and consultant. He is also a marketing communications writer for technology and language companies.

Categories: Uncategorized Tags:

Localize Your Mobile Apps – The CFO Says So

Comments off

mobile app localizationOn FierceDeveloper, David Marino, the CFO and co-founder of Hidden Variable Studios, has written an article on localizing mobile apps.

It’s not the same kettle of fish as localizing a console game, let alone a software package, as David describes:

Coming from a console background, localizing games was the norm, but even a cursory glance at the App Store and Android Markets will tell you that this isn’t the case on mobile platforms. Only the giant companies of the world– Disney, Electronic Arts and Zynga–bother to localize their games significantly.

Still, there are good reasons for localizing any app, and David would be a lousy CFO if he hadn’t researched them:

According to the U.S. State Department, [localization] does [lead to increased sales]. They estimate that U.S. firms alone lose $50 billion in potential sales each year because of problems with translation and localization. If you want your game or company to move beyond being a local product, you need to think global, and if you want your product to compete successfully with other native products, you need to localize it.

We certainly are pleased when people in the C-suite – especially in the CF-suite – think and write things like that.

Have a look at the rest of David’s article on localizing mobile apps, and use it to bolster that localization business case you’re making.

John White of venTAJA Marketing is a localization project manager and consultant. He is also a marketing communications writer for technology and language companies.

We’ve Lost Our Corner on the Word “Localize”

Comments off

confusion in localization-landIt’s official: the word we use to uniquely identify our industry has been co-opted.

It was bad enough that we had to explain “localization” to people at cocktail parties, as in

Localization is more than just translating from one language to another…

We now need to explain that it is not the same thing people read about in the marketing press, as in

Localization is more than just translating, and it’s different from customizing a marketing campaign…

Stealing our thunder

From the CMO Council comes a report called “Localize to Optimize Sales Channel Effectiveness.” The synopsis of the report does not mention language at all, though it does mention most of the other market concerns that language-localization addresses, viz.:

climate, geography, ethnic composition, demographics, shopper-graphics, psychographics, politics, and even neuro-sensory influences

So, while “localization” has gone mainstream, localization has (still) not gone mainstream.

Prepare yourself to do even more explaining.

John White of venTAJA Marketing is a localization project manager and consultant. He is also a marketing communications writer for technology and language companies.

Categories: localized advertising Tags:

Apple – The “Butt” of Siri-Jokes

Comments off

Apple’s new voice recognition technology is called Siri. Most countries and languages are all right with that, but there had to be someplace on the planet where it would run afoul of local usage:

That’s because the name Siri sounds suspiciously close to the Japanese word shiri – a colloquial term for buttocks that, appropriately enough, rhymes with “crass.”

Read the entire article, “In Japan, Siri Fans Bottom Jokes“. It proves once again that you can cover your shiri, but you can’t cover it everywhere.

John White of venTAJA Marketing is a localization project manager and consultant. He is also a marketing communications writer for technology and language companies.

Mobile App Localization Trends

Comments off

Following the trends in mobile app localization? Distimo has your back with a new report,  “Global Differences in App Distribution.”

As reported in Tech Crunch:

According to its findings, globally, 27% of the most popular applications are popular exclusively in one country in Apple’s App Store for iPhone. Meanwhile, Nokia’s Ovi Store has the highest proportion of apps published in just one country (29.4%) while the App Store for iPad has the lowest (3.4%).

They’ve based it on the number of countries in which given apps are available. That’s not as important a statistic to readers here as the number of languages into which given apps have been localized, but it’s some index of global thinking.

Read the entire report in the Publications section of Distimo’s website.

John White of venTAJA Marketing is a localization project manager and consultant. He is also a marketing communications writer for technology and language companies.

Categories: Uncategorized Tags:

Hindi version of Android?

Comments off

How could the world have overlooked this for so long?

Android in Hindi?From The Mobile Indian:

Android currently supports the major European languages and Chinese, but there is no Hindi version of the OS even though it is one of the most popular smartphone operating systems in India…

It is surprising that even though Hindi is the fourth most commonly spoken language in the world, Android or any other major smartphone OS doesn’t have a version of it. Although there are feature phone operating systems in Hindi from both MNCs and Indian brands, the problem is that the letters on the keyboard are usually in English.

Any other important languages getting left behind in the mobile maelstrom? Let me know in the comments.

John White of venTAJA Marketing is a localization project manager and consultant. He is also a marketing communications writer for technology and language companies.

Categories: Uncategorized Tags:

Localization and Mobile Applications – Report from Mobile Vision

Comments off

From the mobile application development world itself comes a report by Vision Mobile, sponsored by Blue Via, including a section on the topic of localizing mobile apps.

You’ve read a jillion times on this blog and elsewhere that you need to keep the strings short because the screens are small. Vision Mobile’s insight goes deeper than that, mentioning two issues in particular:

  • localization is completely manual on mobile devices
  • mobile app localization has the potential – as it did on the desktop, only now on steroids – to be superficial (occasional strings only) or pervasive (deeply region-specific)

Download the PDF of the full report, “Developer Economics 2011,” from Vision Mobile and search on “localisation.”

John White of venTAJA Marketing is a localization project manager and consultant. He is also a marketing communications writer for technology and language companies.

Good Ideas Come from Other Countries?

Comments off

Hotel built from trashJust trying to lance the bubble of those of us in the West who think civilization will founder unless we generate all of the new intellectual capital.

trendwatching.com cites a number of statistics to support its premise that emerging economies are becoming a major source of consumer innovations that will have a global impact. For example, these economies have accounted for nearly 70% of world growth during the last five years, accounted for 34% of global GDP in 2010 and will account for 39% in 2015, and will account for two-thirds of world trade in 2050.

Read more at “Emerging Economies Provide Consumer Innovations” about:

  • a platform that connects problem-solving scholars with solution-seeking companies and non-profits in India
  • a Mexican effort to build a hotel out of garbage collected from Europe’s beaches (what has Europe done for Mexico lately?)
  • a concept bar in South Africa with a digital wall and series of touch-screen tables that facilitate both digital and real-world conversation

John White of venTAJA Marketing is a localization project manager and consultant. He is also a marketing communications writer for technology and language companies.

photo credit: Corona Save the Beach

Not-so-simple Plugin Bridges Engineer-Translator Gap

Bridging gap between engineers and translatorsI said it a few months ago and I’ll say it again: Nobody needs Lua resource files.

Just when CAT tools, parsers and SaaS implementations give us new features and functionality to simplify life for translators, new formats like this creep up to bite us. This is particularly true in mobile apps, since that is the new frontier in software development.

So when a mobile apps client decided to change the format for resource files from XML to a roll-your-own format designed for the Lua scripting language, I foresaw difficulties between unsophisticated translators and the format and advised the engineers on a plugin that would smooth the process of getting translatable strings into a format translators could use.

The client hasn’t yet released the plugin for its development platform, but it’s coming shortly. It takes this:

ModRsc {
--
 name  ="IDS_EXITCONFIRM_HDRSTR",
 id    =1800,
 type  = 1,
 data  =EncStringRscData(0x03, "Exit Application?"),
}
ModRsc {
--
 name  ="IDS_EXITCOFIRM_BODYTXT",
 id    = 1801,
 type  = 1,
 data  =EncStringRscData(0xff, "Are you sure you want to exit?"),
}
ModRsc {
--
 name  ="IDS_PRIVACY_POLICY",
 id    = 1802,
 type  = 1,
 data  =EncStringRscData(0x03, "Privacy Policy"),
}
ModRsc {
--
 name  ="IDS_RATINGSINFO_HDR",
 id    = 1807,
 type  = 1,
 data  =EncStringRscData(0xff, "Ratings Info"),
}
ModRsc {
--
 name  ="IDS_THANKYOUFREE_TXT",
 id    = 1808,
 type  = 1,
 data  =EncStringRscData(0xff, "Thanks for your download!"),
}

– which you really don’t want to hand off to a translator and which could be parsed if an engineer wrote a good enough regular expression for it – and turns it into this:

translatable strings from resource files (Lua)

Not a very big deal for five strings, but quite a time-saver once you reach 50, 100, 200 strings.

You hand this .xlsx file off to translators, they translate into column D, they send it back to you, and the plugin takes the translation and round-trips it into the Lua resource format. That’s a great deal more accessible to translators, and it’s important to make them happy; otherwise, they can’t localize your software.

So, why am I still not content?

I’m not content because it takes a lot of software to perform this conversion:

  • Microsoft Visual Studio
  • Visual Studio Office Runtime
  • software development kit for this mobile app platform
  • .NET Framework

You may find these on the computers of software developers, but not likely on the computers of most of the people who would normally be tasked with handing off strings to translators: program managers, QA leads, tech writers, even localization project managers. And few translators would invest in all of this, let alone be interested in configuring it as needed.

Still, it’s inherent to the beast. Since this industry began, tools have been tying the Gordian knot between the necessary complexity of making text display in software and the necessary simplicity of letting translators perform their work.

If there were a solution located right in the middle of these two extremes, we’d have come up with it by now.

John White of venTAJA Marketing is a localization project manager and consultant. He is also a marketing communications writer for technology and language companies.

photo credit: David Kitching / CC BY-SA 2.0