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L10n - Localisation

An overview to localisation

What is this all about? The different terms with a -lisation ending can be a bit confusing. However, they refer to clearly differentiated concepts and processes. To start with, here is a definition of localisation, internationalisation and globalisation as provided by the Localisation Industry Standards Association (LISA).

 

Localisation
Localisation involves taking a product and making it linguistically and culturally appropriate to the target locale (country/region and language) where it will be used and sold. In order to make products marketable elsewhere, localisation involves more than just translation and requires a knowledge of language, cultural nuances and taboos, linguistic connotations, and other considerations in order to make the product as functional for the foreign user as it is for the domestic user.

Internationalisation
Internationalisation is the process of generalising a product so that it can handle multiple languages and cultural conventions without the need for re-design. Internationalisation takes place at the level of program design and document development. Internationalisers are often software engineers, but technical writers also play a critical role in the internationalisation stage. Their task is to prepare product and documentation that is easily localisable, for instance with sizable screen boxes, modular program units, flexible interface capability, etc. Well-internationalised products avoid cultural references and stereotypes that may be unacceptable or incomprehensible in target cultures.

Globalisation
Globalisation addresses the business issues associated with taking a product global. In the globalisation of high-tech products, this involves integrating localisation throughout a company, after proper internationalisation and product design. Globalisation also encompasses marketing, sales, and support in the world market. Globalisation requires a commitment of resources and dedication to the process of taking products to a global market from the earliest stages of product development. Although globalisation issues are pervasive in the effected environments, upper mangers and to a certain extent project managers are most likely to be involved in decision-making activities at this level.

L10N, I18N and G11N?
Shorthand for "localisation", "internationalisation" and "globalisation" respectively. These abbreviations are used in the industry to avoid repetitive strain injury (and to add some technical mystique to activities). The "11", the "18", and the "10" indicate the number of letters abbreviated in each case.

Source: http://www.lisa.org/info/faqs.html

 

Localisation is much more than translation. In fact, translation is only the main stage on the various tasks that make up the whole process. Broadly speaking, a typical localisation process, from the localisation vendor point of view, comprises the following tasks:

Project analysis and evaluation
Quote elaboration
Research on tools
Workflow design
Engineering
Translation and review
Desktop publishing
Re-engineering
Quality assurance

In order to successfully complete a localisation project, a seamless integration and coordination of all these various tasks is needed. This is usually the project manager's responsibility. Different projects may require other related tasks such as dubbing, compilation or testing.

There are always two sides on a localisation project: the client - who creates the product to be localised- and the vendor - who provides the actual localisation service. Each side must carry out a series of processes that will ultimately result in a localised product.

Clients need to integrate internationalisation practices on their production cycles so the actual localisation process runs smoothly on the vendor's side. Avoiding hard-coding of localisable elements in software applications, for instance, will ensure a faster and more efficient process with better results that will ultimately benefit the client. On their side, vendors have to make sure that the localisation workflow they design suits all product needs and meets the client's expectations.

After this sneak preview, I hope you better understand the above-mentioned statement: "localisation is much more than translation". I will be pleased to discuss about any topics related to this introduction, so feel free to contact me by using the contact form.

 

 

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