Is Lack of Translated Literature an 'Iron Curtain'?

May 17, 2010 by Ana Yoerg
Category: "Spot" on Language, Culture

wall of books

In the United States and Britain, just 2-3% of books published each year are translations, compared to nearly 35% in Latin America and Western Europe.

It's this "dearth of translated literature" that is constructing "a new kind of iron curtain" around the native English-speaking world, argues translator Edith Grossman in a carefully thought-out piece in Foreign Policy magazine.

When Does "Back" Mean "Go"?

May 13, 2010 by Acclaro
Category: Software Translation

arabic browserIf you saw an arrow on upper left side of your browser, you'd think it means "go back," right?

Not if you were looking at it from the viewpoint of a speaker of a language that reads from right to left, such as Arabic, Persian (Farsi), Urdu, Hebrew, and Yiddish.

These languages are often referred to as "bi-directional" languages, or "bidi" for short — even though they really only run in one direction. Writing begins on the right-hand side of the page and concludes at the left. However, numbers are generally written left to right, and text written in other languages (English, French) maintain their left-to-right status, so the final text really is bi-directional.

So what does this mean for your localization efforts?

Below are some takeaways on bi-directional language markets from today's webinar on The Basics of Software Localization. (In case you missed it!)

  • When "translating," or localizing, your software for foreign markets, remember that icon and UI placements that make japanese stop signsense in left-to-right placements, such as the "Back" and "Go" buttons in a browser, will have a different (often exactly opposite) meaning in bidi languages.
  • On that note, also be aware of the differences in symbols. Say, for instance, that you use a red hexagon to mean "stop" in the original version of your software. In Japan, that won't fly; the symbol for "stop" is an upside-down triangle.

Birth of a Domain: Non-Latin Characters Now Supported

May 11, 2010 by Ana Yoerg
Category: Website Translation Services

The regulation agency that oversees domain names, the Internet Corporation for Assigned Names and Numbers (ICANN) has finally created a system that will support web addresses made of entirely of non-Latin characters, the BBC reported last week. 

Country-code domains, or suffixes, such as .de for Germany and .fr for France can now be written in the characters of that country's primary language (e.g., Chinese character, Arabic script).

It was declared a "historic" day by ICANN president Rod Beckstrom, the biggest change to the internet since it was "invented 40 years ago," according to the BBC.

3 Tips for Easy, Seamless Software Localization

May 7, 2010 by Acclaro
Category: Software Translation

The following are some useful snippets from a webinar on The Basics of Software Localization that will be presented on Thursday, May 13th, 2010 at noon ET / 9am PT by Acclaro's own Jon Ritzdorf.

Software localization is more than just a seven syllable term; it's a complex, important process you need to go through to make your software useful in new language markets.

And working with all the different resource formats, linguistic construction of strings, and user interfaces can be mind-boggling. Luckily, there are few things you can do to help — not hinder — the translation process.

software localization

Continue reading for three simple but helpful tips to simplify the software localization process.

The Languages of Our Ancestors

May 5, 2010 by Stephanie Engelsen
Category: Culture

This blog is taken from a presentation given by Dr. Spencer Wells at a conference in San Francisco, CA in April, 2010. A previous version of this presentation was also recorded by TED in 2007. 

Ever wonder where you come from? Not where your grandfather or even your great, great, great, great grandmother came from, but where your ancestors from ten thousand years ago came from. Ever wonder when and how those ancestors migrated and how the languages they spoke evolved and in turn, influenced other languages? What about our diversity and conversely, what about our similarities?


It's all being determined, one DNA swab at a time. The Genographic Project of the National Geographic Society has taken up the task of the human journey; and so far has hundreds of thousands of DNA samples from around the world to conduct the research.

World Quiz: Dapper Diplomat or Timid Tourist?

May 3, 2010 by Acclaro
Category: Culture

world-quizCheck out our new and improved Acclaro World Quiz and find out if you are a dapper diplomat or a timid tourist. In the quiz, there are questions about language, geography, world culture and business and more.

Here are a few sample questions to get your international brain thinking:

The reality TV show "Big Brother" was first broadcast in which country?

  1. The Netherlands
  2. Australia
  3. Sweden
  4. United Kingdom

Which language is the most spoken language in the world?

  1. Hindi
  2. Spanish
  3. English
  4. Mandarin Chinese

Continue reading to find out the answers....

Of Sweaters and Translations

knittingWith crowdsourcing being so much in the localization news lately, the concept of "consistency" has also frequently come up.

Consistency, along with quality, has been declared the victim of crowdsourcing by those opposed to using the "crowd" for localization. Promotors of crowdsourcing claim that consistency is a myth and not dependent on the number of people working on a project. I sometimes feel this is a false debate.

Yes, consistency is sacred to translators, but are they wrong, defensive, and antiquated?

A text is consistent if the same term is used to describe the same source term throughout the translation, and if the style applied to it is the same as well. Basically, a consistent text is one in which a reader cannot tell that it has been written or translated by more than one person.

Now, let's bring knitting into this debate.

French Goes Global - On Its Own Terms

April 29, 2010 by Stephanie Engelsen
Category: "Spot" on Language, Culture

france-globalizationEvery few years, French purists talk about the supposed decline and fall of the French language. Then there's a vain attempt to ban words like le t-shirt or le weekend. This language patriotism tends to coincide with elections, anti-immigration initiatives, non-conformist music fads (i.e. French-Arabic rap), and anytime France falls into a periodic malaise.

A malaise is going on right now fueled by a stark economic crisis, decline in global superiority and influence, lack of popular support for the government, and fundamental, yet unavoidable, changes to a way of life that has persisted for centuries.

Michael Kimmelman in The New York Times writes about this latest crise of identity and language in the midst of a world that's going global. And the French are going global with it — kicking, screaming and throwing their exception-riddled subjunctive tense into the poubelle.

4 Twitter Translation Tools

April 28, 2010 by Ana Yoerg
Category: Technology, Mobile

twitter italianTwitter has already "taken over" the U.S., transcending demographic and geographic boundaries to reach nearly everyone in the country. Okay, that may be a bit of an exaggeration. But it certainly has grown since its humble beginnings as a sketch on Jack Dorsey's notepad.

Now not only is the Twitter interface in six languages — English, Japanese, and FIGS (French, Italian, German, and Spanish) — but it is now becoming so international that tweets themselves are in multiple languages. In fact, 6 in 10 registered accounts now come from outside of the U.S., says the San Francisco-based company.

'Teutonic Cozyness' For Your Home

instructionsWho hasn't come — or rather stumbled — across a user's manual or instructions-for-use document for a foreign-made product they just bought and couldn't make heads or tails of the "translated" text? Or had to stop what they were doing and have an attack of hysterical laughter?

The value that a professional translator can add to the basic usability of such documents – let alone to the respect for the customer the manufacturer doubtlessly intends — is best demonstrated by a few choice examples of haphazard efforts in conveying such instructional contents in the target language.

The Japanese Mall: A Love Affair

April 23, 2010 by Dina Paglia
Category: Culture

map of japanLike most of my colleagues in localization, I was drawn to this business because of my love of foreign languages and cultures.

My particular passion lies with Japan, a culture I’ve been fascinated with since my first trip there to study in 1993. My experience there had such a profound impact on me that I was seeking out ways to return on the plane ride home!

I've struggled ever since then to maintain my language skills and remain up to date on current events with the eventual plan of returning some day.

No Beer at Work? Time to Strike

April 21, 2010 by Stephanie Engelsen
Category: Culture

beer glassesWhew, it was a hard day at work and now it’s time for a beer at a local bar with your colleagues. Well, if you work at various European breweries, you can drink with your colleague at work.

In fact, until three weeks ago, at the Carlsberg brewery in Copenhagen, Denmark, you could drink the yeasty brew of your hard labor anytime during your shift. As of April 1 however, the brewery taps went dry and workers were restricted to only (!) three pints during lunch hour.

Much to the chagrin of the union, it wasn’t an April Fool’s joke, so they did what any sensible beer-loving-brewery-worker would do — they went on strike. Who suffered the most? More than likely beer consumers in Copenhagen who couldn’t buy Carlsberg beer for three days during the strike.

The strike is over (learn management’s point of view on The World), and the beer is flowing again for consumers, while all-you-can-drink water and soft drinks are flowing for brewery workers.

Language in the Courts: A Casual Carpool Discussion

April 19, 2010 by Lydia Clarke
Category: Culture

I take Casual Carpool to work most days. The ride takes about 30 minutes; normally drivers tune their car stereos to NPR, KPFA, or some innocuous music station, and most rides are spent in comfortable silence.

But sometimes people feel like chatting, and inevitably one of the first questions asked is: “What do you do?” This gives me plenty of opportunities to practice my elevator speech, which most days this garners the predictable “What languages do you speak?”

But yesterday I got to have a really interesting conversation about language and culture where I wasn’t the one doing most of the talking.

How To: Set Up and Manage A Global Localization Team

April 16, 2010 by Acclaro
Category: Localization Tips, International Staffing

Your business is expanding globally by leaps and bounds. You need a localization manager in Japan, a linguist in India, a testing engineer in Mexico, and a language lead in the States. How do you tackle this?

staffing around the globeTo get started, you need to answer several basic, but important questions, such as:

  1. What are your staffing requirements?
  2. How will employees or contractors be set up in terms of logistics?
  3. What is the duration of the position or contract?

Then you’ll want to think about legal, financial and technical considerations:

  1. Do you know about local employment laws and practices?
  2. Do you have a legal entity already in the country you’re hiring into?
  3. Have you established expectations for payment, especially with freelancers?
  4. How are you going to set up your team technically (i.e. network resources, IT support, internet connectivity, etc.)?

Translators Give 'Voice' to Bloggers Worldwide

April 15, 2010 by Ana Yoerg
Category: Crowdsourcing

global voices logoAs reports of protests and violence in Thailand came streaming in over the past month I wasn't quite sure where to turn for on-the-ground, local coverage of the conflict. Despite having lived in the country as an expat some years ago, my language is not good enough to delve into Thai-only newspapers like Thai Rath, the Daily News, or Matichon's Khao Sod.

It's a common problem: many ex-expats and media hounds thirsty for insider knowledge into a country's current events feel frustrated when events erupt and they don't know what to read — or more specifically, what to believe.

Global Voices, a nonprofit organization based in The Netherlands and supported by a handful of marquee foundations and donors, is helping to solve that problem. It is a community of more than 200 bloggers around the world who — with the help of volunteer and part-time authors, editors, and translators — provide reports from areas of the world that may not have accurate or deep representation in Western media sources.

Language and Culture Apps for iPad

April 13, 2010 by Stephanie Engelsen
Category: Multimedia, Technology, Mobile

ipadThe Apple iPad is here. On launch day April 3, 2010, consumers bought a reported 300,000 of these color, touch-screen tablets. It’s still to be determined if it will revolutionize how people read a newspaper or watch a film — but what I really want to know is if it can teach you French.

One of the hypes about the iPad was all the apps that were going to be created for it — mobile apps on steroids. Productivity! Lifestyle! Light saber duels! Nearly 4,000 iPad apps and counting….

How To: Work With Images

The following is a takeaway from a presentation delivered by Acclaro Program Manager Lydia Clarke at the 2010 California State University, Chico Localization Certification Program in San Francisco.

Content creators often do not consider the possibility that their material may one day be translated into another language. Therefore, they often write, organize, and present information for their target audience, whether that audience is English speakers or say, Spanish speakers. There's certainly nothing wrong with this sense of immediacy, but companies do expand into other language markets and should be able to use the same content for these new readers.

Enter translation, and its many challenges! Words and their many nuances aside, one of the most problematic parts of translating content — be it technical documentation, user interfaces, website pages, or marketing collateral — is images.

The good news is that you, as a content creator, can do a lot now to save yourself time (and money!) down the road:

best practices for images

A Rose Is Not A Rose, Across Borders

April 8, 2010 by Acclaro
Category: Culture

desert flowers joshua treePut away your wool coat and get out your linen. It’s spring again! And spring means flowers – even in the desert of Joshua Tree National Park.

Thousands of miles away in The Netherlands, flowers mean a multi-billion dollar business. $3,487,749,930 to be exact, according to the Flower Council of Holland and as quoted on the PBS documentary “The Botany of Desire” website.

The country with the largest per-capita flower consumption? Switzerland, followed by Norway and then the tulip masters themselves, Holland.

Hidden Localization Lessons at IKEA

What in the world did we do for inexpensive, “high”-design, build-it-yourself furniture before IKEA?

Before 1985, when IKEA opened their first store in the States, dorm rooms everywhere were littered with “bookshelves” made out of planks of wood and concrete blocks. Now, instead of going to the lumber yard, millions head to IKEA to for flat-packed everything — kitchen cabinets, desks, sheet sets, lamps, glasses, decorations, and yes, even pet beds.

IKEA is in nearly 40 countries; they are the true masters of product naming, multilingual packaging, and labeling and pictorial instructions.

Product Names

Need a toilet roll holder? Why not the MOLGER ($2.99 in wood) or the GRUNDTAL ($4.99 in stainless steel)? Sometimes, a name (and note they are always one word) will also be a series – so the MOLGER series also includes a plethora of other items for the bathroom such as a step stool, soap dish, shelving unit, or a mirrored hook rack.

Q&A: What is SEM localization?

April 5, 2010 by Acclaro
Category: Marketing, Website Translation Services, Localization Tips, Q&A

Search engine marketing (SEM) localization is the process of targeting customers in international question markmarkets by ranking well in search engine results, generating traffic, and converting visitors to actual leads and sales. 

Many people have problems differentiating between SEO, PPC, and SEM. (So many acronyms!)

SEO is search engine optimization, and is often referred to as "natural," "organic," or "unpaid" search. In the localization world, SEO means translating your metatags, descriptions, alt tags, URLs, and other language-based information into the target language.

PPC (pay per click) is when you (the advertiser) bid on keywords relevant to your product, service, and target market. Your ads then display as "sponsored results" on search engines like Google, Yahoo, and Microsft when those queries are typed in. (Depending, of course, on their relevance, how much you bid, and about a trillion other factors.)

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