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Friday, August 1, 2014

MultiLingual is the leading source of information for the language industry and businesses with global communications needs. Published eight times a year plus an annual index/resource directory, it is read by more than 12,000 people in 67 countries. Information and current news are also provided by and the free electronic newsletter, MultiLingual News.

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Current Issue

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Jul/Aug, 2014



Communicating value in business terms

Key performance indicators should be used to manage a business by helping assess progress against stated strategies. They must then be relevant to that particular business and its strategy, and supposedly have a significant impact. Therefore, they should be revisited frequently to drive appropriate actions.

In today’s knowledge economy, company value is no longer driven primarily by physical assets, but is increasingly attributable to nonfinancial business drivers. Success and future value creation depend on the effective measurement and management of these critical nonfinancial or intangible resources that comprise the intellectual capital of the business....

Columns and Commentary

Post Editing: Cultural renegades

A few summers ago, as I was chatting late into the night with my Korean-American friend about the non-mainstream ways we grew up, it occurred to me that people raised more traditionally might have an easier time relating to cultures — such as many Asian cultures — that embrace collectivism over individualism, stronger power structures, strong family influence and so on....

Off the map: The creative difference

Most of us who work in localization and culturalization have a pretty solid understanding of the types of content that are typically adapted for international markets. I would venture that the majority of content localized today involves pretty straightforward text copy and other media that are descriptive, logistical or administrative in nature — things such as user interface text, medical records, technical manuals and so on. I’m essentially referring to nonfiction types of content.

Because we operate within a consumer ecosystem that’s increasingly driven by digital content, we’re also seeing a continued increase in the need for adapting creative content, meaning more and more content like books, films, television programs and video games....

Macro/Micro: Pragmatism, conflict and translation

I’ve written on war in this column before but only in the hypothetical. Now that it’s about two actual nations, both of which have MultiLingual readers, writing gets a lot more stressful. While I won’t say which side my politics align with, the first thing I have to do is admit a bias as a journalist: I have a clear opinion on right and wrong here. But what isn’t clear to me as a language service provider (LSP) owner is how our industry should handle the business side of this or any other war-like conflict....

World savvy: Language and turmoil in Ukraine

Close to 300 million people spoke Russian in 1994, just after the fall of the Soviet Union. That number has already decreased by about 120 million, according to Russia’s Benjamin Kaganov, deputy minister of education and science. And the number of Russian speakers is projected to keep dropping in the next 50 years, something that has spurred Russia to allocate around $46 million to open language learning centers around the world....

Perspectives: Creating a documentation team in India

If your team is like mine, you constantly face the challenge of doing more with the same or less staffing. We need to be flexible with finding quality employees, wherever that road might take us. In the case of Dassault Systèmes SolidWorks, that road took us to the 3DPLM offices in Pune, India.

In February 2014, my colleague Lyn Amidon and I traveled to India to greet and train our new technical writer, and to learn how to create and grow a SolidWorks documentation team there....

Region Focus

East and West: Overcoming stereotypes

We all recognize that stereotypes are inherently unfair, and yet there is a sense in which they are not altogether unhelpful. It really is true that, in general, Americans (like me) are too loud, too direct and too informal when seen from the perspective of many other cultures. And it really is true that the cultural predispositions of many Asians to avoid causing others to “lose face” can result in severe communication problems when combined with the direct Western approach to problem resolution. So with these cultural characteristics as a backdrop, we explored several areas that often give rise to difficulties between us, inhibiting our ability to serve our customers effectively....

Underserved Asian markets

We discovered that Indonesian, Malaysian and Filipino are underrepresented in global websites compared to to Korean, Traditional Chinese, Thai and Vietnamese. Part of this has to do with lower per capita incomes, but the other reason is higher tolerance for English....

Korean introduces new challenges to localization

These factors would likely make you think that localization is a widespread, well-developed industry in Korea — a been-there-done-that kind of field, with trials made and errors fixed as Korean-made goods and services swarm the world and global businesses target eager consumers in the tech-hungry country.

Quite to the contrary, localization is still relatively unknown and underdeveloped. Not a single major localization conference has taken place in the country, for example. Ask a professional translator whether they have heard of “localization,” and only few would answer yes. Localization is still not mentioned in major translation schools, let alone included in the curriculum. This is in stark contrast to many education institutions in other countries with localization courses and degrees....

GMX-V: Slaying the word count dragon

One of the most enduring features of the localization industry has been the inconsistency of word counts, not only between rival products, but also sometimes between different versions of the same product. Trying to establish a measure for the size of a given localization task is not unlike trying to fight a many-headed dragon — with Asian languages that use different writing systems providing additional challenges.

The havoc that the lack of a uniform system of measurement can cause was exemplified in 1999 when the Mars Climate Orbiter Spacecraft was lost because one NASA team used imperial units for a key spacecraft operation, while another used metric units. The total cost of this error was $125 million. Trying to cope with a lack of a common definition for estimating the size of a localization task can be equally catastrophic....

History of the localization industry in mainland China

The service pattern of localization companies underwent remarkable changes starting in 2002. Outsourcing service companies began to purchase localization companies, and traditional localization companies tended to transform into outsourcing service providers. For example, Worksoft changed its software localization service into a software outsourcing service. Henceforth its development was sped up and it became one of the listed companies of the New York Stock Exchange as the leading enterprise of China’s software outsourcing service industry. Localization technology has also been developing rapidly in the past decade. SJTU Sunway Software Industry Limited was the first to formulate the concept of “information localization” in China, and in 2004 it successfully developed Yaxin CAT, a computer-aided translation tool, with the ambition of becoming the largest information localization expert in the Asia-Pacific region....


Localizers could help brands find the “love”

I suspect many of us in the localization industry would be thrilled to be invited to the table to help overcome such a challenge. But with a few notable exceptions, we generally are not. I wonder why? As insightful cultural and linguistic experts, often with significant networks and resources in the global markets in which these brands operate, more of us ought to be involved upstream instead of downstream. Besides, as a Japanese man who grew up loving American culture — and eating my fair share of Big Macs — I ought to know something about Japanese McDonald’s, both as a customer and as a localization specialist....


The future of technology in ASL translation

As we all know by now, technology is constantly changing the way we interact with other people and the world around us. Machine translation has been around for many years, and its reliability and accuracy is improving all the time. The same sort of technology has even begun to be applied to spoken language, with translator apps available on many smartphones. Of course, the hit-or-miss accuracy and reliability of these technologies means that they are no substitute for professional human translation, and are unlikely to become so, but they provide examples of how technology has begun to explore language and can provide valuable tools to those who are unable to access or afford professional services....

Audio localization from films to games

My group at Warner Bros. (WB) had been dubbing movies in more than 25 languages for more than 15 years when we began game localization. This led us to approach this new challenge from a different angle than the rest of the industry. It appeared to me that applying our expertise in film dubbing to game localization was the most logical thing to do and, most importantly, it was what everyone in the game industry wanted at the time: high-quality dubbing for games. This may seem simple, but the film world and the game world were (and still are) far away in the localization universe, and this is where this new gig became really challenging....