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But how useful is access to all of Google’s technology if you can’t understand the interface?
That’s of course where localization comes in. More than three in four of Google’s users live outside the United States. Three in four internet users have a different native language than English. As language professionals, we wield the power of language to convey values. And our mandate as Google’s language specialists is to use the power of our respective languages to convey Google’s values.
Here’s a story about how much localization can matter on a micro-level: one of the most recent additions to the over 160 languages that Google Search is localized into is Myanmar. Bringing Google to Myanmar was a volunteer project bringing together Google and the Burmese community worldwide, and it met a host of challenges. . .
Columns and Commentary
Thus, for me, and probably for many readers, localizing for Western Europe seems like it should be easy. Easier than many places, anyway. And probably it is — both for products coming from the United States and products coming from other locales in Western Europe. There are many shared cultural assumptions and even some shared cultural references. . .
For those of you unfamiliar with the term, UrbanDictionary.com has seven different definitions of the word frenemy. None of them are positive. Personally, I first heard of frenemies when the term popped up as a program title in season three of Sex and the City. In this episode, Miranda meets a guy at a wake and asks how he knew the deceased. He says, “Roommates in college. We were friends, but competitive. We were always fighting it out for everything. He even died first, just to beat me to the punch,” to which Miranda responds, “You were the classic frenemies.” In other words, they looked and acted like friends, but really, down at the core, there was still something adversarial going on. Friend + enemy. . .
Whenever we encounter new cultures outside of our experience, whether it is through travel to the locale or people from those cultures visiting us, we face a dilemma. There is an innate desire to connect and communicate, to find the common ground experience that may lay the foundation for a long-term relationship of some variety. Certainly there are topics that are common to all of our humanity — family, friends, work, recreation and so on. At various levels, we also collectively experience issues with politics, economics, various forms of disparity, inclusion, exclusion and so on. What defines the boundaries of proper topics? Who writes the rules of context for when a discussion about, say, a government action against its citizens is acceptable and disclosure of one’s annual income is not? And of course, why does this matter to our practice of content localization and culturalization? . . .
Ask me about the US localization job market and I could rattle on for days, but for intel on Western Europe, I called on Inger Larsen, managing director of Larsen Globalization, a language industry recruitment company based in London.
Larsen and I know each other well. We were business partners for close to seven years, both recruiting for the company she founded in 2001. My US-based partner and team kept focused on the US market, and Larsen and her crew took care of the United Kingdom, Europe and the Middle East. We all recruited for Asia. For years now we have gone to each other for advice and like to toss back and forth tidbits on what makes us different.
The great thing about getting to know a job market through a recruiter is that she (or he) has a very good feeling for how jobs are flowing at any given moment. They know trends in hiring, they know who is hiring and what the most popular positions are. . .
Karen Netto & Nelia Fahloun
Inside the EC, the Directorate-General for Translation (DG Translation) has several translation-related initiatives. These include terminology (the IATE portal and the activities of the TermCoord unit); translation masters degrees (EMT, a quality label for university translation programs); and machine translation with the MT@EC program.
According to an EC study, up to 11% of small to medium enterprises (nearly a million firms) have lost contracts with potential clients in other EU countries because of language barriers. Recognizing the shortage of language skills, the EC is proposing that by 2020, at least 50% of all 15-year-olds in Europe should speak one foreign language as an “independent user” and 75% of all pupils should learn two foreign languages at lower secondary level. . .
According to the 2012 First European Survey on Language Competences, English, French, German, Italian and Spanish are the most widely taught languages in the EU. The survey also found that improvement is still needed and that skills vary across countries. Only 42% of students were found to be competent in their first foreign language, and just 25% in their second.
At the college and university level, the Erasmus program promotes and facilitates study abroad and the resulting enhanced language and intercultural skills within the EU. The Erasmus program has been in existence since 1987 and over three million students have participated. The program currently serves approximately 230,000 students per year. The term “Erasmus generation” has been coined to describe the generation of transnational professionals able to follow career and professional options seamlessly throughout Europe. Employers can get involved by offering internships and placements to students in the Erasmus program. . .
When Oscar Wilde quipped in his 1887 short story The Canterville Ghost, “We have really everything in common with America nowadays, except, of course, language,” he was definitely onto something. The differences between British (UK) and American English, however small they appear to nonnative speakers, stand out to natives on either side of the pond.
Despite a few centuries of these gradually evolving variants, the languages never diverged too much, and UK and US English remain siblings. So how much do these differences justify localizing or customizing content, products and services for the UK market?
Thanks to globalization and the proliferation of American culture, language and products, what gets produced in the United States is perfectly understandable to just about anyone in the United Kingdom. After all, aren't they all avid consumers of cult series such as Friends, The Sopranos and Breaking Bad? . . .
Other sections on accessibility and localization, fan translation (“ROM hacking”) and crowdsourcing, as well as the use of machine translation in online games provide valuable insights. To me, however, the most interesting chapter was “Pedagogical issues in training game localizers.” The authors criticize the fact that despite the large demand for game localization and the existence of numerous translator training programs at universities worldwide, this subject has been largely ignored (though they do include an appendix on “Postgraduate courses in game localization in Spain”). Rather than simply decrying this state of affairs, they offer a detailed discussion of what such programs should consist of, including specific course descriptions . . .
Adam Jacot de Boinod
April 2014 marks the 450th anniversary of William Shakespeare’s birth. Not only was Shakespeare one of the most prolific writers ever known, but he also, without question, left an extraordinary linguistic legacy through his literary achievements. The author of 38 plays and 154 sonnets, the man we call the Bard remains one of the world’s best-loved playwrights and poets.
His plays, in particular, remain popular with theater groups around the world and are forever being performed and with different interpretations. . .
In part one of this article, I discussed the main approaches to machine translation (MT): statistical (SMT) and rules-based (RBMT), as well as hybrid, which combines the two. Using case studies from my own company, LexWorks, as well as those from other technology agnostics such as PayPal, Symantec, Autodesk and Adobe, I demonstrated that for many experienced MT practitioners, it’s not a case of which engine is best, but rather which engine best suits the content and language combinations. This second article of the series provides more concrete examples of fitting the right approach to the right situation. . .
Christian Lieske, Arle Lommel & Felix Sasaki
ITS 2.0 bears many commonalities with its predecessor ITS 1.0, but provides additional concepts that are designed to foster the automated creation and processing of multilingual web content. ITS 2.0 focuses on HTML and on XML-based formats in general, and can leverage processing based on the XML Localization Interchange File Format (XLIFF), as well as the Natural Language Processing Interchange Format (NIF).
Even though ITS 2.0 is a young standard, various implementations and end-to-end scenarios have already been realized. They show that ITS 2.0 can reduce production time and enable cost savings in management and translation. . .