Macro/Micro: The how of mobile localization

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Terena Bell
Multilingual December 2014
Columns and Commentary

If you think about how mobile impacts us here in the world of translation, it’s easy to realize the cell phone’s growing prevalence impacts the type of translations we perform — client assignments should become increasingly more for mobile apps and less for long user manuals, more for mobile-optimized websites and less for PDF printed brochures. But mobile as a medium doesn’t mean that translation needs for traditional document translation will go completely away and, while the acceleration of the app introduces a new assignment type, the cell phone’s greatest impact on localization has little to do with the type of assignments we receive....

The Rosetta Foundation’s whole mission is to make use of translation as a way to provide health and educational information to those in impoverished and under-developed areas. If a translator in Africa does not have a laptop, only a smartphone, he or she must therefore translate upon that phone.

Through making the translation process available to this subset of translators, The Rosetta Foundation is not only making it easier for their translators to operate, but is economically enabling a continent and is pushing the rest of us to innovate. If they, who make or charge no money, are able to do this, what is taking those of us in the for-profit world so long?

Don’t get me wrong. My own company is jumping on the app localization bandwagon and translating the heck out of those things. And there’s still a lot of dialogue there to be had — developing best practices and whatnot — when it comes to translating for mobile. But I really would like to challenge the localization industry to stop thinking about what we do so much as how we do it. If we had to start translation all over, and the only place we could do it was on a phone, how would workflow look? How would CAT tools change? How would we do it?...


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