Author Archives: Marjolein Groot Nibbelink

About Marjolein Groot Nibbelink

Marjolein realized early on that the Netherlands was too small for her. After traveling to 30+ countries over the span of 10 years she moved to the United States in 2014. She holds a degree in Communication from the University of Rotterdam and has long had an affinity for creative writing.

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SDL Tados 2021

An Interview With Christoffer Nilsson

Business News, Localization Technology, Multimedia Translation

By the looks of his LinkedIn profile, Christoffer Nilsson is nothing short of a true startup success story. Christoffer NilssonEven before graduating from Lund University, Sweden, he had co-founded Atod AB and Keyfactor AB, both game-related companies. Chris went on to become CEO of Warthog Sweden, managing director of Eidos Studios, and has managed the development of 20+ commercial video game projects. Since 2009, he has been managing director of LocalizeDirect, currently developing localization tools for the games industry.

We reached out to hear more about Gridly, a new CMS for digital games that is now running in beta and recently drew a $1.1 million investment from IKEA Family Foundation and other venture capitalists.

Gridly aims to become a competitive CMS for multilingual game projects. How do you foresee distinguishing Gridly from other systems?
The main differentiator is that we built a headless CMS tailor-made for the games industry. There are great tools to help developers with version control of simple files, like for your 3D meshes and textures. Gridly manages structured data, say an in-app purchase object that requires a combination of data types such as a name, a price, an image showing the item, and a description that needs translation into multiple languages. Gridly can then give business analysts access to change the price, and have translators and proofreaders edit the target languages, as well as keep track if any translation needs to be updated due to changes in the source string.

What is behind Gridly’s focus on game localization?
We chose to build localization into Gridly at the core, as localization is such a key element in the update cycle of games. It is also very hard to manage with a conventional file-based version control system. Gridly actually version controls every single string separately, making it easy to roll back to an earlier version. For more than ten years, we’ve been offering a localization management system to game developers called LocDirect. Many of the best game developers in the world are using LocDirect. So with Gridly, we took all the learnings and best practices from LocDirect and built into Gridly.

Besides the games industry specialty, are you trying to focus on a specific geographic area with this new CMS?
No, we have clients in more than 60 countries, so it is a global product.

Will Gridly offer anything innovative with regards to workflow?
Yes, we’re making it very easy for developers to customize Gridly and set up their workflows. We also offer strong support for multi-step localization, where you may start translating from Chinese to English, and then from English, go global. We also have support for managing audio in the localization flow.

How was the connection made with Entreprenörinvest? What is their interest in the language or gaming industry?
We went out to look for a partner who could provide “smart money” and be part of our journey onward. About 12 months ago, we started discussions with Jan Andersson, who is on the board of directors of both Entreprenörinvest and Innovum Invest. Jan had previously founded and exited a large software company in our region, so he had been on our radar for quite a while. They liked the combination of being part of the growing game sector with a de-risked entity. One could say that we’re selling the shovels to the game gold-diggers.

 

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Director of Sales and Advertising at | + posts

Marjolein realized early on that the Netherlands was too small for her. After traveling to 30+ countries over the span of 10 years she moved to the United States in 2014. She holds a degree in Communication from the University of Rotterdam and has long had an affinity for creative writing.

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Ten Dutch words and phrases that don’t translate well into English

Language, Translation

Uitwaaien

The Netherlands hosts more than one official language and Frysian, spoken in the northeast corner, is the most similar language to English globally. Nevertheless, Dutch has developed a distinctive vocabulary and phonetics that make some words and phrases nearly impossible to interpret to English speakers.

1. Leuk

Most dictionaries will translate leuk as “fun”, as in a descriptor of a situation or activity. Dat was leuk is easy to understand as “that was fun.” Otherwise it is widely used as an adjective describing people as cute, interesting and cool, all depending on the inflection of the sentence. Ik vind hem leuk would mean “I’m attracted to him,” while Dat zijn leuke mensen more likely means “Those are people I like to hang out with.” The simplest way to use leuk is as a one-word response to someone asking how your vacation was, or a date, or your school day. Again, the tone in which you respond leuk can truly range from tepid to inspired. It’s one of the most used descriptors in Dutch language.

2. Fijn

Pronounced nearly the same as “fine,” it definitely is not the snotty response you get from a teenager when you ask them to do the dishes. It means “good” or “delicate” or “pleasant.” You can describe a chocolate or a garment as being fijn. It’s also similar to leuk as a response to how something was, but decisively warmer in meaning. So, when you went to the concert with your aunt, and you describe it as fijn, it could mean you had a nice conversation and you’re more likely to reflect on it fondly than if you just called it leuk.

3. Lekker

Most literally this means “tasty,” as in describing something you eat or drink. If you call someone a lekker ding (tasty thing) you are saying you think they are attractive. But when you say Dat is lekker, it completely depends on inflection whether you mean “That is tasty” or “Sheesh, that sucks.” So, when you tell someone you had a flat tire on the A58 and they say lekker, don’t feel offended that they enjoy your hardship — they are in fact empathizing.

4. Gezellig

Gezellig and its German cousin gemütlich are basically the same, and appear to exist only in neighboring languages. It means homey or cozy in a warm and loving way, and can describe both a place and a social situation.

5. Apetrots

Monkey pride. This has nothing whatsoever to do with monkeys, and simply means you are prouder than you should be according to Dutch social code, which would tell you to be humble and not outspoken at all times, unless you want your head to be lopped off as you stick it taller than the mowed field. Remember also, “tall trees catch a lot of wind,” so expect to be reprimanded for boasting or showing any pride. Better to wait for others to point out for you that you did something well and politely deflect the compliment.

6. Boterham

Butter ham. But it’s just a slice of bread you are free to cover with anything — you are not restricted to just ham.

7. Ezelsbruggetje

A “little donkey bridge” describes the way your mind can remember something by thinking of something else. For example, when you can’t remember your aunt Miriam’s name, you can remember by creating a trigger about her husband, who makes mirrors. Mir-ror: Mir-iam. One of the most conspicuous donkey bridges that I still use to this day, is tracing your knuckles to remember if a month has 30 or 31 days. It makes more sense the longer you think about it. Donkeys are (wrongly) used as icons for mental slowness. As they need to get from one field to the next, they could sure use that little bridge over there to make things easier.

ezelzbruggetje

8. Wel niet

I’ve been thinking long and hard about how to explain this, but I may not be able to. “Is isn’t” is the closest I get every time. It is the ultimate oxymoron and “yeah no” is similar, but doesn’t nearly reach the potential use of wel niet, which is thrown about sentences left and right in conversations all day. It’s used to emphasize seriousness or disbelief. Wat denk je wel niet? Is “What are you thinking?!” Het zal wel niet meer regenen, means “I suspect it won’t be raining.” and contains both the confirmation that describers the speaker’s emotional feelings about the statement they make that it likely won’t be raining. It’s confusing, even to Dutch people.

9. Voorpret

“Prefun” is fairly intuitive to interpret. It is that joyous feeling when thinking ahead to the weekend, or a party, or skydiving. The happy jump your heart makes when remembering you have a date tonight, or the butterflies in your tummy as you prepare for a trip. Similarly, napret or “afterfun,” is that same feeling but after the associated event. I guess this explains why the Dutch are consistently some of the happiest people in the world.

10. Uitwaaien

“To get blown out” is what we did every first fall storm on the Dutch seaside. Parents across the country would round up their kids, put on raincoats and rubber boots and collectively migrate to the beaches for a day. There, we were sent into the cold, murky waters to let it fill our boots. It works as an insulator while we sloshed up and down the sand dunes, leaning into gale-force winds, laughing and jumping as the rain and ocean splash felt like razor cuts to our faces. It was all worth it for the rare treat of hot chocolate and whipped cream at the café later. It’s cathartic and thought to be as pshychologically helpful as seeing a therapist.

Bonus Word: Patatje Oorlog

This one is just so out of line that I had to include it. It is a strange descriptor of a fast-food dish involving French fries, mayonnaise, peanut sauce and chopped raw onions and literally translates to “fries at war” or “war fries.” The history was unknown to me until I looked it up for this article. Apparently, nobody knows who came up with the term or when exactly, but it began appearing on menus in a college town named Zwolle sometime in the eighties.

During highly contentious times of international conflict, it’s been attempted to change the name to gulf war fries, Sadam Hussein fries, Chernobyl fries, party fries, fries in political conflict, fries at peace and fries in a mess. These never caught on and mostly created anger in a culture proud of their quirky language inventions. The battlefield of fries is now cultural and culinary heritage and is likely to stick around.

I recommend you order “fries at war” when you are in the Netherlands next, and you will at once have all within earshot in stitches, and garner near-Dutch status and respect. It’s also incredibly tasty.

Director of Sales and Advertising at | + posts

Marjolein realized early on that the Netherlands was too small for her. After traveling to 30+ countries over the span of 10 years she moved to the United States in 2014. She holds a degree in Communication from the University of Rotterdam and has long had an affinity for creative writing.

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Nuances and niceties

Travel and Culture

It’s been at least five years since I traveled to a place where I did not know the language, but the upcoming LocWorld40 has taken me to the west coast of Portugal for ten days.

I grew up in the Netherlands and traveled to 20 countries between 2006 and 2016. I am now settled in Sandpoint, Idaho, as part of the MultiLingual team. Before heading to the LocWorld conference center in Estoril, I stay in Parede for a few days, a small town lodged between Lisbon and Estoril. The Airbnb housecat is named Puski, which I’m pretty sure is funny in any language, and the Russian women in the room adjacent to mine hang their underwear to dry in the shared bathroom.

Just a few hours after getting off a plane and 30 hours after leaving my house, the rain stops and I go for an evening run. In Idaho it is early afternoon, so I don’t feel quite like a zombie. I run a few miles along the promenade. I then follow the railroad to the Parede station, dip through the tunnel and pop out in the shopping center. I decide to get some food at the store while I’m here. It’s the kind of store that makes me miss Europe — it has everything I need, but is only a fraction of the size of an American store.

Quickly, the produce department air conditioning and having stopped running cools me down. I self-consciously undo my sweater from my waist to put it on. I feel painfully aware only because I know a proper European wouldn’t even be in this situation. They would have thought to get fully dressed before they walked into the grocery store. In fact, they would never be wearing their running clothes here in the first place! Running clothes are to be worn for one occasion only: running. You then go home, shower and put on your normal clothes to get a bag of lettuce. I awkwardly pull my Icebreaker over my head among the kiwis and bok choi. Two old ladies who stood chatting fall silent.

Pretending to be oblivious, I stare sheepishly at Portuguese food labels, the sheep-effect of which is only enhanced by my not wearing my glasses.

The checkout lady says “boa noite” in greeting. I repeat it back as best I can, only to be sized up from over her rims, followed with a blank stare and a cold “hee-ello”. Guess I didn’t quite get it right. Besides the running clothes, I now carry the confident swagger of an American, complete with near-permanent smile. I wish I could simply flip the switch and localize my body language back to Europe, but having been away for so long, that is hard to do.

I need a bag to take all the things I got excited about (like the box of fresh olives for 78 cents). Portuguese quite often reads a lot like Spanish, but sometimes not at all. In pronunciation I’ve noticed the “s” and “c” become a prominent “sh,” making the language sound less Latino and more Slavic. I imagine a bag might be bolsa and sound like bolshia. I give it a go. Another dead stare. I sweetly ask what the name for bag is and realize too late that I am only adding to the American stereotype. It’s “saca.” People in line begin to sigh. Bing translator later tells be “bolsa” was just fine.

I want them to know I am not an American. I want to look everyone in the eye and explain I grew up in the Netherlands and unabashedly beg for their approval — not because I am ashamed but because I am cursed to understand the feelings they have toward Americans. At the same time I ache to explain what an amazing place I live in, not a MAGA trailer park next to a gun range.

I want Europeans to understand there are pockets of amazing people who have gathered to live their unique subculture of passions. That we move about the country freely, mostly between age 18 and 35, to find a place that fits us best. This freedom paired with an inherited thirst for exploration creates an entire continent of people who localize themselves according to passion, age, heritage and belief.

Part of me wants to point out their silly superiority complex an how much they complain and ask why they don’t like it when people over 55 go dancing in a silly costume if they happen to feel like it. That bullying is not OK and catcalling is very 2006. That, maybe when they would look farther than the tips of their nose, they could develop a better understanding of what goes on across the big pond beyond what they see on Jersey Shore and The Apprentice. The average person from the United States does not make it onto television.

So here I find myself lost between two shores, as Neil Diamond put it. I will continue to talk about nuances in all cultures and how important it is to understand these. Europe is not a utopian place where everyone is gorgeous, gets along and all are accepted. In turn America is not a filthy bunch of trigger-happy hillbillies represented by one person in an oval office.

The thing I love so much about our industry is that it is precisely about that effort to understand each other. Most of us straddle more than one culture and are able to see the subtleties of other ways of life. See you at LocWorld!

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Director of Sales and Advertising at | + posts

Marjolein realized early on that the Netherlands was too small for her. After traveling to 30+ countries over the span of 10 years she moved to the United States in 2014. She holds a degree in Communication from the University of Rotterdam and has long had an affinity for creative writing.

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Why NOT to localize GDPR implementation

Localization, Marketing

Suddenly your inbox is filling up with updated privacy policy notices from every company you have ever offered your name or email to. It’s worth taking a look at what they say — you’ll be surprised how obvious most of it sounds. You assumed your personal data was always treated with this level of respect. Sorry, it hasn’t been.

The General Data Protection Regulations (GDPR) were approved in the European Union in 2016 after four years or deliberation and edits, and enforcement commences May 25, 2018. Previous guidelines date back to 1990, five years before the oh-my-gosh-the-digital-era-is-upon-us classic THE NET. Clearly an update was overdue and while large multinationals have hired a small army of specialists to gracefully implement said rules, small businesses are scrambling to grasp the scope and find the time. Mostly because, sometime mid-April, they first heard of this and realized it applies to any company possessing the data of an EU citizen.

Our industry’s business is by default international, and it’s essential to understand these regulations apply to all EU citizens regardless where the data is processed. Companies in the United States, Japan or Zimbabwe must all comply when handling data of an EU citizen, but are not obligated to do so with data of non-EU citizens. Many language service providers (LSPs) consist of small teams with limited legal resources to implement GDPR, and if you’re freaking out right now that’s perfectly legit. Judging by Facebook’s decision to move 1.5 billion users from Ireland to California to avoid responsibility, most data-holders are.

Why not to localize GDPR

Always Localize?

Having a habit of localizing anything we can, it’s unsurprising we (MultiLingual) considered separating our EU clients from the rest in order to conform. Looking at the extent of our online database, that was going to be quite a task. It didn’t take long before we decided that applying the regulations to all data subjects, not just EU citizens, was going to be much easier. It’s actually more work to distinguish between the two and create separate policies, especially when you keep in mind odd cases like myself, who are permanent residents of the Unites States but hold EU citizenship. How will you be able to know this as a processor?

Another reason not to localize this effort — but instead apply it across the board — is that GDPR encourages trust. A fresh privacy policy and transparent opt-in choices are indicative of the kind integrity anyone hopes for. As a marketer, I like to think of opportunities rather than limitations. Sure, less people are going to opt in to receive direct mailers with sales pitches, but by distinguishing three categories of output instead of lumping them all into one, we’ll be able to customize delivery to our clients and prospects giving them a more appealing and personalized experience, hopefully resulting in a higher response rate. If you feel that GDPR offers timely basic respect and clarity, why not give all your customers the same peace of mind? Meanwhile, you are saving yourself some work and strengthening the tie with your clients.

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Director of Sales and Advertising at | + posts

Marjolein realized early on that the Netherlands was too small for her. After traveling to 30+ countries over the span of 10 years she moved to the United States in 2014. She holds a degree in Communication from the University of Rotterdam and has long had an affinity for creative writing.

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#LocWorld31 Dublin, 2016

Blogos, Travel and Culture

Around June of each year it’s a pleasure to represent MultiLingual at LocWorld in Europe. It gives me a chance to visit the “old world” I grew up in.

Europe. Quiet crowds comfortably brush up against each other. In a sense this physical contact makes you feel more connected to those around you. I consider how this makes me feel calm among strangers. People communicate more with their eyes and facial expressions rather than speaking.

I want coffee. There’s only one size and compared to the US it costs twice as much and offers half the content. It makes up for this in flavor. I adjust my table manners back to old world standards—use both fork and knife, take smaller bites—and begin feeling less like a stranger.

At first impression the Irish are chummy, but others might call them careless. They truly stand out among the rest of Europe and I quickly learn not to mention religion, though they are excited about politics. Someone became quite upset that the recently appointed minister of language did not speak Gaeilge (which they prefer to call ‘Irish’). “It’s like having a minister of economy who can’t count!”

I have an odd way of adopting the local accent wherever I go. When living in Australia it was all “Good on ya mate! Is that bee’ still coo?” and now that I live in the US: “It was, like, super awesome!” I’m sure the native Irish might have felt unsure what to make of my “I believe it’s tir-tee mailes from Doblin.” But I actually have no influence on it.

And in this way, I am localizing myself before showing up at LocWorld. It’ll be for that reason alone that I mean to drink two pints of Guinness a day.

Conference Centre Dublin, location of LocWorld31

Conference Centre Dublin, location of LocWorld31

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Director of Sales and Advertising at | + posts

Marjolein realized early on that the Netherlands was too small for her. After traveling to 30+ countries over the span of 10 years she moved to the United States in 2014. She holds a degree in Communication from the University of Rotterdam and has long had an affinity for creative writing.

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My First LocWorld

Localization Culture, Travel and Culture

I was born in the eighties in the Netherlands, but Tegel International Airport, Berlin, gives me a sense of what the seventies may have been like. Ashtrays in the terminal bathrooms, nasty chairs and that lovely array of brown, orange and beige. There are two people to every seat in Terminal D ­– a converted parking garage – and a lost house sparrow makes its home where people linger, but no one lives.

A bus awaited disembarking passengers and I was overwhelmed by a memory of San Jose airport, Costa Rica, which is just as ancient and decrepit.
Once boasting the longest runway in Europe, Tegel doesn’t have much left of its original grandeur.

Someone explained to me that a new airport has long been finished, but some brilliant German engineer had accidentally forgotten to put a proper fire exhaust system in place. Oh, and the wiring needs to be redone.

So much for German efficiency.

***

There wasn’t much time to explore much, but what I saw of Berlin was about as contrastive from my expectations as possible. Though the Maritim hotel and venue ran like a Swiss watch, the minute you step outside, the city feels gray and disorganized. Given it’s been bombed practically to the ground, still the rebuilt areas look rather deprived of proper financing. Or maybe they’d just run out of decent architects.

***

This was my first time to LocWorld, representing MultiLingual Computing, Inc., and my colleagues had been humble about the conference’s caliber. I soon discovered myself to be part of a small team who see each other three times a year in Asia, Europe and North America. I felt welcomed and soon began feeling rather proud, sporting the ‘STAFF’ tag as if it were a gold medal.

I worked hard when important things needed to be done, but had time to get to know the people behind this triannual event and to network with some of the most significant people of the language industry. My colleague, Kendra, properly introduced me to Renato Beninatto and John Terninko, two men whom I’d heard much about. The first time I saw Renato was on the back cover of our magazine!

Suddenly I felt very busy and important.

I was able to catch up on my decent Dutch, shaky Spanish and found that my German had become positively flimsy. I even acquired some Ukrainian! God knows what they had me say… As a long-term traveler it was refreshingly familiar to be amongst such an international crowd again.

Multilinguists alike, we switched from English to Dutch and German.

Multilinguists alike, we switched from English to Dutch and German.

Back in Sandpoint – a sleepy town in North Idaho – my friends ask “How was Berlin?” and must be expecting a simple answer like “Great. Ate lots of bratwurst. Good beer.”

Instead they find themselves caught facing an hour-long rant on LocWorld until I notice their stunned expression morph into a more annoyed look and ending in considerate impatience.

I’m exhilarated, what can I say?

Director of Sales and Advertising at | + posts

Marjolein realized early on that the Netherlands was too small for her. After traveling to 30+ countries over the span of 10 years she moved to the United States in 2014. She holds a degree in Communication from the University of Rotterdam and has long had an affinity for creative writing.

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