#197 – September/October

Localization is challenging no matter the size or age of your company. Something as fluid as human communication, with all its attendant vagaries and subtleties, is intrinsically difficult to replicate faithfully. When it’s a startup, with all the chaos and uncertainty that name implies, seeking to localize its product or service that challenge is magnified tenfold. 



ocalization is challenging no matter the size or age of your company. Something as fluid as human communication, with all its attendant vagaries and subtleties, is intrinsically difficult to replicate faithfully. When it’s a startup, with all the chaos and uncertainty that name implies, seeking to localize its product or service that challenge is magnified tenfold. 

The word startup — a word that barely existed in the English lexicon until 1976, didn’t see widespread usage in US English until the late 90s, and still has a somewhat amorphous and contested definition — has come to symbolize both the promise and pitfalls of entrepreneurship, innovation, and 21st-century capitalism. Startup culture (and the mere fact of the existence of such a thing as “startup culture” is telling) is chronicled, observed, worshipped, and criticized. Startups are fodder for documentaries, web series, films, books, and countless think pieces. And the great majority of startups, like all businesses, are powered by the drive to grow. Growth means expansion and expansion means adaptation, and that’s where localization comes in. 

As we’ll see in the pages that follow, there are a multitude of concerns, and a multitude of approaches, when it comes to localizing your product or service as a startup, but the one thread that runs through them is this: if you have even a moderate level of confidence that you’re going to expand your presence outside of your local market, build your brand from the start with that in mind. 

The world is large, and diverse, and it’s gratifying to see the start-up world acknowledging and adapting to that reality. 

Katie Botkin signature


10 years in existence

Looking back on ten years of Translators Without Borders (TWB) and the work they have done, it is easy to see a commitment to language equality, education, and crisis response. From the Haiti earthquake of 2010 that cost the lives of an estimated 200,000 people, to creating language maps for countries with a large indigenous population — TWB has sent skilled people to work on amazing projects based on data, research, and technology.


Experiential Localization Quality Assessment (xLQA) and User-Centricity Illustrated

By Tucker Johnson

There is more competition for consumers’ attention than ever before. As technology improves, it influences how brands engage with their global customers. Today, brands need to be aware of not only what language they are using, but also how they are using it. It is harder now than ever to comprehensively define “language quality” or “translation quality,” if not downright impossible.text in the module Advanced settings.

Go Global by Going Local

By Cristina Siragusa

Localization is one of the latest branches that has developed in the wide-ranging world of translation. It mainly refers to the translation of digital products and is intimately connected to the rise of information technology, personal computers and software products, the ascent of the internet, and the now boundless spread of websites and mobile apps.

7 Tips for Evaluating a TMS

By Sophie Halbeisen

The evaluation and implementation of a tool is a serious project, one that — in a best case scenario — you only want to do once. While it’s a project that can set your company up for success, it can also be a painful process that costs lots of time, money, and resources.

Think Socially; Act Locally

By John Yunker

When asked by a reporter why he robbed banks, the stick-up man Willie Sutton reportedly answered, “Because that’s where the money is.” Accordingly, companies invest heavily in creating content specifically for social media platforms such as Facebook, Twitter, YouTube, and TikTok — because that’s where the people are.

Localization in a Startup

By Patricia Doest

About a year ago, in the middle of the pandemic, I made the bold decision to move to Barcelona with my family to join Preply, an ed-tech startup company which opened its doors in 2019. As the company’s head of localization, I would be building their Center of Excellence from scratch.
Working at startups is in my genes. After graduating from college, I started working for my dad at his recruitment agency. A few years later, wanting to stay closer to my educational background, I joined a translation agency as a project manager. The agencies I’ve worked with since then have always been small, fighting for their place in the industry.


A Sneak Peek at LocWorld Africa
with Donna Parrish and Ulrich Henes

When Donna Parrish (former publisher of MultiLingual magazine) and Ulrich Henes (founder of The Localization Institute) organized the inaugural LocWorld conference in Seattle in October of 2003, the duo wanted to see an event for language industry professionals to network with, and learn from, their peers. In its nearly two decades, the LocWorld global conference series have carved out a respectable position for itself within the localization industry.


Lucie Séguin Talks about the Past, Present, and Future of Canada’s Translation Bureau

For the better part of the last century, the number of monolingual French speakers in Canada has been slightly declining — during that same timeframe, rates of bilingualism have been steadily rising among the country’s historically French-speaking communities, as English maintains an economic and social stronghold throughout the country.


Build a Global-Ready Product from Day One

By Nataly Kelly

Early-stage companies tend to fall into one of two categories in their approach to localization. Many startups say, “Let’s worry about international later on,” opting to focus on their home market instead. Th is is common for US-based companies, because they have such a large market opportunity to begin with.

Endangered Writing Systems

By Tim Brookes

In 1964, one of the most important acts in the history of environmental conservation took place: the International Union for Conservation of Nature published the Red List of Threatened Species.

Gender Bias: the Challenge of ‘He’ vs. ‘She’ for MT

By John Tinsley

The worst forms of bias are those that are explicit conscious forms of prejudice against some individual or group based on some characteristic of their being, such as race, gender, sexual orientation, or religious beliefs. Arguably though, the most insidious forms of bias are those unconscious biases — the ones we might not even realize we have or exhibit.

Multilingual Challenges in the Legal Sector

By Christophe Djaouani

In my final Rules of the Trade column, I am focusing on the specific needs of the legal sector in embracing the challenges presented by multilingual content. It is a very good place to end my discussions about the specific requirements of heavily regulated industries because not only does the legal sector continue to grow rapidly on a global scale but so does the complexity of managing an ever-increasing caseload with an international flavor.


LocWorldWide44 PIC Winner Elaborates

By Rikkert Engels

More and more companies are using headless CMS architecture to handle content for their websites. However, for multi-lingual websites, a division between the front end and the back end can lead to a variety of UX and SEO issues. For example, a well-edited and artistically articulated marketing message that a company spent a hefty budget to translate and localize may be misplaced or end up with an untranslated title, causing a single page to contain multiple languages.

Academic Corner: New Perspectives

With Jamie Chu, Jessy Nguyen, Calvin Westfall, Autumn Smith

The language industry encompasses a dynamic and rapidly changing medium — human language — and we are committed to providing a space for new voices with fresh perspectives, including students and recent graduates.


Managing Cyber Risk

By Mark Shriner

Language service providers (LSPs) and their enterprise customers are becoming increasingly concerned with cybersecurity, privacy, and compliance with various regulatory frameworks including General Data Protection Regulation (GDPR) and the Health Insurance Portability and Accountability Act (HIPAA).

What Makes Big Data Fit for NMT Consumption?

By Aidan Collins

The proverb “you can’t make a silk purse out of a sow’s ear” is reputedly more than 400 years old. It long predates the more modern idiom “Garbage In: Garbage Out” (GIGO), a warning from early software development producers. Both mean the same thing; if you have garbage at one end, it is only possible to produce garbage at the other.