Comments 1 & 2 – COM0015

I chose two blogs from different translation companies dealing with the same subject from different angles.

Blog Comments 1 & 2 – COM0015

Planning for Localization (Blog # 1 – LIONBRIDGE)

Posted August 23, 2016 by Seth Gottlieb

Originally this article appeared on Seth’s personal blog.

Localization can be an elusive requirement for a website. During the platform selection process, internationalization is often listed as a “strong” requirement. Why wouldn’t you want the ability to reach new markets? Then, during the implementation process, localizing gets downgraded as a “nice to have” or “future” requirement as time and resources dwindle and compromises need to be made to launch the primary language site. Eventually, localization becomes an “oh crap” requirement when someone expects to have a “Spanish version of the site up ASAP”. After all, localization was part of the business case and a key selling point of the platform. Yes, localizing the site would have been as easy as hiring translators if only some accommodations had been made during initial implementation. But they were not. Hence the “oh crap.”

While you may not have budget to localize your website during your initial CMS implementation, following these steps will make adding a new language easier down the road.

#1 – Learn how internationalization works on your platform

Different platforms have different approaches and best practices for internationalization. If you make the modest investment to fully understand these techniques, you will at least make educated decisions about how to defer localization and not rule it out. If you are working with a systems integrator, which I highly recommend, make sure they have experience building (and maintaining) localized websites on the platform.

#2 – Use the translation framework provided from the templating system

Any given web page will have a lot of static text that lives in templates (as opposed to in the content). For example, there might be a label on the upper right that says “search” or a copyright statement on the bottom of the page. It is not practical to manage these little “content crumbs” through your usual editorial workflow — they are small, numerous, easy to lose track of, and rarely change. But if you are planning on localizing your site, you don’t want those strings in your templates either. It is much better manage these strings separately in “resource” or “message” files that can be shipped off to translators. Most templating languages come with a system for invoking externally managed strings. For example, in JSP Standard Tag Library, translated strings are invoked like this:

fmt:message key=”some.text”/>

In eZ Publish they look like this:

{“Some text you are going to translate”|i18n(‘design/standard/node’)}

Setting this up is easy enough to do when you are building out your templates for the first time. However, it is very tedious to retrofit old mono-lingual templates with this system. You wind up doing it for templates that are no longer used “just in case.” Worse of all, you have to visually re-inspect every pixel of the site because you are touching nearly every line of view code.

#3 – Keep text out of images

Having text in images adds a lot of friction to the localization process. First, you must remember to keep the image source files on-hand so you can produce the translated versions. Second, the translation process goes through additional steps of extracting and then re-imported the localized text. Managing all of those image files can be a real pain too. It is much better to float text over image backgrounds for buttons, navigation, and slides. Incidentally, applying this practice will also help with SEO and accessibility.

#4 – Make room for other languages

Think as your primary language as the first of several languages when you are designing your content repository and defining roles and workflows. These localized content collections need a place to live. They will need access control so that a local team can safely work in their content without risking the overall content repository. Pay special attention to how “global” reusable content components are managed and retrieved.

#5 – Buy your top level domains NOW

If you will be publishing your sites to different markets, start working on acquiring those top level domains (like .fr or .es). It will be really embarrassing to enter into a new market only to find someone else squatting on your domain.

#6 – Set the appropriate character encoding

Most of the time this is a non-issue because most modern technologies default to UTF-8. Just make sure that you set up your databases with UTF-8 encoding and collation. Some older versions of programming languages require adjustments when dealing with Unicode too.

If you think localization may be in your future, plan for it now. Take the additional steps to reduce rework and risk when you are under the gun to get that new language published. If you didn’t follow this advice, I would look into translation proxies.

Categories/ Tags


First of all, if I didn’t know about the subject “localization”, I wouldn’t have any clue what the author was talking about. In addition, I had to read the first sentences twice to really get the point the author was trying to make. While I was reading, I wondered why “platform selection” was such an issue. I also wondered what exactly he meant by “internationalization” and if it was the same thing as “globalization.” I also wondered if “internationalization was the same thing as “localization.” I checked the definition of that word and I found this definition:

“Globalization, considered by many to be the inevitable wave of the future, is frequently confused with internationalization, but is in fact something totally different. Internationalization refers to the increasing importance of international trade, international relations, treaties, alliances, etc. Inter-national, of course, means between or among nations. The basic unit remains the nation, even as relations among nations become increasingly necessary and important. Globalization refers to global economic integration of many formerly national economies into one global economy, mainly by free trade and free capital mobility, but also by easy or uncontrolled migration. It is the effective erasure of national boundaries for economic purposes. International trade (governed by comparative advantage) becomes interregional trade (governed by absolute advantage). What was many becomes one.” Article written by Herman E. Daly.

I checked the credentials of this author on Wikipedia. He is a professor of the School of Public Policy of University of Maryland, College Park in the United States which is considered a good university. Wikipedia states likewise that “…internationalization is the process of increasing involvement of enterprises in international markets…”

I also checked the definition of localization, and I found this definition: “Localization refers to the adaptation of a product, application or document content to meet the language, cultural and other requirements of a specific target market (a locale).” Because I don’t know enough about the subject, I would have liked to read a blog written in a plain and clear language. I found it was too technical for me to get the message!

Blog # 2 (MORAVIA)

What LSPs Say vs. Mean: The Watering Down of “Localization”

Posted by Tucker Johnson on Thu, Sep 15, 2016 @ 07:45 PM

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I have the privilege of working with lots of new clients at Moravia. This means that I can find myself talking to people with decades more experience than myself one day, and the next day talking to a green marketing manager who is trying to get their head around this whole localization thing. In my experience engaging with clients large and small, experienced and inexperienced, I have noticed that there are some terms or concepts that are inevitably discussed, but which are either consistently used incorrectly, or not fully understood.

In this blog series, we’ll be discussing terms that form common industry parlance on both the buy and supply sides, and phrases often used by LSPs (Language Service Providers) like Moravia.

Note that these are not specific to any particular LSP, nor is it our purpose to put down our peers and claim high ground (indeed, I am guilty of misusing terminology myself). Sometimes, some of these terms and phrases are so second nature or clichéd, that someone might use one without meaning it completely.

I hope through this post that you, the buyer, will stop when you hear one of these terms or phrases, ponder what is actually meant, and ask the right questions that will help you avoid any painful misunderstandings.

What LSPs say

“We will provide full localization of your product.”

What LSPs mean

“We will provide linguistic translation of the editable strings within your product, but you may still be on the hook for much of the work required to fully adapt your product to global markets.”

Why it matters

The term localization is hands down the most egregiously misused word in the industry, in my opinion. Once upon a time, the term localization meant something. Today, the term has become so overused that it has lost most of its meaning.

Personally, I like to refer to the succinct definition from GALA, which includes components such as “Modifying content to suit the tastes and consumption habits of other markets” and “Addressing local regulations and legal requirements,” among other things.

This reflects the real complexity that all international business faces: dealing with the varying cultural, legal, and regulatory challenges in each market — much more than simply converting English words into another language.

Many times, “localization” buyers will outsource the translation of their content, while keeping many of the true localization services in-house. This may be preferable if you need to have tight control over your products or services.

If your business faces many industry-specific legal or regulatory challenges, it may also be best to retain this knowledge in-house. Since these requirements have significant impact on your product, you may want to keep that expertise within your own ranks. If you already have regional offices close to the countries where you are doing business, then it only makes sense to delegate such oversight to them.

However, if that sounds like a lot of work that you just don’t have the budget or time for, then rest assured that most LSPs can and do offer true end-to-end localization services that go above and beyond translation.

So what do you get?

Just know that 99% of the time, when I hear somebody use the word localization, they are essentially referring to simple translation. It would serve you well to make sure that your true needs are addressed so that you are not disappointed with the results.

Perhaps what you really need is transcreation, or even “from scratch” market-specific content creation? Or maybe your existing content is fine, but certain parts simply need to be edited or removed for different target markets? In that case, you could benefit greatly from in-country cultural consulting.

To summarize, the term localization has been watered-down over the years. I realize that many of you reading this may be students of language, and we could certainly have a lovely philosophical debate about what is the “true” meaning of a term (conversational implicature versus literalist interpretation), but let’s just agree that any misuse of the term is not malicious. Rather, the meaning (or intended/perceived meaning) has evolved over time — as tends to happen with language.

Regardless, though, it simply becomes important to clarify upfront what exactly is being discussed, just to make sure there are no nasty misunderstandings uncovered down the line.

Ask and you shall receive

If you are looking for basic translation, there aren’t really any specific questions to ask, as you can safely assume in your discussions with any LSP that this is what is being referred to as localization.

However, if you have needs that go beyond simply converting words to another language, then make sure to speak up! An experienced LSP will guide this conversation by asking questions to help understand what is driving your needs, and then propose an appropriate solution that works for you.


I chose this blog because I wanted to show the difference in writing style of two authors about the subject of localization. Overall, I think this blog is easy to understand. I like that the author deals with the issue of confusion in the meaning of the word “localization.” I learned that localization includes more than the adaptation of the language to the cultural taste and regional expressions, it also deals with legal issues (laws and regulations).

My perspective about blogs may be different from most of the general reader because I worked for 14 years as a terminologist; always analyzing definitions and texts to get the meaning of words of phrases in different contexts. I even learned a new expression: “conversational implcature”!

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One thought on “Comments 1 & 2 – COM0015

  1. Pingback: COM0011 – Blog 2 DO WE LOVE THOSE EMOJI, EMOTICONS, ANIMOJI and MEMOJI? – Algonquin College Social Media Certificate Program

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