Internationalization or i18n is the concept of product/service design that facilitates expansion into foreign markets (or globalization) through localization. The term is chiefly used in the software localization domain, but it can be easily applied to any other field. In this article, we take a closer look at how the internalization principles can be successfully applied to content production to make the localization process smoother, cheaper and leaner.
Determine what should be localized
Most of the time, once they reach the stage when the business operations require expansion into international markets, organizations simply decide to localize their existing content that was not originally written for localization. While there is essentially nothing wrong with this approach, the problem is that such content was primarily developed for the home market and that it includes various materials and references that may be irrelevant on the new target markets.
In cases of localization of the existing content, it is therefore essential to determine the real scope of localization by deciding what should be localized and what should be left out.
Writing for localization
Internalization can also be described as stripping the content from the local flavor.
In addition to avoiding any slang terms or terms specific for the home market and culture, it is also advisable to avoid references to any national laws, institutions or positions that would be irrelevant to the international audiences.
There are two main reasons for this: one is that the official translations for these elements usually do not exist and the other is that inclusion of such elements may confuse the target audiences and/or it may not be in accordance with the legal requirements of the target market.
In short, there is nothing to achieve here but an increased wordcount and another headache for the translators.
Note: This does not include references to EU, UN or any other international organizations or documents.
Taglines. Catchy phrases. Portmanteaus. Alliterations. Rhymes. Puns. It is almost impossible to imagine marketing content without these elements. The problem is that they usually work in one language and within one culture. They may lose their desired effect and color in translation or, even worse, they may send an ambiguous, offensive or simply wrong message to the target audiences.
While it would be easy to advise avoiding these elements when writing for localization, we also know that it would be impossible in most cases.
The solution for this is called transcreation, or creative translation of marketing phrases, a process designed to adapt the style, tone and purpose of the marketing message to the target market environment.
Of course, it is advisable to transcreate the essential marketing phrases at the early stages of content production as the transcreated versions may have an impact on how the rest of the content would be composed or formatted, not to mention that this will also speed up the localization process.
Remember that visuals and multimedia files require localization too.
Different languages and different scripts may also have different lengths, so designing the visual elements with the possibility of space extension is highly recommended.
Save your graphics, infographics and other files for localization in their native editable formats. CAT software can easily process this type of content, enabling the linguist and technical localization teams to do their job smoothly and efficiently.
Universal tips for writing for localization
- Be precise
Avoid ambiguities. Be careful with synonyms and avoid homonyms.
- Be clear
Avoid long sentences and stick to the purpose of the material.
- Be consistent
Use the terms consistently.
- Never forget that the quality of translation will always depend on the quality of source materials.