In the fall of 2013, NCTA members attended a unique workshop that led them through the challenges of localizing videogames.
BY PAUL LAMBERT
Presenter David Lakritz guides attendees through the challenges of game localization.
On June 22, 2013, the NCTA hosted a workshop on videogame localization in downtown San Francisco, and the event was a great opportunity for translators from the Bay Area to get an insight into this fascinating and growing field. Sponsored by Kilgray Translation Technologies, the event was run by David Lakritz, President and CEO of Language Automation Inc. With his experience and specialization in videogame localization, David was the perfect person to guide translators of all backgrounds through the pitfalls and peculiarities of this industry. → continue reading
In the absence of a predetermined agenda, participants create their own event, and a learning experience that continues beyond the conference.
BY RAFFAELLA BUSCHIAZZO
It’s April 27, we are in one of the spacious conference rooms on the salesforce.com premises in San Mateo; breakfast ranges from bagels with cream cheese to slices of fresh fruit and, of course, coffee and tea. It’s 8:30 am, people are arriving for the third annual Localization (l10n) Unconference in Silicon Valley. → continue reading
Translation and interpreting have a fascinating historical role in the development of empire and the postcolonial world. AN INTERVIEW BY THOMAS J. CORBETT
The work of Robert J. C. Young, Julius Silver Professor of English & Comparative Literature at New York University, concerns marginalized peoples and cultures. Postcolonialism: A Very Short Introduction devotes its final chapter to translation. Translation is seen not only as a colonial activity but also as a metaphor: transplanting England to New England, for example, is itself a form of translation. The interview began with an oblique question, a question that provoked a typically original and enlightening response from Professor Young. → continue reading
By Anna Schlegel
How do transnational companies maintain their brand integrity across the multiple localizations of their Internet presence? A case study from VeriSign.
To put the globalization challenge for VeriSign’s website in perspective, it is first necessary to understand that the firm protects, with digital certificates, the secure websites of a majority of companies that have a presence on the Internet. This means more than 750,000 web servers, including 93 percent of the Fortune 500. VeriSign operates the largest independently owned specialized network in the world, routing billions of connections from carrier to carrier—between protocols and across national boundaries. The company monitors 300 million retail transactions and delivers more than 200 million mobile-originated intercarrier messages and more than one million multimedia messages every day.
In 2003, VeriSign had just four international sites—in France, Germany, Japan, and the U.K.—in addition to its corporate website, supported by a single Global Project Manager. Today, the company has more than 18 international sites organized under a centralized global web operation, supported by five language service providers across the following countries: Australia, Brazil, Denmark, France, Germany, Hong Kong, India, Japan, Mexico, Norway, Singapore, Spain, Sweden, Switzerland, Taiwan and the U.K. The team has grown to include an international executive producer, developers, designers, a localization team and project managers in various geographical regions.
Starting at the bottom
Prior to my joining the company in 2004, VeriSign was using an array of consultants and tools to launch websites with little in-country support or dedicated international developers, as the company was not yet fully staffed internationally. Issues such as international tax, customs, and legal matters were not being addressed consistently (if at all), so appropriate content definition was a complex issue.
Upon my arrival I was told, “Look at what any of the global top five companies do and implement something similar. And, while you’re at it, choose and implement a global content management system (GCMS).” In other words, I had to start from scratch, developing a global website strategy, and virtually every one of its component parts, from budget, affiliates, and team resources to workflow automation and vendor management to localization, website maintenance, and, of course, buy-in from both corporate leadership and international management.
I determined that the best way to implement such sweeping changes was to ensure that my globalization strategy meshed with the business plans of both senior and line management. I attended many presentations at the director level and above, always making sure to ask the presenter how international needs and requirements figured into their plans; many times, of course, they didn’t. I presented executives with visual evidence of current and future pages in order to educate them on what was currently wrong with the various websites, and how they could be changed to support the VeriSign brand.
It took two and a half years, some burnout (the workload and strategic planning during this period were handled by just two staffers, one vendor, and no translation tools) and a lot of hard work to clean up everything and to gain management support to build a real team with a real budget. An enormous resource was the International Product Commercialization (IPC) Group. By joining this organization, I was able to have a voice in creating VeriSign’s global brand in terms of what the company could market and legally sell around the world.
Another important factor in our eventual success was creating a vision and mission statement for international operations, and continuously sharing it companywide at every opportunity. Our team set up glossaries and style guides, and I recruited as many allies as I could throughout the organization, focusing on the brand managers (who were key) and in-country personnel. Where positions weren’t filled, we used contractors. We built our budget dollar by dollar, until we could finally support the team that was required to carry out a globalization strategy appropriate for our company.
Keys to success
As proof of VeriSign’s success with our global website strategy, we saw the number of words processed doubled from 1.1 million to over 2 million between 2004 and 2006. In 2003, there were no stakeholders for this endeavor; by 2006, there were 14 major stakeholders actively engaged in the localization process. The number of countries supported jumped from seven in 2004 to 16 in 2006. Non-core language support now includes Arabic, Catalan, Chinese, Czech, Farsi, Finnish, Greek, Hebrew, Hindi, Hungarian, Japanese, Korean, Norwegian, Polish, Russian and Turkish. Infrastructure tools include glossaries and style guides in four areas: keywords, website buttons, products/services/descriptions, and a monolingual glossary to support translators. We recently launched an initiative to deploy a global content management system to replace the old, email-based system, with full approval from top executives.
As of the beginning of last year, our corporate site had 5.3 million unique visitors and 30 million page views. The international sites, including 10 in the EMEA region (Europe/Middle East/Africa) and two in Latin America, had 557,000 unique visitors and 2.7 million page views. While the corporate site has experienced a modest 3 percent increase in visitors and a 1 percent increase in page views year-over-year, the increases for the international sites were 74 percent and 41 percent, respectively! France was up by 288 percent, Switzerland by 139 percent and Germany by 122 percent.
37 percent of all traffic on VeriSign’s intranet is now generated from international offices, and 34 percent of the traffic on the company’s sales portal is from outside of the U.S. In terms of lead generation, 308,000 web leads were collected worldwide in 2006.
Along the way, our team took on responsibility for translation as well. Engineering depends on our team to provide guidance, and they share the same language service providers. Our team mandates the translation processes, QA processes, and more. There are now three Web Globalization Managers based in EMEA and some funding for usability studies in that region, as well as in Latin America and Asia-Pacific.
What has been responsible for the success of our team’s work? Perhaps the most important factor has been the engagement of the in-country marketing teams. By creating Service Level Agreements, providing tools and access for each region to request localized content, offering local training, preparing a glossary repository, and conducting frequent meetings with colleagues in the regions, our team members have been able to effectively integrate their goals and operations with those of corporate.
In carrying out our plan, our team learned a number of important lessons. These included, among others, the notions that globalization must be supported by top-level management; a vision and a mission for international operations are crucial, and must be integrated with the company’s corporate vision; metrics must be communicated through lead generation, chat forums, and the company’s support site; and tools must be tested before buying, based on client requirements—not those of the vendors.
As we launched more websites, our team focused on overcoming still new challenges, which encompassed the need for consistency across all sites, a sensitivity to audience diversity, attention to revenue and strategy, success metrics, regional representation, and doing more with less. Throughout it all, though, we were able to effectively demonstrate how centralized website localization builds the VeriSign brand through the creation of consistent positioning, messaging, and voice and tone—all of which, in turn, helped build brand awareness and recognition. Such efforts also protected the company’s brand assets through trademark protection, by means of proper content translation, and mitigated the company’s worldwide exposure by protecting the company’s key trademark assets.
A clear globalization strategy and execution supports international expansion as well, through the extension of product offerings on a global basis via acquisition and monthly IPC approvals. Simultaneous website launches and support of worldwide sales activity also contribute to this.
Maturing with our markets
As the U.S. market matures, VeriSign’s corporate management looks to international markets as the company’s new frontier for expansion. Building on our team’s success over the past several years, we are now concentrating on issues such as contained English (that is, engaging writers to reduce the amount of content they create), expanding in Asia, allowing more customization at the local level, and, as always, maintaining a high concentration on quality.
By Farah Arjang
On February 24th, four professional translators from the localization industry gathered at the Monterey Institute of International Studies to talk about their experiences in the localization industry. This session was one of the many in the roundtable series that Romina Marazzato, head of the Master of Arts in Translation and Localization Management program at MIIS, has been organizing to familiarize students and freelance translators with real world of translation and localization management.The presenters at this roundtable were Jean-François Vanreusel of Adobe, who works as an Internationalization Engineer, Moon Ju Kim, a technical translator and Project Manager at Apple, Lutz Niederer, a technical translator at eBay, and Stephan Lins, CEO of Medialocate.
Translation vs. localization
The translators first talked about internalization and localization as the most important aspect of globalization, and then they explained the difference between localization and translation. Translation is just translation, with no consideration for any local audience, whereas localization is modifying the translation so that it makes more sense to the local audience who are the eventual recipients of the translated document.Lutz of eBay takes pride in the localized German eBay website, whose success, he believes, is due to the company’s local translator in Germany—who is in contact with eBay in real time—and to the three to four times a year that Lutz travels to Germany for an update of the culture and language, as well as working in person with the local German translator.
In order to correctly incorporate all provisions when a program or web content is initially created, there needs to be a close relationship between the localization team and the software developers, programmers, or the original designers of the websites. When the format and the content in the source language are created, the programmers need to consider all the limitations that the target language translators might have in conveying the same idea in the same format. None of the four companies represented by the panel is currently using machine translation in localizing their websites or products, but they do use proprietary software programs for their translation memory.
To tackle some of the problems of localization before a program is developed, Adobe, for one, has a process called “pseudo” programming, in which a fake program goes through the process of translation to catch problems or issues such as the differences in the alphabet or use of a particular string that might arise in the real translation.“Sim Release” (simultaneous release) is another challenge for the localization team. Every product at Adobe, eBay, and Apple is released simultaneously around the world, which means extra pressure for the translators and the localization team, who always receive changes at the last moment. Software companies are now planning to sell their shrink-wrapped products online, which means yet more pressure on translators and localization teams.Translators also need to know the ins and outs of the product being localized. Jean-François pointed out that anyone localizing Adobe Photoshop is expected to know digital imaging and basics of photography; similarly, the translator working on Adobe InDesign localization should know the program well and be familiar with the basics of the publishing world.
Moon Ju Kim of Apple, a graduate of the Monterey Institute, talked about her experiences as a technical translator and project manager at Apple. While she agreed with most of the other speakers, she also could not emphasize enough the importance of communication among the translators working on the same localization project. Her advice on work ethic was to be a team player, have a problem-solving attitude, and be up for working in a fast-paced environment, as the localization industry is changing in large ways almost every day.
Lutz, in fact, was amazed at how much the industry has evolved over the past five years since he first started working at eBay, and added his advice to be multi-tasking, detail-oriented, and persistent in order to be a successful localization team member. His last word was “Believe in yourself and make the engineers or content writers develop the programs in a way that works for any other language!”
By Shweta Sathe
The “Northern” in Northern California Translators Association took on a special meaning when the Triple Certification seminar came to Chico in June. Among a few other NCTA members, Shweta Sathe attended these three days of intensive workshops, hands-on practice, videos, and lectures.
I developed an interest in localization after completing a full-fledged French-to-English software localization project as part of my Master’s coursework at Kent State University, and managing linguistic Q&A website translation projects at Peritus Precision Translations. In order to gain a deeper understanding of localization and internationalization, I enrolled in the Triple Certification course offered by California State University/Chico, GALA, and The Localization Institute.
In addition to the standard workshops, the course offered 46 hours of online instruction in the form of PowerPoint presentations, lecture notes, and videos of real-time lectures recorded in previous semesters. There were tests at the end of each instruction segment to make sure we actually internalized the material. The online setup was also helpful in connecting with other course participants ahead of time. I really enjoyed this opportunity since it triggered additional peer-to-peer exchanges. The workshops provided a unique platform for novices like myself to mingle with industry leaders and to exchange ideas and learn from each other.
From my perspective as a Project Manager, I found these sessions especially useful:
This session addressed the preparation of a localization toolkit, consisting of all resources and instructions such as source files, glossaries, translation memories, and locale-specific style guides.
Insist on clear communication and encourage people to speak up if there’s a problem. Everyone can have a bad day!
Start a project only when you get a final ‘approval’ or PO. This is applicable to translation vendors and freelancers.
Be proactive in identifying a problem before it occurs or find a solution and fix the issue RIGHT AWAY.
Prepare detailed budgets for translation, testing (linguistic & functional), DTP and multimedia, and translation memory creation and maintenance.
I would definitely recommend this certification program to anyone who wants to learn more about localization, meet great people in the field, or simply has an interest in languages and international business and wants to find out what it takes to work on the industry. For further information on next year’s coursework and registration procedures, visit http://www.csuchico.edu/localize/.
By Anna Schlegel
Jorden Woods is the founder and principal of Paradigms Consulting Group. He is recognized in the industry as a pioneer and leading authority on enterprise-class globalization strategy, content and application globalization technology, and multilingual issues. Jorden is also a successful Silicon Valley serial entrepreneur who has founded three IT-focused companies in the last decade, including GlobalSight Corporation, a company that pioneered the development of globalization management systems (GMS) for the Fortune 500. Jorden has consulted with companies including Apple, Cisco, GE/Global Exchange Services, HP, Mercury Interactive, Palm, PeopleSoft, Redback Networks, Samsung, VeriSign, and the World Bank.
How did you become involved in the globalization industry?
Interestingly, I became involved in the world of globalization when I moved overseas in 1993. It was at that time that I joined a British consulting company in Hong Kong. As Hong Kong was a bridge between the East and the West, the consulting staff was quite international, and in addition to various forms of English I also spoke a mix of Mandarin and Cantonese with my co-workers.
While at the company it became commonplace for me to collaborate on projects simultaneously with people from Hong Kong, Taiwan, Australia, the UK, the U.S., Germany, and Scandinavia. Working with these cross-cultural teams across many time zones was amazingly exciting!
As the firm entered the China market, we began to actively localize our marketing materials, both for printed collateral as well as for the website we put up in 1995.
What was the vision that led you to found GlobalSight? What did people know about Global Content Management Systems?
My experiences in Hong Kong provided me in part with the inspiration to found GlobalSight. Being both entrepreneurial and international, Hong Kong was a perfect environment for nurturing a desire to start an internationally focused business.
When I returned to the U.S. from Hong Kong in 1996, my wife and I saw the web as a great opportunity for starting our own business. My vision for GlobalSight was to create a company that would provide the world with the best solutions to minimize costs and maximize the benefits of web globalization. Initially we were more service oriented, but over time we became focused wholly on core infrastructure and processes and less on the actual websites and web applications themselves.
In the early days, 1996-97, companies did not really understand the concept of purchasing software for websites. They tended to believe that they could do everything themselves using scripts and inhouse tools coded by their own IT people. The idea of global content management, let alone content management, was considered very sophisticated by all but the most advanced sites.
In 1997-98 there were raging debates about the ultimate importance of the web, the need for multiple languages in international web sites, and the benefits of centralized versus decentralized development. It was not until 1999 and afterward that content management began to penetrate the corporate world.
Today, most companies are familiar with content management, and so now when they hear about global content management they tend to see it as the next evolution of a system they already have.
What do corporations not understand about globalization?
Unfortunately, though corporations understand that globalization is important, they do not understand that globalization is very complex and demands strategic initiatives that involve the entire company in order to be successful. Too often, globalization is seen as either a tactical initiative or something that can be delegated to a group to perform.
Successful globalization requires a finely tuned plan that simultaneously integrates the entire organization, its technological infrastructure, and its processes. Globalization by its very nature must touch and penetrate every aspect of the corporation in order for it to reach its true potential.
As corporations rarely provide their employees with education and training in globalization best practices, most globalization initiatives do not meet their stated goals.
What is your advice for freelance translators?
My advice for freelance translators would be twofold. First, stay abreast of the latest technology and second, find an area of specialization that can create a differentiator. In short, develop an edge that can increase both your chance of gaining quality opportunities as well as guaranteeing higher pay.
What are you reading these days?
I tend to read quite a mix of books, but I love history, cross-cultural relations, and science, and so gravitate towards books that incorporate these elements. Recently I have read Robinson Crusoe, The Da Vinci Code, Don Quixote, The Three Musketeers, and The Commanding Heights.
By Raffaella Buschazzio and Peter A. Gergay
Getting Started in T&I
On October 15th, NCTA welcomed over 50 people to our workshop, “Getting Started in T&I.” Norma Kaminsky, an M.D. and an ATA-certified English-Spanish translator in medical, pharmaceutical, and other health-related subjects, opened the workshop by sharing basic concepts for beginning translators, presenting the pros and cons of working for agencies, direct clients, and in-house, and the resources translators need, from office space to computers and software, to a well-stocked library.
Jacki Noh, a Korean translator/interpreter specializing in a variety of fields, continued the workshop by focusing on interpretation. She began her presentation by underlining how essential it is for an interpreter to be truly bilingual and bicultural, and to have intellectual curiosity. Then she explained the distinctions between modes and types of interpretation, going into detail on how to become a court and healthcare interpreter.
The workshop ended with a presentation by Karl Kaussen, founder and proprietor of Biotext LLC. Dr. Kaussen focused on the translator-agency relationship, providing useful advice on how to be competitive, how to build up a good reputation among agencies, and how to discuss rates – a ticklish question and not only for newbies in the field! R.B.
Introduction to Software Localization
Some 40 NCTA members attended an informative “Introduction to Software Localization” seminar on October 29th, led by Angelika Zerfass, a recognized leader in the industry. Ms. Zerfass spoke about the concept and practice of localization (l10n) currently sweeping the translation market. She defined localization as “the process of adapting a product or software to a specific culture or geographical area so that the translation flows naturally to the users in that particular region.”
Ms. Zerfass emphasized the need to have a valid localization plan, a project structure, and access to current and valid files, to counter the many things that may go wrong in the areas of templates, translation memories, abbreviations, and more, sometimes due simply to plain inattentiveness to seemingly minor but essential details.
Our shrinking world and an ever-expanding global marketplace clearly point to localization as the wave of the future – something, Ms. Zerfass indicated, that many good translators have been doing in their work already, without being aware of the formal name of the process. P.A.G.
By Anna Schlegel
Silvia Campos is an International Web Manager at VeriSign, a company that delivers intelligent infrastructure services. A native of Brazil who has been living in the Bay Area for the past eight years, she has more than five years of experience in the localization industry: as a translator, as a project manager for a translation agency, and now on the client side with VeriSign. Silvia is fluent in Portuguese, English, and Spanish, and she is now learning French. She has a master’s degree in business from San Francisco State University.
What are the responsibilities of an “International Web Manager”?
SILVIA CAMPOS: My job is to manage the ongoing maintenance and production of content for our international websites as well as translations, vendor and stakeholder relationships, and in-house reviews. I work with cross-functional teams (content partners, design, legal, developers, engineers, and QA) to implement site changes across our websites. When working with the different teams I need to ensure that the site gets built according to specification, on time, and on budget. I am also responsible for analyzing site traffic and data, evaluating user surveys, and participating in user testing. Finally, I need to make sure that we integrate the corporate brand strategy on the international sites through both visual and messaging.
Where does your passion for languages come from?
I always liked languages, but I guess it really started when I moved to the U.S. in 1997. I was living in a hotel for international students, a type of residence common in San Francisco. There, I met people from all over the world and thus was exposed to numerous languages and cultures. I was fascinated by them: all the differences and the common ways of life of my fellow international friends. Learning languages, visiting countries, and experiencing the different cultures became my passion.
How did you get your start in the translation business?
I started teaching Portuguese to Americans and doing occasional translations. These became more frequent and more complex, and because of my medical background I began doing a lot of medical translations. I was also doing voiceover work and interpretation. I landed a job at a dotcom company as a full-time translator, but later my responsibilities increased and I became the localization project manager.
Please describe your ideal translator and localization manager.
My ideal translator is reliable, available, flexible, and up to date on current issues. He or she is passionate about languages and cultures and is a native speaker of the target language. The ideal project manager is always on top of things, is detail oriented, has great interpersonal skills, and is pleasant to work with. Additionally, he or she is fluent in at least two languages.
Do you find that language – and language professionals – are becoming more important and visible in U.S. Companies?
Absolutely. As the Internet became popular over the past decade, local companies in many countries started to create their own sites offering products and services in the local language. This gave them an edge over U.S. companies; they had broken the language barrier. But as American companies began to see the need for localized sites, the importance of language professionals in this country grew drastically. Today, we know that a U.S. company wishing to succeed in other cultures must offer its products and services – as well as its website – in the target country’s language.
How does English influence other language localization?
The high-technology industry and the Internet are relatively new, so many of the terms pertaining to these fields were created in the U.S. and never translated, making the English language pretty common in a lot of the localized materials. In addition, a lot of times companies don’t translate product and service names because of corporate branding policies that dictate that names must remain the same; sometimes they even keep acronyms that don’t mean anything in a foreign language.
What are the major challenges facing corporations today?
Companies face challenges at all levels: from the day-to-day management of localization requests to the coordination of strategic localization initiatives. These days, it is no longer acceptable to offer older versions of products in foreign markets; the Internet-connected buyer is well informed and wants the latest version of products that are being sold in the company’s home market. Because of that, companies now must keep up with the demand for accurate and up-to-date information in all the markets in which they offer products – a huge and expensive effort. Conversely, in order to be competitive in foreign markets, companies need to reduce their globalization costs, but without affecting the quality of their localized content. It is a delicate balancing act.
What was the most difficult translation challenge you’ve faced in your own work?
It was probably when I first started as a translator. I had to localize a collection of children’s books to Brazilian Portuguese, and I was given a very tight deadline. There were a lot of words not found in the dictionaries, words that only children and parents know about. For a starter, it was a tough one.
What you are reading now about the localization field?
I’m reading Business Without Borders by Donald A. DePalma.
By Anna Schlegel
Almut Wolf is a Localization Manager at Lucent Technologies for Unified Messaging products, where her group manages the release of ten languages per software release cycle, supporting a portfolio of voice messaging, speech messaging, text-to-speech, Voice-XML, and video messaging services. Almut started at Lucent in 1997 as product localization lead and was quickly promoted to localization manager. Following reorganizations, she transitioned into the role of project management and spearheaded the language development effort in speech technology. Prior to joining Lucent, Almut was a college lecturer for French and German at the Monterey Institute of International Studies, Santa Clara University, and the State University of New York (SUNY) at Albany, as well as a freelance translator and tutor.
Where did you grow up and what brought you to the States?
ALMUT WOLF: I grew up in a small town close to the city of Köln in Germany. Throughout high school and university studies, I pursued two disciplines: the study of foreign languages—French literature in particular—and business administration. After a year of studies in literature at the Sorbonne in Paris, I returned to Germany to study business administration. Through a well-regarded exchange program between the university in Würzburg, Germany, and SUNY/Albany, I started my life in the United States. What was originally intended to be a one-year exchange grew into a permanent relocation, allowing me to earn my MBA and consequently PhD degree in French studies. It was only after I started working for Lucent in the Bay Area as localization specialist did I feel that the two fields of my studies were solidified into one career.
Were you always interested in localization? How did you start?
I was always interested in both foreign languages and international business, long before I knew about the concept of localization. Working within a large team at Lucent—composed of language specialists, QA engineers, software developers, and audio engineers—made me understand how an English-based product and software model needs to be modified to fit the structure of a foreign language. The initial product introduction at a customer site happens through the language interface, which implies a high quality mandate for our group.
Should the localization function be centralized under engineering or marketing?
Localization groups are often associated with only one of these disciplines, although I consider the ideal fit as being closely affiliated with both. At Lucent, our team is part of R&D and applications development, and thus closely tied into the software release cycles. While having the advantage of working with architects to incorporate language and localization needs into the conceptual stages of product development, it is also desirable to work closely with the marketing division, to ensure that customer preferences are addressed in technical solutions. We currently strive to leverage both groups through well-defined processes as well as through an emphasis on product management as a key mediator. Service providers worldwide are technically savvy and demanding, and in the development stages, the language team works directly with the customer representative to discuss terminology, concepts, idioms, and linguistic demands of the locale.
What localization challenges do U.S. corporations face today?
I think there is still a huge misconception within industry of the work that localization specialists do: managing content, maintaining glossaries and style sheets, creating linguistic specs, implementing a versioning system, striving for accuracy and consistency, and implementing a rigid quality assurance process are only a few essentials of a localization process. One of the challenges that corporations face is thus continuing to better understand the process.
Another challenge is combating the skepticism voiced by international customers as to whether a U.S. corporation is able to understand the language needs of a particular country or region. We have heard this concern many times and it is helpful to work with the customer directly on some language-related issues to dispel their doubts (with a review of terminology, for example, or a demo of a prototype).
Most U.S. corporations build and develop products that are envisioned through the demands and needs of the U.S. market. “Going global” consequently implies taking the base English product and localizing it for foreign markets. Global companies may, however, decide not to begin with an English-based development, but design products directly for an international market by incorporating the demands and idiosyncrasies of that locale into the very design of the product. Early collaboration with a localization expert offers turnkey localization, higher quality, and easier customer acceptance.
How do you stay current with the latest trends in globalization?
I use mostly two sources to stay current: online literature and talking to other professionals. Fortunately, there are a great number of organizations and associations that allow people to network and stay informed on new technologies and trends.
What is the coolest localization project you have worked on?
Lately I have been in charge of an innovative messaging application using speech recognition technology. The foreign language user is expected to interact with the system through spoken commands, enunciated in natural speech. It is fascinating to research the underlying rules of grammar, structure, and phonetics to achieve an optimal recognition rate despite speaker variation due to accent and profile.
By Anna Schlegel
Tiziana Perinotti is the founder of TGP Consulting and creator of the award-winning Silicon Valley Localization Forum website and services. She has over 15 years of successful software development and product marketing experience with companies such as Olivetti, Microsoft, PowerUp! (acquired by The Learning Company), Radius, Verity, and Palm Computing, to name a few.
In 1996, she founded TGP Consulting and helped the original founders of Palm Computing (also founders of Handspring) develop what it is now the very successful Palm handheld. Tina has developed and offered training and courseware material for end enterprises as well as freelance translators and translation companies.
Where did you grow up, and when did you come to the U.S.?
TIZIANA PERINOTTI: I was born and raised in Turin, northwest of Milan, near the Italian Alps. I developed a desire to move to the U.S.—Silicon Valley, in particular—when I was in college. So, as a student in Turin, I decided to travel and take communication and other computer summer courses in the U.S. during my visits to an old uncle who used to live in Pittsburgh.
How did you start in the localization field?
Right after my Computer Science degree and Masters in Linguistics, I was recruited by Olivetti, the large computer conglomerate located in Ivrea, near Turin, Italy. At the time, Olivetti was very active in the research field of software office automation, not just for the stylish typewriters the company was manufacturing, but also for the first PC lines.
There was a need to localize Olivetti Italian hardware and software products into English-ready products for all English-speaking markets around the world. In 1997—when the joint venture/OEM project between Olivetti and Microsoft was established—I was sent to Microsoft headquarters in Redmond, Washington, to work on Windows 2.0 and the Windows version for the first 386 machines. We developed all the device drivers for Olivetti that were included in Windows and completed the first localized versions (Dutch, French, German, Italian, Portuguese, Spanish, and Swedish).
What localization challenges do corporations face today?
The mantra “fast and cheap” localization has reached new levels, and the challenge is how to add “quality” to that equation in a process that has outsourced all skills, including engineering, testing, management, and customer support. Cultural and communication barriers among the product team members located in very different locales are another big challenge as well as a lack of training for IT, engineering, customer support, marketing/sales, and project management staff to be able to operate at the best of their abilities in a stressful, multi-cultural environment under strict deadlines.
What are the new trends you see in localization?
Because of the new challenge of introducing products less expensively, more and more localizers are relying on machine translation tools, online terminology tools, and project management tools to expedite the localization process and achieve consistency. Localization has also expanded beyond the traditional computer and electronics industry; for example, biotech, pharmaceutical, medical device companies, and the government are in need of more localization.
How does English influence other language localization?
In the U.S., in general, my experience has been that corporations tend to be biased towards the English language. Products still tend to be first architected and developed in an English context, before they go through some internationalization process. Part of the problem is that we ask engineering to make certain product development decisions that would be better made by professionals who have the training and experience of designing for a global audience. The outcome of this approach may be a poorly localized product and unsatisfied customers who are forced to use an English-based product with a translated user interface that is less than optimal for them. This is an obvious cost to the company in terms of missed sales revenues and market opportunities.
Have you experimented with machine translation?
Yes, since the very beginning of my career I have used and tested many tools and systems, from the most sophisticated to the very basic ones. I am very pleased with the progress and advancement in this field, and other areas such as voice recognition and search and retrieval engines; all the signs are there that these tools will become better and better and employed in more aspects of our life.
What would you like to see changed in localization?
The mentality, meaning that when corporations need to cut their budgets, one of the first things they drop off their priority list is internationalization and localization. That’s a symptom of not understanding the investment opportunity and added value of the internationalization and localization product cycles.