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Localisation consists of adapting a product, in this case software, to the specific linguistic and cultural characteristics of its various target markets.

The product, of course, originates in a specific market, but if it is intended for export, right from the design phase it needs to be stripped of all references or components that link it to the culture and customs of the local market. This first phase is called internationalisation and is carried out by the product developers. As translators, our task – apart from translation – involves the adaptation of local expressions and conventions (currencies, units of measurements, dates, titles, symbols, images, etc.) to give the finished text the same clarity and efficacy as the original. For example, some symbols commonly used in a number of countries may have completely different connotations in others, and may even be considered offensive. In addition to these elements, we must also consider any differences between the legal/regulatory systems and practices.

The software localisation service includes the translation, if possible in this order, of:

  • software strings
  • documentation
  • in-line guides

Translating software strings is a complex task, since they are short phrases, taken out of context, often unclear in meaning, which have to be of a preset length.  Such a project needs to be entrusted to a team of skilled translators, revisers and project managers, and managed with computer-aided translation (CAT) tools and specific glossaries that ensure full uniformity and intrinsic consistency across translations. Once the translation has been completed, the translated contents have to be compiled to allow full, thorough checking of the texts that appear on the screen. This check can be performed by the client, their contact on the target market, or by us here at interlanguage.

Once the software is completed, the next step is the acquisition and preparation of the screens to be incorporated in the documentation (user/installation manuals etc.).  Only at this point should manuals be translated, with great care taken to ensure the terminology used in the translation is the same as that in the screens contained in the documentation.

On completion of the documentation, the in-line guides are compiled.

The final stage in the software localisation process consists of functional testing of each component, covering formatting, keywords, cross-referencing and correctness of context.

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