Category Archives: translation

What are the languages iPhone supports for localization?

Languages iphone supports in iOS

UPDATED: June 4, 2013: We’ve got a full table of iOS languages and language codes to remove all the guess work!

UPDATED: May 3, 2012: Apple added 10 new languages! This post has been brought up to date.

Apple has already increased the languages iPhone supports to over 30 as of iOS 5.x:

English, British English, French, Italian, Spanish, Portuguese (Brazil), Portuguese (Portugal), Catalan, German, Dutch, Danish, Swedish, Finnish, Norwegian (Bokmål), Russian, Czech, Slovak, Polish, Croatian, Romanian, Turkish, Ukrainian, Hungarian, Traditional Chinese, Simplified Chinese, Korean, Japanese, Vietnamese, Arabic, Thai, Greek, Hebrew, Indonesian, and Malay.

Developers often ask which languages iPhone supports, but more critically, which languages should they support in their own iPhone apps? Obviously supporting all of Apple’s language choices above is costly and time-consuming, so you want to begin with the largest markets. An even more important consideration is that you’ll only be able to market your app effectively in the languages supported by App Store.

Yep, the iTunes App Store supports a different set of languages than the iPhone itself. Continue reading

Localizing Twitter vocabulary like “Follow” and “Tweet”

Localizing Twitter vocabulary and "words"How does the world say Tweet?

UPDATED: We’ve added lots more Twitter vocabulary and more languages in our iOS Localization Term Glossary!

Facebook succeeded in turning “Likes” into a noun and simultaneously revolutionized the speed at which we build social relationships and destroy grammar. What about Twitter?

Twitter has also introduced new “words” into English. Even for native speakers it is difficult to know how to use them. Stephen Colbert famously “twatted,” but the more popular past tense of “tweet” has settled upon “tweeted.”

For translators and localization engineers, words like “Follow” have become important for many applications. Instead of watching a discussion, we now follow it. But how should we translate Follow into the rest of the world’s languages?

TO TWEET OR TWITTER BY ANY OTHER NAME…

Here is a glossary of the most common Twitter vocabulary localized into some of the languages Twitter currently supports. This “cheat sheet” will be helpful for translators localizing websites and apps that want to maintain consistency with Twitter terms.

Twitter Glossary

Follow
Following 
Unfollow
Tweet
Retweet
Tweets
Mentions
Following
Followers
(verbs/buttons) (verbs) (nouns/lists)
Spanish Seguir
Siguiendo
Dejar de seguir
Twittear
Retwittear
Tweets
Menciones
Siguiendo
Seguidores
French Suivre
Abonné
Se désabonner
Tweeter
Retweeter
Tweets
Mentions
Abonnements
Abonnés
Italian Segui
Following
Smetti di seguire
Twittare
Ritwittare
Tweet
Menzioni
Following
Follower
Portuguese Seguir
Seguindo
Deixar de Seguir
Tweetar
Retweetar
Tweets
Menções
Seguindo
Seguidores
Russian (Твиттер) Читать
Читаю
Отмена
Твитнуть
Ретвитнуть
Твиты
Упоминания
Читает
Читатели
Japanese (ツイッター) フォロー
フォロー中
解除
ツイートする
リツイートする
ツイート
@ツイート
フォロー
フォロワー
Korean (트위터) 팔로우
팔로잉
언팔로우
트윗하기
리트윗
트윗들
멘션
팔로잉
팔로워
Chinese (Simplified) 关注
正在关注
取消关注
发推
转推
推文
提及
正在关注
关注者
Chinese (Traditional) 關注
正在關注
取消關注
推文
轉推
推文
提及
正在關注
關注者

Will tweet for food

This glossary was created by reading through Twitter’s pages in the target languages, but they aren’t perfect. There are cases where one Twitterism might work, and others where local grammar or common sense precludes a term. For example, note that “following” in English is translated in at least two ways for some languages, depending on whether it is the button (“I am following”), or a list of users you are following.

Use the comments to help keep this list updated. I’ll add any languages you need.


What’s wrong with a factory translation (“cloud translation”)?

Factory or online?

One question I’m often asked by software developers is why they should go with an independent translator or indie translation provider instead of the “big guys”—traditional agencies—or factory translation companies like icanlocalize or mygengo.

I can think of a million reasons, but here are my TOP 5

  1. Quality. Doing an outstanding job is everything to us. It’s our reputation and our livelihood.
  2. Accountability. When issues crop up—and they do in complex localizations—you can bet that an independent translator will listen to the problem and help you find a resolution instead of passing the buck.
  3. One price doesn’t fit all. If you think that all translations can be reduced to a single per-word rate, you’re fooling yourself. Factory translation companies make money with add-on pricing: it looks cheap but you end up paying more and more to get the quality you deserved in the first place. You always get what you pay for.
  4. Answers. Unless your question is listed in an FAQ, chances are a factory translation company won’t bother to help you. Indie translators will—every time.
  5. Because you care. You care about your software. You put a lot of work into it and you genuinely want people around the world to use it. Why would you trust your baby to a website?

How do today’s cloud translation companies compare?

Click to enlarge

The death of Traditional Agencies

I don’t talk a lot about traditional agencies, because honestly there isn’t a lot to say. They are outmoded and outclassed in the localization world: high prices, low quality and response time, and problems handling new localization formats. They don’t “get” software and they never will.

Your translation questions
answered
Independent Translators Factory (“cloud”) translations Traditional Agencies
Are the translators good? We’ve been working together for years. We do random checks, just like at the airport. Yes, and we replace them periodically with lower wage ones.
Who manages my project? The translator. An algorithm. A rotating menagerie of low-paid, overworked “coordinators”
Do you use a smartphone? For work and play. We see money! BlackBerry FTW!
Do you know what a Localizable.strings file is? “Yes” = “Sí, señor!”; Parse error. “Sí” = “Sí”.
Are you obsessive about quality? Always. Depends how much you pay. We’ll offer a discount on your next translation instead.
Personal one-on-one service? Email me right now. I dare you. How about one-on-zero? It depends how long before your coordinator quits.
Fast answers? Lightening fast. Did you read our FAQ? Let me get back to you.
Localization advice? Ask us anything. Did you read our FAQ? Let me get back to you.
Can I add new languages? We’re always ready for more. Did you read our FAQ? Yes, we make more that way.
Any format? If it’s got strings, we’ve got translations. Did you read our FAQ? Let me get back to you.

Disagree?

Tell me in the comments!

Google and Bing Team Up to Make One Bad Translator

If you haven’t checked out Bad Translator, you don’t know what fun you are missing.

Original text:

“I think I’ll use Google Translate to localize my website so that everyone can understand it.”

…50 translations later Google gives us:

“You know, if you use Google, I think all the ingredients.”

Bad Translator does something quite simple, but demonstrates a great point. It asks Google and Bing to translate a phrase from English into another language and back again. Repeating this process dozens of times is reminiscent of the “Telephone” game we used to play as children: whisper a few words into one person’s ear, repeat it to the next, and by the end of the line you get something totally wacky. Often, the results are hilarious.

But if you’re using Google Translate or Bing to translate your company website, the results are often less funny. You quickly lose control of your message and have no idea how you are presenting yourself to foreign audiences.

How much does website localization cost?

You have a website, and you have grown beyond just English speakers loving your content and buying your products. You want the whole world—or at least a few more amigos and comrades—to benefit from what you do.

Website localization is the answer, and website localization costs have never been lower. Let me explain how website localization costs are calculated and how to save money on localization for your site.

How to calculate website localization costs

Here is the simple formula:

Cost $.$$ = words x price-per-language

No matter which website localization company you go with, the bottom line depends upon how much text you have and which languages you choose. A solid number for budgeting purposes is $0.15/word, although the price will vary depending on the language, the complexity, and the services you need.

This will save you money.

Determining the word count of your website will quickly help you budget your project. You can paste your website texts into Microsoft Word and use its “Word Count” feature (available in the Tools menu) to get a fair idea of the size of your website localization project. Delete anything that is duplicated, like headers and footers and menus. This exercise will also force you to decide which pages of your website you want to localize. Often there is no need to translate everything.

In fact, there hardly ever is a good reason to translate everything. I always suggest localizing only the pages you expect a foreign audience to read. If you look at the localizations of the Babble-on site (www.ibabbleon.com), which is already in 12 languages, we chose to translate only the pages that a foreign audience would read. In our case, these were pages about translation services and copywriting in English. You certainly want your product and checkout pages translated, but perhaps your job listings and Help texts can wait. Cutting down the word count is the single best way to lower localization costs.

This will save you even more.

One of the most time consuming parts of website localization is not translation. It is making sure all the translated text appears in the right places in the HTML document. That is why it is important to go with a website localization company that understands the process. If you have your webmaster deal with inputting the files, you may save some money (unless your webmaster charges you by the hour). However, having the translator do this inputting helps ensure everything is put in the right place.

At Babble-on we use the latest website localization tools to make this process fast and accurate, and we pass the savings on to our clients. Make sure your preferred translator does the same.

Beyond budget

 

Localization is no easy task, and you want translators that are professional and knowledgable, ones that will tell you when something will be misinterpreted or misunderstood in their language. Besides budget, be sure to go with someone you trust and you can talk to any time and receive honest feedback. Check Yelp or other online reviews. Localization, after all, is not simply translation, but adapting text to a new audience with different sensitivities and needs.

Getting your site localized can be one of the best things you ever do for your business. It is relatively inexpensive and—assuming users in another country (or speaking another language in your own country)—are interested in what you do, you’ll gain back your investment tenfold in the long-run.

 

In which I explain how the word choice of developers affects translation and localization

Over the years, I have had the pleasure to work with many developers, some of them who have zealously taken it upon themselves to reinvent English grammar, design new forms of syntax and lexicon, or otherwise abuse the English language into a petrified shell of its former self. We all do this to some extent, and, in many cases, these developers have good reason to do so. However, translation and localization of anything other than the Queen’s English has its difficulties for users and translators alike.

These are some common issues we face as translators that developers are advised to keep in mind.

* As a disclaimer, these issues stem from translating English into other languages; using another source language would present yet other issues.

Word choice, not word AnythingYouLikeItToBe-ify!

Not a word, not a sentence — I care a lot about accuracy in translation, so one of the biggest show-stoppers for me is what we call the “untranslatable” phrases. Usually, this is stuff creative programmers and marketing gurus have pulled from out of their proverbial “backend,” and inevitably involves multiple words pushed together into one. Here I’m talking about things like:

  • SuperSelectiveSync
  • Re-undelete
  • Mysticgel

Unless you are Goethe, it is not recommended to combine multiple words into SuperAwesomeWords, even if you capitalize each one. Translators won’t know whether they should repeat your Germanization of the user interface, why it was done in the first place, and in some languages (Chinese, Arabic, etc.) it is not possible to do anyway. One typical resolution is to translate literally (i.e. “Sync that is very selective; Undo the delete command again”), but this often leads to confusing or just plain incorrect translations (“jelly of magic”?). This literal decoupling of words also results in very long translations that, in the English version, may have been purposefully shortened for whatever reason. Continue reading

Do translators use dictionaries?

Translators use dictionaries in the same way that doctors use the PDF (Physicians’ Desk Reference) and lawyers consult law libraries. There is always more information available than what is stored in the human brain. Sometimes you even just need a gentle reminder. :)

A translator fluent in two languages may never need to consult a dictionary to translate a simple text: a letter, a web page, etc. However, most good translators will ponder and rethink a few words on the page, especially key words and adjectives that appear in a text, in order to get the “best” choice. Interestingly, translators consult the thesaurus almost as much as the dictionary. Often we know what a word means, but we’re looking for just the right connotation in the target language. A thesaurus, in this case, can be even more invaluable than a dictionary. After all, which word would you choose to describe a sunset? Wonderful, magnificent, delightful, pleasing, brilliant, superb, fantastic, marvelous? Sometimes it’s helpful to consider your options for those final touches to convey the author’s style and intention more than relying solely on dictionary definition number one.

There are other tools that modern translators use. These include “translation memories” — glossaries built upon previous translations, as well as online sources. Modern translators tend to be “plugged in” to the Internet. There are websites such as proz.com and wordreference.com where translators discuss difficult or country-specific terminology. The sum of all these discussions is an invaluable treasure trove of language information that is often more useful than a standardized dictionary.

I am fond of saying that a good translator knows what he or she doesn’t know. You need to be able to spot phrases that might have a double meaning or an idiomatic reference so that you can consult the dictionary, the Internet and native speakers in order to find just the right meaning.

If you see a dictionary in a translator’s hand, it doesn’t mean trouble. It means the translation is about to get one step closer to success.