In a previous post we discussed about translation and localization. To take this localization conversation little further, let’s talk shortly about one common term strongly related in localization. This term is software localization.
Software localization means translating a piece of software, like an smart phone application or a computer program, from one language into another. Usually any software like this consists of a bunch of hidden codes and pieces of visible text. In most cases only the text part is translated in localization projects. All the definitions related to localization applies also to software localization: all kinds of localization are combinations of translation and rewrite.
As compared to “normal” localization, from a translator’s point of view software localization requires not only language skills and knowledge of the culture but also some understandings of software and their structure. By this I mean that there can be some codes and other more or less technical stuff within or next to the text parts. These codes need to remain unchanged or otherwise the finished software won’t be able to run correctly. An experienced software translator is able to find and recognise the text which should be translated because human languages differ significantly from the computer languages. However software knowledge is something which is not closely related to translator’s core competencies and thus the requirement of these skills crucially limits the group of potential translators to a localization project.
This is why most translators would definitely benefit a lot if a localization tool is utilized in the software localization project. Localization tools are able to separate the text from the other software coding material. This way the translator won’t make crucial and expensive mistakes. By knowing this, the translator can fully concentrate on his/her translation and localization work. Likewise the software company can choose the translator with most relevant language skills and it don’t have to pick the one with best technical skills.