Localization, Localisation

Practical and concise answers to common questions in G11N, I18N and L10N

Posts Tagged ‘Quality Control’

Transcreation: Translation with Super-Powers!

Posted by Nick Peris on December 1, 2009

Transcreation is another concept which could easily be mistaken for a buzz word. In reality, it refers to vast areas of translation which have for ever been adapting content rather than simply translating it.
Like “Localisation” itself however, it seems to have been appropriated and reinvented by the Information Technology industry (2). So what do we mean by it and do methodologies really differ enough to warrant the use of this term?

Origins of the Concept

If you’ve grown up in an environment where English wasn’t the first language, chances are you have been exposed to transcreated content from a very young age. It may have been through entertainment, television, or advertising; most likely all of the above.

I never knew, nor did it matter to me, that Musclor was not He-Man’s real name. A more famous example of very liberal marketing translation is the story behind the Mitsubishi Pajero’s alternative name in Spanish-speaking countries. I’m also pretty sure that Smurf is not a literal schtroumpfation for Schtroumpf. Spider-Man: India seems a successful example of a multi-national company truly embracing a local culture.

This phenomenon does not only relate to the “Americanisation” of western-culture or even to the intense globalization of this century. Research (3) has shown that forms of Transcreation have been used in Indian poetry and religious writing, where form and content have always been adapted to some of the many cultures and languages of India.

There, is the key to Transcreation in my opinion: recognising the need to become part of a local culture rather than simply communicate in its language.
While translators always aim to reach out to their audience, the software industry often bounds them to the demands of technical content. Transcreation in its modern sense signals the releasing of these bounds, and gives the explicit brief to stray from the source message in favour a better way to communicate the same idea to the target audience.

Videogames Localisation

The term Transcreation is often attributed to Carmen Mangiron and Minako O’Hagan (1). They were among the first to use it in the context of IT, more precisely of the gaming industry.

They recognised the fact that with most games developed in Japan or the U.S., yet targeting truly global markets, there was an inherent need to free translators from the source text in order better connect to local gamers everywhere. In fact even some of the functionalities of games are sometimes adapted to the local culture: the amount of violence, explicit language etc. is not only changed to meet age ratings, but in cases to actually comply with the cultural and legal requirements of different regions of the world.

Countries such as Germany have laws which regulate video game content and manufacturers are faced with the choice of adapting their games or not being commercialised.

Advertising, Copywriting and SEO

The localisation of advertising, or copywriting is an area where the idea of Transcreation is also very apt.
While in a lot of cases translators are not copywriters themselves, they are given instructions to be creative with their work. Rather than just delivering the meaning in a grammatically correct manner, they have the task to also deliver in a form which creates the same reaction in the potential customer.

SEO (Search Engine Optimisation) copywriting and translation are a further extension of this, where the translator even has to select the words in a very strategic manner. SEO is of course more than just selecting keywords, but even this part of optimisation has to be translated in ways which achieve the best search engine rankings in the target languages, not the source.

Measuring Quality

But is all this really that progressive an idea? Aren’t all translators always trying to come up with the best possible translation anyway?

Things get complicated when you try to measure or monitor the quality of translations where the translators have been asked to stray from the source in order to convey a marketing campaign’s message in the best possible way.

This becomes a highly subjective exercise where chiefly, the client is right.

Here comes the next hurdle: localisation clients rarely have marketing staff in all the countries they market to. So vendors have to come up with processes which ensure that the product delivered meets those sometimes subjective requirements. This in my mind can only be achieved through a durable relationship between the clients and their translators/reviewers. Processes must transcend the limitations of the outsourcing model and recreate the fuzzy feeling of enlightened ownership once only common to the now endangered species of the in-house translator.

Such is the challenge of Transcreation: creative translation requires creative quality management.

References:

(1) Game Localisation: Unleashing Imagination with ‘Restricted’ Translation
Carmen Mangiron and Minako O’Hagan, Dublin City University, Ireland

(2) On the Translation of Video Games
Miguel Bernal Merino, Roehampton University, London

(3) Elena Di Giovanni “Translations, Transcreations and Transrepresentations of India in the Italian Media” (2008), in Klaus Kaindl and Riitta Oittinen (eds), The Verbal, the Visual, the Translator, special issue of META, 53: l. Les Presses de l’Université de Montreal, pp. 26-43.

Many thanks to Carmen for the tips.

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QA Distiller 7: Sanity Checks on Steroids

Posted by Nick Peris on November 17, 2009

QA Distiller is a great quality control tool I came across when I was working on the Marketing project I already mentioned in an article about XML in Localisation.
Developed and distributed by Yagamata Europe, this tool has a lot to offer to client-side engineers, multilingual vendors and freelancers alike. In fact I was even using it to enforce proper and consistent use of Terminology in source marketing content, before sending for localisation.

With the impending release of version 7 at the end of this month, I thought it was the perfect opportunity to talk about it on Loc Loc. The purpose of QA Distiller is to batch process quality checks on bilingual files. Essentially, it performs similar tasks to the QA Checker in Trados‘s TagEditor, but with some major differences.

The benefits

Multiple file processing: QA Distiller allows you to run a highly customizable list of checks on batches of files. There is no need to open of each individual TTX file, or run the QA Checker successively on each one. Just select the files to process, the settings to apply and run the tool to output a comprehensive report for your follow-up. This is a great way to control and enforce consistency across entire handoffs or projects. Translation quality, Terminology consistency etc. are simultaneously audited across all the files selected.

Multi-lingual processing: better yet, this can also be done across all languages at once, which is particularly powerful for controlling Do Not Translate instructions have been adhered to, for example.

Interactive reporting: the report output is another great selling point. It rates and classifies errors and lets you update it as you review and fix or discard candidate errors. It can be exported to a variety of formats where source, target and error details are summarised and categorised. This is very helpful to communicate with vendors on queries, as well as measure the quality od deliveries. Finally, the report has hyperlinks not only to the file, but to the actual segment where the potential error was detected. This makes the implementation of fixes really quick and easy. No more peeling your eyes out to find typos or endless finger-cramping Ctr+F session. If there is an error, QA Distiller will get you right there!

Software stability: my experience (version 6 in Windows XP) has shown very solid performance and compatibility, and certainly far less crashes than SDL’s QA Checker.

Some rare shortcomings


One of the limitations I found in the current version was that the Translation Consistency check did not work when running QA Distiller across several languages. Instead of reading the language code of each file and filtering the comparison, it reported the fact that translations differed from one language to the next. Not particularly helpful.

Secondly, although the pricing structure offers good choice, the full version seems a bit steep at €1000, especially since it also requires Trados to function on TTX files.

Additionnal Technical Information

QA Distiller supports all languages, and a variety of file formats: TRADOStag documents (TTX), FrameMaker RTF (STF), Translation Memory eXchange (TMX).
Terminology can be checked against proprietary-format dictionnaries (DICT) or the industry-standard Term Base eXchange (TBX).

The upcoming version 7 introduces:

  • Tag and ID-aware terminology checks
  • New Wrench icon funcitonnalities: batch correction of multiple quotation mark and number formatting
  • Fine-grained ignore option for improved noise filtering
  • Tag and case-independent consistency check
  • Full support for Georgian, Malay (Rumi and Jawi), Serbian (Latin and Cyrillic)

The little green man also told me that there are plans to add support for the many different XLIFF flavours like SDL XLIFF, MemoQ XLIFF, WorldServer XLIFF by the first quarter of next year.

For more details, check the cool demo at http://www.qa-distiller.com/movie/‏

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