Localization, Localisation

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

Posts Tagged ‘Transcreation’

Localization & Language Laws

Posted by Patrick Wheeler on July 12, 2011

Do you speak Eskimo?

I decided to compile the following list of language laws that may be relevant to consider when localizing for particular markets. Some are industry specific (Medical Devices, Toys etc) and some are fairly generic pieces of legislation. My personal favourite being the requirement to localize to Inuit in Canada. Ok, fair enough, you’d have to be targeting localization towards a region of Canada (Nunavut) with a population of just over 33,000 people, and the scope is not all-inclusive, but hey, for some reason I find it amusing. 🙂 To clarify (post-feedback), my amusement stems from the consternation that can be caused on highlighting such lesser known pieces of legislation to the wider organisation. Not due to any perception on my part that such laws are “trivial”. Otherwise I wouldn’t go to the effort of including them in the list below.

Doubtless there are many other pieces of relevant legislation in various regions, so this list is by no means comprehensive and will be subject to future edits. This is just a first attempt to create a list of the known language laws and policies that may impact localization considerations. So if you should know of others, please comment and I will update the list as appropriate.

Click here for the latest “LANGUAGE LAWS” list by country and region

Certain pieces of legislation may not be relevant to language, so I have not yet included them in the list. However, regional legislation can certainly have a global impact. For example, data protection laws; European data protection directives need to be considered when sharing or hosting data internationally. Knowledge of these directives and their implementations at a local level are gradually coming into the mainstream as an increasing number of businesses move into the Cloud with SaaS offerings.

The European Commission provide standard contractual clauses that can be used when your company is dealing with data processors established in third countries (Countries outside the EU that are deemed not enjoy an “adequate” level of data protection). Basically these are contractual templates that can be used to ensure that an “adequate level of data protection” exists for the end-user and to protect your organization in terms of due-diligence. These clauses do not negate the requirement to make an end-user aware of where their data will be held and for what purposes it will be used, so prior and explicit user consent is still required. In particular, following a decision by the so-called “Düsseldorf Group”, German data protection laws (Bundesdatenschutzgesetz) now add another layer of complexity and a further set of requirements.

Naturally there is a great deal of flux around such policies in different regions, as government bodies rush to catch up with a Web 2.0 world where a growing number of people and organisations are trading goods and services internationally using a range of different mediums and platforms. These policies can be subject to change on a nearly daily basis, making it hard for businesses to keep track and ensure compliance.

Market focused rulings in certain regions can also have a broad impact on businesses. For instance, a sweeping statement from the Chinese General Administration of Press and Publication (GAPP) office back in late 2009 essentially put an end to any plans of western MMO Games producers with intentions of entering the Chinese market. The GAPP banned foreign investors from operating online games “in any form” within China. This decision came as a surprise even to the Chinese Ministry of Culture (MoC) who expressed shock upon hearing the news.

In summary, it is important for localization professionals not only to be focused on the technical aspects of their trade, but also to familiarize themselves with regional legislation relating to delivery of  software and services, both at a high level and pertaining to particular markets of interest, so that they can advise and provide direction on such matters within their organizations.

Localization - Language Laws

Language Laws

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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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