LocalVersionは、2003年にToni RoviraとEduard Simónにより設立されました。Toni RoviraとEduard Simónは、1990年代半ばからAppleの
Machine translation (MT) can still be defined as the holy grail of computational linguistics. While undeniable that this discipline has seen a significant progress in the last decade (especially with the introduction of statistical methods), translation between morphologically-rich languages remains an extremely challenging task.
Since MT engines translate texts without the aid of professional translators who can discern the nuances and influence of context, it is important to understand that the accuracy and appropriateness of the results is far from being guaranteed. Human language is full of ambiguities, exceptions, plays on words, subtle expressions, mistakes, and logical associations that computers cannot handle.
Machine translation always returns a translation result for any given source text, sometimes one that is useful, very often one that does not fit the context, and in some cases even a direct copy of the source text (whenever the translation cannot be resolved). It is not unusual that the translation and the source text mean exactly the opposite.
All this said, there are good things to say about machine translation. In certain scenarios, it can be sufficient to get an imprecise translation that reveals what the text is about without everything being translated correctly. And, sometimes, it can be more important to get some result without delay than to get a reliable translation, particularly if it is for personal or internal purposes only.
Machine translation can also improve productivity when translating short or simple sentences professionally, as long as: (1) the MT engine is not generic but customized for a specific field or product; (2) MT is used in conjunction with professional translation memories, which provide far more reliable matches and savings; and (3) only if the MT results are post-edited carefully by human experts.
If, as it is the case, the results obtained with machine translation are not good enough for your commercial products or marketing materials in English, do not forget that your foreign users also expect your products to be written as carefully and professionally in their own language.
Companies considering using machine translation should spend a reasonable amount of time evaluating its capabilities and limitations, and assessing its customized implementation in their daily workflow. At LocalVersion, we keep up to date with the latest trends and technology development in order to improve our costs and efficiency, and with the final aim of transferring these advantages to our clients.
Localization is the process of adapting a product or service to a particular language, culture, and desired local "look and feel".
In our field, localization is the adaptation of a software product, together with its user documentation, for use in one or more regions of the world.
Localization of software can include translating user-interface text, resizing text-related graphical elements, and modifying images and sound to conform to local conventions. In localizing a product, in addition to idiomatic language translation, such details as time and date formats, paper sizes, measuring units, number formats, character sets, money, default font selection, product or service names, and geographic examples must all be considered.
A successfully localized service or product is one that appears to have been developed within the local culture.
Localization is, first of all, a tool that helps in the sale of the product. But software and web localization are technical and complex tasks requiring the cooperation of different professional roles. Not only linguists, but also localization engineers, testers, graphic designers, internationalization experts, project managers...
It makes perfect sense to outsource that to a specialized team in order to make sure that project goals (budget, schedule, and customer satisfaction) are not missed.
Delays and mistakes are not just financially costly; they can damage a company’s reputation.
Localization is not particularly expensive, but like with restaurants, hotels, doctors or lawyers, your favorite translation partner will probably not be the cheapest one.
Professional translators earn 25% below average salaries in Western countries. When clients put excessive pressure on rates, they are actually choosing to work with localizers who earn even less than that, which leads to high risks of wrong translations, poor style, miscommunication, or even legal issues.
Accurate, specialized translations demand much more time and expertise than bad translations or easy, generic jobs. If your English texts are clear, natural and carefully written, your foreign users expect exactly the same in their own language.
So, you want to sell more. Great! You have invested a lot in creating your products and they have the potential to sell more around the globe. The non-English speaking markets are huge and growing fast. Globalization is one of the biggest business opportunities today and in the years to come.
Yet, localization can be intimidating. It might involve an uncertain amount of work on your side, plus you have to market your products, support your end users... The ROI is hard to predict. Then, all those translation companies seem to use the same marketing blurb. They all promise “quality” but what does that mean, and does it really matter? And why are their prices so confusing (word rates, fuzzy matches, additional fees) and so different from one another? Is a €0.15 word rate fair, cheap or expensive? And how am I supposed to tell if a translation is excellent and will help me sell more or if it is horrendous and will ruin my reputation?
Choosing your translation partner is not an easy job. You can certainly tell if a text is well written in your native language, but not in foreign tongues. By looking at a company’s web site, you can get some idea about how good their web designers or their web budgets are, but that does not necessarily reflect how reliable the company is and whether it is the right provider specifically for you. Serious, professional translators only work in a couple of well delimited areas where they are really seasoned experts. If a translator or company claims that they can translate “anything,” that is a clear sign that you can expect all kinds of issues. But since translation buyers often cannot tell a professional translation from a dangerous one (understandably), some vendors are marketing their services as “cheap” when they are actually very expensive considering what you get in return.
The table below summarizes a range of services offered today by different translation companies and common word rates for each. Prices will vary by language, volume and complexity, but it can give you an idea. Each service can make sense for some specific purposes. The questions are: What service do YOU need? What costs are competitive? Why?
Columns show who performs the first-pass translation. Rows show how that first-pass translation is then reviewed. For example, in the market you can find translations done by a native speaker and then reviewed by a second person at €0.07 to €0.11 per word. A highly specialized translation done by a senior specialist, reviewed by a second specialist and then proofread can cost €0.18-0.23 per word.
Note that these are not our rates, but common rates that you can find in the market offered by different types of providers. At LocalVersion, we only focus on services involving native, senior translators specialized in some specific fields (software localization, technical documentation, Apple products, information technology, web contents, and related marketing and legal materials). Here our rates are extremely competitive, since we are a relatively small and committed team of specialists, and practically all your money goes straight into the pockets of your localizers.
|Machine translation or translation by non-native speaker||Translation by native speaker||Translation by native, junior translator||Translation by native, senior translator||Translation by native, senior specialist|
€ 0.00 / 0.05You may get the gist of what a text is about. Most sentences will be strange, wrong, ugly and/or dangerous.
€ 0.03 / 0.07The easy parts may be understandable but the translation will be very poor, literal and full of errors. It may be understandable for sentences that are very easy and if style is not a concern.
€ 0.06 / 0.11The easy parts may be acceptable but the style will be poor, literal and with errors due to inexperience. It may be an option for easy, non-specialized translations if errors and poor style are acceptable.
€ 0.09 / 0.13The translation should be okay if the text is not specialized. There will be some errors, mistranslations and inconsistencies here and there that a good reviewer would spot and fix.
€ 0.11 / 0.15The translation (highly specialized field) should be good. There will be some errors, mistranslations and inconsistencies here and there that a good reviewer should be able to spot and fix.
€ 0.07 / 0.11It makes little sense to review a translation if the translator was not a qualified professional. The quality would still be poor.
€ 0.09 / 0.14The reviewer will fix a few errors but the style will still be poor and there will be translation issues, particularly if the text is specialized or not very easy.
€ 0.13 / 0.17The translation should be correct in general if the text is not specialized. There will be some errors and mistranslations if the field requires specialization.
€ 0.16 / 0.20The translation should be excellent. There might be some minor issues if not proofread.
€ 0.15 / 0.20The translation should be reliable.
€ 0.18 / 0.23The translation should be excellent and error-free.
So, for example, is a €0.15 word rate for French expensive? What hourly rate would that be?
Typically, if an agency charges €0.15, around 50-60% will go to the translator(s), 20% will go to the reviewer(s), 10% will pay for project management, tools and infrastructure, and 10-15% will be the agency’s margin (7-10% after taxes).
Professional translators translate on average 1,800-2,600 words per day. This varies greatly depending on the complexity of the texts and on how important style is (marketing texts and highly specialized documents are much slower to translate). A good translator can be busy translating around 75% of the time on average, so they will translate about 380,000 words a year. If they are paid €0.075 per word, they will earn €28,500 in a year (gross). After taxes, this is reduced to €17,000-22,000. They should still deduct what they spend on computers, tools and everything they need to do their work. So that senior, busy, English to French translator will earn around €19,000 a year. This is 25-30% below average disposable salaries in France or Canada, in spite of the fact that good translators typically have at least one university degree and 8+ years of professional experience. Rates in other languages are often lower.
So, when clients put excessive pressure on word rates, they may not be aware but they are in fact asking for their localization “experts” to earn less than €13,000-16,000 a year. Chances are high that those translations end up being assigned to "cheap", junior translators who will rush to translate as many words as possible, with little care and very poor results.
In 2008-2012, average translation rates and salaries fell, as in many other industries. Some percentage was due to the law of supply and demand. But most of the fall was due to the fact that the quality offered in return decreased dramatically (non-professional translators, dropped QA steps, more literal and robot-like translations that are confusing or misleading and do not make for a good brand image, etc.). This is probably understandable for some tiny start-ups with a very small audience and budget, but for well-established companies, the relatively small savings in translation costs can badly affect the brand image and lead to poorer sales and customer dissatisfaction.
To sum up, when comparing translation rates, it is important not to compare apples to oranges. If your budget/sales are extremely low, you still want to offer your products in other languages and quality is not a concern, you can probably find some cheap alternative, keep your fingers crossed and hope to be lucky. If you are a successful company and you plan to sell more than a few copies of your localized products, you will want to offer the same good image and quality in your localized products as you offer to your English-speaking users, so you will want to work with a senior, professional team specialized in your particular field. The localization costs will be a bit higher, but they will still be a fraction of what it will mean in terms of international sales, brand image, and customer satisfaction.
- Reliable, specialized translators and localizers are hard to find, expensive, and often busy. More than 90% of the people who claim to be translators would not pass the selection process of a good agency. And even excellent translators can miss deadlines, or perform inconsistently if their work is not proofread. A team adds capacity and services, and offers quality consistency and coordination, often at a lower cost.
- A common mistake when first evaluating localization costs is to consider external rates as the determining factor, instead of measuring the overall cost of the project, and considering both external and internal costs (selecting, training, coordinating, and supervising the professionals, buying equipment and tools, etc). What is more important, the return on the investment is what really matters from a business perspective, and time-to-market plays a basic role here, as you know well.
- Software and web localization are technical tasks requiring the cooperation of different professional profiles. Not only linguists, but also engineers, testers, graphic designers, internationalization experts, project managers... It makes sense to outsource that to a specialized team to make sure that project goals (budget, schedule, and customer satisfaction) are not missed.
- Translation and localization are very dynamic industries. New tools and practices quickly outdate the existing ones. Professional advice can save you a lot of time and money through automation, workflow optimization, and customized solutions.
A product that has been localized properly has the look and feel of a product originally written and designed for the target culture. Here are just some items that, aside from language, have to be considered in order to effectively localize a product or website: measuring units, number formats, time and date formats, paper sizes, fonts, default font selection, case differences, character set, tables for sorting, local regulations, currency conversion, taxes...
The standard localization process includes the following basic steps:
- Analysis and evaluation of the necessary resources and tools, based on the material received.
- Creation and maintenance of terminology glossaries; cultural, technical and linguistic assessment.
- Text translation, review by a second linguist, and proofreading to ensure quality and consistency.
- Resizing of the user interface.
- Localization of graphics, movies, scripts or any other media containing visible text and user interface.
- Documentation layout.
- Compilation and build of the localized files for testing.
- Linguistic and functional quality assurance.
- Project delivery.
Depending on the project size and complexity, this process may require the coordination of multiple professionals: project managers, translators, proofreaders, engineers, desktop publishers, and testers.
- In your field, we offer perfect results, a great service, and costs that are significantly lower. Because our organization is small and agile, we do not charge you for heavy structures, management and administrative overheads, margins, sales representatives and marketing campaigns, or services and languages that you will never need. Give us a try and you will be surprised.
- Even if you come to us through one of our satisfied customers, as is often the case, we understand that you feel some risk in working with a localization company that you do not know. That is why we will do anything that helps you feel comfortable and confident from the very beginning, like working on some small pilot translation project or sample free of charge; giving you real-time visibility on the status of your project so that you have control over it at your convenience; offering you introductory discounts so that you can have the first translation jobs revised externally if you want; telling you about our customers and references; showing you the profiles of the professional localizers who will manage your specific projects, etc.
By following a few recommendations, web site designers and software developers can ensure that their products are ready to be adapted to international markets, and thus guarantee a smooth, painless and cost-effective localization process.
Here are some examples.
- All user interface elements should be isolated from the source code.
- User interfaces and layouts must be flexible enough to accommodate text expansion. Text may expand by as much as 100% when translated. It's also a good practice to allocate text buffers dynamically, when possible.
- If the same string is used in different contexts, try to make multiple copies of it to allow for different translations.
- Word order varies with the language, so it's better not to create text messages dynamically at runtime, by using for instance multiple insertion parameters or concatenating strings. In general, no assumptions should be made about how each language combines words and interprets information.
- It's a safe practice to document non-obvious features and non-standard configurations that have to be tested at runtime.
- If information that must not be translated is grouped separately, it will be easier to leave out this information in the localized version.
- As for graphics, you might prefer to use generic icons and images that do not require localization. Translating text in bitmaps and icons can be time-consuming. If you use images with overlaid text, the workload will be less if you deliver layered files, details of fonts used and other specifications to your localization provider.
Absolutely not. Once we have localized the first version of your software, the update process is very simple.
There are two possible scenarios.
- You take care of the update process on your side and send us the new or updated strings for translation.
- In this case we will act as your translation team and simply send you the requested strings in your preferred format and all necessary languages. Your quote will be based on the number of new words to be translated.
- You want us to take care of the whole update process: find any diffs in your NIBs, XIBs, STRINGS, XLIFFs, etc.; and then update all your languages to match your new source version.
In this case we will be acting as your localization engineering and translation team. We will use our professional tools to leverage all the work done in the previous versions, and we will identify all the translation and engineering tasks required to update all your languages. Just send us your new uncompiled English.lproj folder, and we will soon get back with your localized and fully tested .lproj folders.
In both scenarios, you will benefit from the customized Translation Memories that we maintain for each client. If a certain string has been translated before anywhere in your software, it will be leveraged automatically, thus improving consistency and minimizing the cost.
Do you want to learn more about our tools and processes?
Please, send a note to us at info at localversion dot com
First of all, never forget that if your company offers some good, exportable products and they are only available in English, the cost of translating your product information is probably MUCH less than the cost of not translating them or translating them late or inaccurately. The non-English-speaking market is huge and the chances that your potential clients buy your products are much higher if they are in their own language and properly localized.
Choosing the right partner is also essential. If your vendor is not specialized in products that are similar to yours, or if your project is not translated by real experts who can cope with it efficiently and on their own, then you and your team will have to spend a lot of time solving problems and managing the localization efforts. Plus, if there are mistakes in your translations, your potential clients will assume that the quality of your product is low and they will flee right away or just buy a cheaper product.
Once the above is clear, there are a few tips that can also help you save money and time on your translations and localizations.
- The most important factor in determining the cost of a translation is the word count. You should translate those contents that really have to be translated in order to maximize your sales. You probably do not have to translate the information for everything that you offer in English into all the languages that figure in your offer. The costs can be optimized if the right approach is taken. Some texts can even be replaced by images or videos that do not need to be translated.
- Planning always helps. By avoiding tight schedules, you can often get better prices and a better quality. Even more important: the sooner your product is released, the sooner it will start generating profit for you.
- Work with the same localization team over time. If different translators are involved in a given translation, or in the subsequent updates of a specific product, this will add time and cost in terms of coordination, learning curve, review, and steps to prevent inconsistencies in terminology and style. Working with the same experts eliminates these issues and the costs and errors that result.
- Minimize "middleman" costs. Large translation companies have big marketing budgets, but they usually outsource the work to smaller companies, which in turn outsource to freelance translators. When this chain is maintained, the chosen translator is often inexperienced and poorly paid.
- Avoid unnecessary changes to the English files between updates. Quite often, small, unimportant changes to the English text can prevent localization tools and translation memories from re-using the corresponding old translations automatically. One small, unnecessary change that affects multiple files translated into 20 languages can lead to a significant cost increase when updating your localized files.
- Avoid very small jobs when possible. Translations under 300 words (or 1 hour’s work) often involve minimum fee charges just to partially compensate for the time spent in management, invoicing and payment of all professionals that participate. If you can combine several small tasks into larger jobs, you will save a good amount of money in the long run.
Some technical aspects:
- Make your UI design flexible enough to accommodate translations that are much larger than the original text in English. Short strings (1 word) can expand by 200% or more when translated. Longer sentences can easily expand by 30-50%. Also avoid sentences split into several concatenated items: the word order and syntax is different for each language, so concatenated items can be difficult and slow to translate. All this will save you money and time both while you translate the strings and while you resize and test the localized UI.
- Make sure that your translators are using the latest localization and automation tools. Using the latest tools can save you a lot of redundant work and duplicated translations as you update files in the future.
- Make sure you use encoding systems that support multilingual characters and files (such as UTF-8 or UTF-16).
- Localizing complex images with several layers can be slow and expensive. If you still decide to include some, try to provide your translators with the source files used to generate the final image. Having access to the source files will save you both time and money, since your linguists will be able to translate directly in the existing text fields, instead of having to re-create the image from scratch.
Please do not hesitate to contact us if you have questions or if you have suggestions on what you would like to see included on this page. We will make sure we include them if they can help other companies save money and time on their translation efforts. Thanks!
The following diagram shows the basic steps involved in a standard Mac localization project. It may seem complicated, but do not worry. We will take care of everything!
This quick overview assumes that the product has been properly internationalized during development according to Apple’s standards. For more information about the Xcode internationalization process in Mac OS X and iOS, please visit: https://developer.apple.com/library/mac/documentation/MacOSX/Conceptual/BPInternational/Introduction/Introduction.html
1. Setup the localization environment (AppleGlot) — Review leveraged text
AppleGlot is Apple’s free tool to facilitate the localization process.
- First, we populate AppleGlot with the entire application bundle, or just the en.lproj folder. Since the release of Snow Leopard, only uncompiled/editable versions of the application NIBS/XIBS should be used for this purpose. For the same reason that Interface Builder cannot open compiled NIBS, AppleGlot will not be able to extract text from a compiled app.
- AppleGlot compares the previous version of the software with the new version and identifies all the changes.
- It automatically leverages items that have stayed the same to the “new localized application” folder.
- It systematically checks all items and makes sure that absolutely all strings (even the hidden ones) have been extracted for translation.
- It extracts new text for translation and puts it in an XML (.WG — Work Glossary) file.
- The previously translated text (.AD — Application Database) is reviewed by the linguistic team to see if any changes are necessary for the newer version (due to changes in context or other reasons).
- At this point, the text has been separated from code and graphics.
2. Translate new/modified text (CAT tools)
The next step is translation. Various tools and approaches can be used in order to conform to/benefit from the following:
- Consistent translations and terminology — Trados or other CAT solutions and editors (context must often be verified by running the software or later during the QA process).
- Spell check tools.
- Standard word processing tools.
- Standard glossaries, such as Apple’s (or Microsoft’s).
- Working with content only shields translators from complex files (and vice versa!).
- Once translation is complete, AppleGlot reintegrates the text.
3. Review/Adjust the localized software’s GUI to:
- Make sure that all language content has been translated.
- Make sure that windows, dialogs, and other GUI elements appear correctly formatted. (Examples of errors: String is too long or inappropriate in context.)
- Edit GUI’s nib files with Interface Builder.
4. Test the localized software — Fix problems found during testing
Once all nib files have been edited, runtime tests are performed to see how the GUI pieces are actually rendered:
- All text has been translated (if English strings are displayed, for example, these may be coming from hard-coded text, or third-party components, or the operating system).
- Special characters (accents, double-byte chars, and so on) display/print correctly.
- Punctuation follows target language (not necessarily English) rules.
- Localized text is wrapped, hyphenated, and sorted according to target language rules.
- Dialog boxes, error messages, buttons, drop-downs, and fields display correctly without truncations and have been resized properly.
- Menu items and dialog box titles have consistent translations.
- Concatenated strings display correctly and read like a proper sentence (rather than a run-on or truncation or nonsense sentence).
- Strings with variables display correctly in the localized application.
- Shortcuts are consistent with target market operating system standards.
- Translations make sense in context.
- The tab order of the options in the localized dialog boxes matches their order in English.
- Dialog boxes display correct regional settings (such as decimal separators, date and time formats, and so on).
This QA phase may take several passes: test/fix, test/fix.
The project is now complete and submitted to the end client for final build/approval.
You can reach more users around the world by localizing your metadata in the App Store, Mac App Store, or Google Play. Translating your app description and keywords into the 5, 10 or 15 most popular languages is probably the first thing you should do. This is a simple and economical task that can quickly double the number of your potential buyers.
A small investment in professional translation makes it easier for more people to learn about your products and to better understand what you have to offer. Consider that many users would never find your app in the App Store if your keywords and description were not translated into their languages. Even if they found your app in related searches, customers will be much more likely to read about your app if the message is in their spoken language.
In addition to your product description, you should also localize your keywords, the product name and, in some cases, the screenshots. We can help you with all that in a smooth and 100% reliable way. Marketing your app in other languages before your competitors start taking this approach will help you expand your share in markets that are clearly growing and where buyers more and more expect the information to be in, and professionally translated into, their own language.
If metadata is translated properly, the chances of your users’ finding your software will be much higher. If the description is clear and professionally localized, the chances of visits’ leading to sales will also be much higher.
These are the languages that correspond to the largest software markets: English, Japanese, German, French, Spanish, Simplified Chinese, Italian, Portuguese, Traditional Chinese, Korean, Russian, Dutch, Swedish ... The order may vary slightly over time and may also depend on your products and priorities, but these languages cover a very high percentage of the potential software customers around the world, while less than 25% of Internet users are fluent in English.
Contact us today, and help your global audience learn about your product and buy it.
Just send us the English files that you would like to have translated (in any format that is convenient for you), tell us what languages you need, and once you accept our quotation, your translations will be ready in a very short time!
- Distributors can be excellent sales organizations, but they are not localizers. The quality they offer is often poor and that can risk your image and damage your global sales.
- Their localization capacity is very limited, which means they can delay the localization of your product if they have other priorities.
- If you already have your products localized professionally, you can use that to negotiate better conditions with your distributors.
- If end users complain to distributors about the quality of their own localization, you may never know about it.
- There can be legal implications about the ownership rights of the localization work.