In today’s fast-paced, globalized world, software translation services are essential. The term software is applied in the same way to:
- IT geniuses huddled around highly technical computer equipment that looks powerful enough to launch a rocket.
- Powerful international engineering companies in need of software translation services.
- An integral part of any business that strives to succeed in the modern world. Even the smallest companies, sell or not IT-related products, have a website or a mobile app, which will eventually bring app translation into the picture if they strive to break into a foreign market.
In addition to the computer programs that immediately come to mind, software encompasses all sorts of audiovisual media platforms, mobile apps and videogames localization.
Software translation involves the translation of all the elements that go into making any sort of software, website or app functional, including:
- The user interface code.
- The visual features like help screens and menus.
- The instruction manuals.
- The licensing agreements.
- And the list goes on and on…
Software is a very broad category, so depending on the individual needs of each company, the necessary elements may vary, but you can bet some sort of software translation will be involved. As you can imagine, the software translation industry has its unique set of challenges that must be taken into consideration.
When we talk about software translation, we are actually talking about software localization, a term that refers to the process of not just translating a text literally, but culturally adapting its content to the various target audiences and making sure that the resulting product is as functional in a target language as it is in its source language.
Let’s say an American online store wants to expand to a Spanish-speaking market. This begs the question: what sort of Spanish? Castilian Spanish? Mexican Spanish? Puerto Rican Spanish? There are vast regional differences. Even amongst speakers of the same language, the same words can have different meanings in different parts of the world and what is considered acceptable in one region may be offensive in another.
The layout and images used might have to be adapted as well so that they are culturally relevant. The company would have to hire a translator that is deeply knowledgeable in the specific regional vocabulary used in the target market, as well as the cultural background of the consumer base, to ensure that the content is adequately localized, not merely translated.
The goal is to create a product that would appear to be locally crafted for the target audience in every sense and this can only be achieved through professional app localization services.
Technological considerations in software localization
Not only will you need a translator who is well-versed in the target language and its attached culture, but you will also need one who has the technical knowledge necessary to make a software functional. This person may need to be familiar with HTML, Java or other computer coding languages.
One of the challenges of software localization is separating the source text from the source code in order to preserve the integrity of that code and be able to seamlessly produce the app in the target language. If done correctly, this can facilitate updates later on, as well as prevent glitches.
The resulting product must also be tested thoroughly before being released in order to ensure that all buttons are functional, that the text fits visually in the allotted space, that the content is culturally localized, etc. A knowledgeable software translator will be aware of highly specialized IT issues like this.
Time constraints in software localization
Whereas document translation is done after the document is completed, app localization is often carried out while the software is still being developed because the goal is to have the product available in various languages simultaneously.
This time crunch means that the translation team needs to work in close collaboration with the software development team to coordinate their work efficiently and in parallel. In addition, a translation team must be flexible enough to account for software updates and changes that inevitably happen in our modern, fast-paced world.
As you can see, software translation is multi-layered with many logistical challenges that can only be overcome with professional software localization services like those provided by SIGNEWORDS.
Any effective software translation team must consist of a wide range of experts with linguistic, cultural and IT knowledge that can ensure an adequate app translation.