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Localization Done Right Guarantees Delighted Clients: High Level Localization Guidelines

by Paul Cooper, Senior Localization Engineer

Any time software is destined for the global market or for a diverse audience within a region, it is well worth planning the localization effort. Seemingly small errors in wording or presentation can ruin the professional aspects of a product, leaving instead an impression of amateurism or cultural indifference. The following steps are a guide to the localization process to produce successful translation packages.

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Machine Translation: The Good, the Bad, and the Ugly

by Chris Durand

Machine translation is the use of software to translate text from one language to another, usually without assistance from a human translator.  It is a fascinating field that is changing rapidly, but here’s my take on where things stand today.

The Good

Machine translation is cheap, and it is getting better every day.  I was encouraged by the success of IBM’s Jeopardy-playing system Watson in drubbing its human challengers. Watson’s ability to “understand” idioms and natural language will contribute greatly to the future of machine translation.

Translation projects vary in requirements for accuracy as shown in the following diagram.  For projects jobs where accuracy is less important, machine translation is a workable alternative.  An example of this would be a company support forum, with huge amounts of user-supplied content.  It is not cost-effective to pay a human translator to translate every post by a user into numerous languages.  However, a machine translation engine that has been tuned to translate support issues for a particular product won’t create perfect results, but may still be a valuable resource to users.  And creating value is what translation is all about.

Of course there are many translation jobs where accuracy is critical, such as legal documents.  And translations of literature, poetry, and the like will remain difficult for machine translation software for years since there is much more to this sort of translation than accuracy, such as style and other artistic considerations.

But with continuing advances in computing and linguistics, the line shown in the above diagram will move steadily to the right over time. Continue reading


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Austin, My International City

by Brenda Hall

When I moved to Austin in January of 1985, I was working for IBM.  I took for granted that everyone working in large corporations was focused on the world, how to work across countries and cultures, and traveling to collaborate with international team members. I was fortunate indeed to have traveled to London, Paris, Copenhagen, Frankfurt and many other international cities.

When I arrived in Austin, I’d already lived in cities from New York to Boulder, to Los Angeles to Ft. Lauderdale to name a few. Austin immediately made me feel welcome and at home.  An initial surprise was how much Austin wasn’t on an international roadmap. There were either major corporations like IBM, 3M, Texas Instruments, or there were startup companies like Dell, Austin Ventures and Whole Foods. There didn’t seem to be a city-wide focus on building and branding Austin as an international player. I don’t believe our university system had yet branched out with a focus on global commercialization, and Austin Community College didn’t have a program focused on building a work force with global knowledge and skills. As a matter of fact, that didn’t happen until January 2000 when a few of us were corralled together for a few days to create the framework ACC would then fill in with courseware. Continue reading