Software translation (or software localisation as it is commonly known) is a rapidly growing area of translation that requires great skill and specialised knowledge. It primarily covers the translation of mobile applications and software programmes, as well as user guides, app store descriptions, user interfaces and support systems.
You might be tempted to think that software translation is not essential. After all, more than 60% of all web content is written in English, and lots of professional software users are well used to working in a second language. Indeed, this was the norm for many years, with English language versions of programmes often being used across the globe within multiple different sectors and industries.
But that has all changed in recent times. Developers have woken up to the fact that users prefer engaging with content in their native language and that they will almost always choose multilingual software options when they can. This has sparked a boom in software translation and set a new industry standard. Software providers are now expected to be multilingual – or they risk losing out to competitors who are.
SEPARATING TEXT FROM CODE
One of the major pitfalls involved in software translation is ensuring that the code remains intact. Translatable content needs to first be extracted so that the code is not inadvertently altered or disturbed, and care must be taken to ensure that your hard work is not undone. This process is often undertaken by the developers before the text is sent out for translation, but the translator nonetheless needs to understand how it works and be able to identify any faults in the process.
Moreover, software translators also need to possess some basic knowledge about coding in order to ensure they do not inadvertently introduce symbols or punctuation marks that might be read as code. Quotation marks, for example, indicate a string of text and should not be introduced within existing strings during translation. Similarly, the ampersand symbol (&) indicates a so-called hot key, which gives access to menus or sub-menus, and must therefore be avoided in translation.
The list doesn’t end there: date formats, file names, file extensions and shortcut commands are all things that need to be carefully considered and which the translator must know how to deal with properly in order to produce a functional and usable translation.
INTUITIVE LANGUAGE AND SPACE RESTRICTIONS
Beyond needing a basic knowledge of coding, software translators also need to be skilled communicators who understand nuance and can adapt to spatial restrictions. This is particularly true when it comes to error messages or commands, which need to be very clear and fit into defined spaces. It takes an excellent command of the target language to find just the right terms here, and any mistakes or clunky translations will likely confuse and frustrate your users.
ONGOING PROJECTS AND UPDATES
Here at COMUNICA, we work closely with a skilled set of mother tongue software translators who are able to translate your content accurately and succinctly, without introducing any errors to your code.
Moreover, we also understand that software translation is often undertaken in tandem with software development, and that frequent changes have to be made within tight deadlines. We are able to ensure fast turnaround times that fit your schedule, and because we collaborate closely with our translators, we can use the same linguists for all stages of your project and for any future updates you may go on to release.
Contact us today for more information about how to make your software multilingual.