Localisation

What is it?

Localisation is a term applied to a specialised kind of translation, and is often used to describe a process involving more than mere translation. Often, localisation is about connected elements - like the user guide for a software package, the text elements in the software itself, the user prompts and messages provided, and the help that pops up when you press F1. Other elements in the localisation process could be promotional material, technical specifications, press releases, white papers, internal memos and just about anything else.

Localisation often starts with a feasibility study. Could there be social, cultural, religious or historical reasons why a product is "doomed to failure" in a particular market? A major Italian manufacturer of gas-driven kitchen stoves, in the early stages of launching a broad campaign to market its products in Norway, once saved a few billion lire because the translator rejected the assignment. He (well, I) could not in all honesty take the client's money knowing that a household gas supply does not exist in Norway. The agency had voiced no such reservations when accepting the assignment, and should have been ashamed. Instead, they emerged as heroes of the day. Go figure.

Localisation may also mean to evaluate the text with relation to local law and regulations. If for instance a US manufacturer wishes to export his standard terms of business to Norway, the translator should advise him that terms of business that attempt to restrict the statutory rights of buyers in Norway will be summarily set aside by the courts in the event of a conflict. Straight translation is clearly not sufficient in this case; localisation is required.

Important note

bullet The product that is to be localised should meet and fulfil the expectations and requirements of the target market.
bullet The product that is to be localised should possess the quality and profit potential to achieve a market penetration to justify the investment into localisation.
bullet The localisation should itself be done to a strict quality standard, as sloppy work makes a bad impression while costing no less - and often costing a great deal more.

The process of internationalisation

Using own resources - internal or associated - we perform localisation for the Norwegian market. The products to be localised will typically be international software or electronic documentation, where a major part of the assignment is translation into the target language. The documentation may discuss tools and utility programs that should also be localised, or should remain in English. Part of the task is to ascertain exactly which parts are to be localised, and which parts are to be documented in Norwegian through describing the English menus and commands.

Through co-operating partners (agencies and individuals) in a number of countries, we are able to perform localisation of Norwegian software or other products into English (GB or US), German, French, Swedish, Danish, Finnish and Hungarian. Other languages may be possible on request.

References

Nokia Mobile Phones
Display texts on all Nokia GSM and NMT cellular phones localised to Norwegian, up to the 71xx series. Software for Nokia 9000 Communicator localised and documented. Nokia CellularWare 1.2 translated into Norwegian, including software and help system.

Telenor Mobil

MobilKontor 1 translated into Norwegian, including software, user guide and help system.

VISA

Implementation Guide for VISA XML invoice translated into Norwegian, including localisation of sample invoices.

Rubric Limited
Norwegian localisation partner for portable Toshiba PC's since early 1997, and desktops since early 2000. Software (tools, utilities, BIOS), electronic User Manual, printed User Manual.

Siemens Business Services
Norwegian and English versions of software, user guide and help system for DocuLive software packages (document management systems) developed and written in parallel in both languages.