Translators constantly ask themselves whether their translated texts succeed in conveying their message to the target audience in the same way as the original source language text does. Localising software and all the related elements (manual, online help resource, etc.) however really involves going much further: it isn’t simply about conveying or transmitting something. It actually means modifying a product to make it compatible with a linguistic and cultural environment. Achieving this requires addressing a host of aspects, such as converting currency and measurement units, time and date conventions or accounting for legal characteristics peculiar to the target country.
A vital consideration for software or websites is ensuring that the final version also works in other regions. In this context, in addition to the role of language expert, the translator acts as a consultant to the customer to decide what content may be irrelevant or need streamlining – and where the original market and target market differ so extensively, it may be that some texts need a complete revamp. In some cases, the translator also performs post-translation functionality testing, or suggests ideas regarding country-specific preferences (such as choice of colour or design graphics).
This advisory role requires a considerable degree of experience. I gained such experience through numerous projects carried out for well-known clients in the entertainment and application software industry.