Freelancing and localization

  By: Sofiane Madani

In a time when every company wants to go global and market its products around the world, the translation industry plays an important part in the production and marketing activities which will ensure these products can be used in other countries with different languages. Many of these products that cross borders are technology-related and most of them are published in English first. Localization is the activity that makes using technology products in diverse locales and languages possible. Localizing a product is not only about the translation of its content; it also involves many other activities in the process, such as engineering, computer program developing and DTP.

Among these technical tasks, the internationalization of high-tech products before even its completion has become an important part of the process of localization. The internationalization is designing a product that can handle multiple language and diverse cultural aspects without the need to redesign this product for a specific locale. So handling a localization project is a bit different than working on a traditional translation project as regards to the workflow, the technical aspects involved and the types of files that are processed. The localizer is certainly different than the usual translator who cares about Word plain text only. Using CAT tools is a must in localization projects: it often helps in the converting of the complex content to a plain translatable text as it enables the user to retrieve the resources contained in the translation memories and make use of the internal repetitions. Sometimes even this powerful CAT tools do not suffice to handle technical issues, in this case, localization engineers remove translatable parts from codes and make sure the translation of these texts are integrated within the code to ensure perfect functionality for each language.

The globalization of a product is often made by major localization companies, because it has all the technical, management and human resources to handle a multilingual localization project in very reasonable deadlines, and this is an impossible mission for a small company with limited resources. However, taking part in these big localization projects as a freelancer is possible. The freelance translator will receive extracted texts, in plain word format or in the form of CAT tool proprietary files along with the original document or screenshots of what should be translated, if this is a part of an application or a video game, etc. The freelancer should also receive detailed instructions about what should be adapted in the translation: date formats, conversion of currency data, units of measurement, signs and graphics. The freelancer can also participate in the linguistic and functionality testing process. When the freelance translator takes part in software localization, he should have a software localization tool that allows to see the Graphical User Interface during translation, proofreading and testing.

The freelance translator can on the other hand handle, by himself, simple localization projects, such as translating brochures, simple XML and HTML files, and entire static Websites. But in this case, technical skills related to DTP and XML and HTML editing are required.

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