Translation, though not the only aspect, is an important part of localization. Go back twenty years and if you wanted to localize a website you needed to have someone manually translate the content and then rewrite the content back into the website. This could be a long and tedious process and would often need a dedicated team or a localized branch of the company to do the work.
Often, the translatable content was embedded in the source code and the local tech team had to locate this content and work with it. The process took time and was highly specialized. And that was just the translation part of localization. But as mentioned earlier, localization is more than just translation. Localization is about making online content relevant to a new audience. To achieve the relevance required, all content must be put in cultural context.
What has technology done for localization?
With the onset of Artificial Intelligence (AI), and deep machine learning, there have been vast improvements in Machine Translation (MT). Now algorithms can do what once had to be done manually and the process is a lot faster. Machine learning also helps the translation of a language to be more natural sounding so that it appeals to the target audience.
Consider this, in English, shortened forms of words are often used in the spoken language, for example, they’re, it’s, who’s, and so on. Earlier versions of machine translations were not sophisticated enough to make these short forms and would use the whole words like they are – it is, who is, and so on. The new algorithms can actually translate the language including these nuances so that accepted shortened forms are used and sound more natural.
Back when localization required highly specialized teams it was not for everyone. Large multi-national corporations were able to hire dedicated staff to handle their website localization, but smaller companies didn’t have the resources. A small business would have to rely on an outsider whose work they could only hope was good, or not localize at all. Technology has removed this limitation.
New translation and localization softwares have greatly reduced the cost of localizing a website and has made it easier for small companies to do so in-house. However, even if a company wishes to outsource localization of their website, they can find companies that specialize in that work and can do it at a reasonable cost. Technology has both sped up the process and reduced the costs considerably.
Are there limitations to the tech used in localization?
Because of the nature of localization, technology will have its limitations for a while longer. It is not easy to program cultural context into a machine learning algorithm so that it understands how a society operates. These subtle and not-so-subtle aspects can only be observed and included in localization by a human being. However, technology has given humans the tools to localize a website more accurately than before.
With new and emerging technologies, the translation aspect of localization has become highly refined. It is still important though for a company to have the localized website proofed by an employee and tested with a sample of the target audience. Context is just as if not more important than translation when localizing.
Why use Localize?
When making online content relevant for a wider audience, technology can play a big role. However, the process needs a collaboration of both the tech and the expertise of a human to be carried out smoothly. At Localize we have all of the latest localization technologies and the experienced staff to oversee the use of that technology for the best localized website and content you can get.