Career question: Do I really need to learn Trados?

As an employer and a professor, I have often heard the question, “Do I need to learn Trados to get a job in translation?” Students regularly ask this at the start of my Introduction to CAT (Computer-Assisted Translation) course at MIIS (the Middlebury Institute of International Studies). Professionals often wonder the same, especially if they are newcomers to the industry or if they are looking to advance in their career. Perhaps you have also heard or asked the same question.

Opinions vary widely. And the passion of such responses can be quite intense, as may be expected when a software program has won the largest share of users in a heavily fragmented market. Fans will enthusiastically answer “yes, Trados is the industry standard!” Opponents will staunchly object, “no!” Others may grudgingly say, “yes, Trados is a necessary evil.” Other responses in the middle are more tempered.Valid arguments are made both for and against learning Trados, and this article will review some of those. Ultimately, both logic and emotion have persuaded me to lean one particular direction.

Common arguments against learning Trados

Two common arguments against teaching and learning SDL Trados Studio include the following valid points with which I can agree:

  • Not everyone uses Trados, and the important thing is to learn a TEnT (Translation Environment Tool)
  • Trados is complicated and expensive, while newer alternatives– especially web-based tools – are more streamlined, easier to use, and significantly cheaper

Yes, obviously not everyone uses Trados. In an August 2017 analysis of 200+ U.S. job postings that required or desired translation technology skills, an impressive 45.8% of the jobs mentioned Trados, but only 22.8% named Trados as a minimum requirement. That means more than three quarters of job postings do not specifically require Trados skills.And, yes, I also agree that it is most important to learn some TEnT, no matter what it is. In fact, one of the most important learning outcomes of the introductory course I teach is to “learn how to learn” such technology. After learning one translation technology, people find it much easier to quickly learn another when necessary. For this reason, my students are required to prove that concept by learning how to use multiple tools. Similarly, when I have hired project managers, engineers, and translators to work for me, I have usually hired them based on their aptitude for learning technology and not for their skill with a specific brand of technology.Yes, Trados is not the best tool for everyone. Alternative technologies each have their own strengths. I would never say Trados is the best for every situation. Translation technology advocate Uwe Mueggehas frequently written strong arguments in favor of teaching translation technology courses using cheaper, simpler, web-based tools that minimize the need for troubleshooting and allow for real-time sharing. I would also agree with most of his arguments. Similarly, in my career, I have helped my partners and employers to build new technologies that have advantages over Trados in various situations.

A new argument for learning Trados

With all those great arguments in favor of learning alternative programs, why would someone still worry about learning Trados?

Uncertainty is the main concern expressed to me by students and professionals who have only learned alternative tools. Job seekers want to have multiple good options and they wonder if it will be enough to know an alternative tool when so many job opportunities mention Trados specifically.The chart below shows that current job postings mention Trados more than all other on-SDL tools combined.

The numbers from this analysis are not perfect. This was not a totally random sample of jobs over an extended period, but a selection of all jobs on and that required or desired translation technology skills at a single point in time. The analysis did not include contacting each hiring manager to confirm if each skill was really required or desired as described in the posting. Consequently, these numbers do not account for the hiring managers who may mention Trados to describe any generic translation technology like someone in the US might mention Kleenex to describe any generic facial tissue.

Regardless of the limitations of this analysis, these numbers show a very lopsided tendency for job postings to require or desire Trados skills. Anecdotally, this tendency has proven to be constant for more than a decade as industry newcomers confront a sizable number of job postings that require or desire Trados skills.

Facts are crucial when deciding how to invest our time and money in technology. We should consider the fact that many companies do not use Trados while also weighing the fact that Trados is the most requested of all translation tools.

We should also prioritize the relevance of facts in making these decisions. For example, to determine what tool will best help us to get a job, knowing what tool is most requested by employers — the demand side — is more important than knowing what tool is most used by employees and contractors — the supply side. Imbalance is a related issue. Hypothetically, if 1,000 Trados-using job seekers are applying for 94 Trados-mentioning jobs, but only ten Smartling-using job seekers are applying for ten Smartling-mentioning jobs, we must factor in the imbalance of supply and demand.

We should also consider that percentages are different based on which specific roles and specializations we wish to pursue. The chart below shows that Trados is named very frequently by employers; however, Trados is named much more frequently in translator job postings than in translation manager job postings.

However, facts are not completely independent of opinions. Emotion and perception still play roles in deciding which technologies to invest in. Logically, I can point to a majority of translation and localization jobs that do not require Trados exclusively — even if it would be “nice to have.” And most people can easily learn Trados after having mastered a similar tool. However, when looking for new or different jobs, people often feel insecure for many reasons, and job seekers can gain a significant boost of confidence by being able to state that they know how to use the market’s most-requested tool. Some feel sufficiently confident without knowing Trados, but the confidence that accompanies knowledge of Trados could make a significant difference for others.

Two recommendations

When someone asks me if he or she really needs to learn Trados, I weigh all these options, facts and emotions to frequently make one of the two following recommendations:

If you can afford access to Trados, give it priority, but don’t limit yourself exclusively to Trados.

Many students find it easiest to first spend a day or two learning the basics of translation technology in a simpler tool like Wordfast Anywhere or Google Translator’s Toolkit. Learning basic concepts about managing translation memory, terminology, and automated quality assurance in a more streamlined tool can improve the learning curve in Trados. Then, after taking the time to master Trados, try to learn another tool for which demand is increasing, thus proving that one can learn how to learn translation technologies.

If you can not afford reasonable access to Trados, learn another tool exceptionally well, and then learn Trados.

Those who are in a better position to learn another tool like MemoQ, Lingotek, OmegaT, Matecat, Fluency or something else should put forth the effort to truly master it. Having mastered many translation tasks in an alternative tool, one will then find it comparatively easy to learn the same tasks in Trados using a free 30-day trial version.

The answer to the question of whether to learn Trados does not need to be all or nothing. Those who follow these recommendations will have not only the confidence to say they know Trados but also the experience to affirm they can learn any similar tool in a short amount of time. Again, many people will have very successful careers in translation or localization without learning Trados; however, those who find themselves stressing about the question of whether to learn Trados should consider the demand-side numbers, the warring emotions of confidence and insecurity, and the two recommendations above.

This article was originally posted on by Adam Wooten


Neural networks power speech translations

Microsoft Translator announced on November 15 that it is now powering all speech translation through neural networks. This means that apps such as Skype Translator and the Microsoft Translator app for mobile devices now use this technology, which is also available to anyone who wants to use the Translator speech API for apps or services.

Microsoft Translator supports speech for the following languages, all of which now use the neural networks: Arabic, Chinese Mandarin, English, French, German, Italian, Brazilian Portuguese, Russian and Spanish. In addition, Japanese text translations use the neural networks.

Check out the Try & Compare page to see the difference between Statistical and Neural models.

For more information, read Microsoft Translator launching Neural Network based translations for all its speech languages on the Microsoft Translator blog.

This article was originally posted by J. Mandel on Microsoft blog.

Localization Checker now available for free download

The new Resource Static Analysis engine allows localization engineers or PMs to confirm that files handed off to localization provide as much assistance as possible to localizers. For example, the engine can be used to check whether developers have included sufficient context to the source strings. This helps to make the localization process as fast and efficient as possible, minimizing the questions that localizers have for developers when the localizers struggle to understand the context of a given source string.

Once the files are localized, the engine also allows engineers and PMs to check that no functional localization issues have been introduced before handing the files back to the development or engineering team.

Read more about the Resource Static Analysis engine on the MSDN Localization blog.

This article was originally posted by 

Marketing your services to translation agencies

Marketing your services to translation agencies

Does approaching translation agencies give you the fear? Are you not sure how to present yourself? Does ‘marketing’ sound like something you’re just not ready for?

This blog is about how you can make yourself known, and make a ‘helluva’ first impression in the world of translation and interpretation.

#1 Set up your own website

Are you already considering skipping step 1 because you don’t think you can build your own website? Relax, it doesn’t have to be hard. Actually, you can make a brilliant site without knowing one single piece of coding.

Having a website can be incredibly beneficial when applying for jobs and when you’re trying to establish yourself as a freelance translator. Make it easy for people to find out who you are, and why they should hire you.

There are loads of platforms out there, that can help you build your own website. Two of the most popular sites are and WordPress. Have a look around and choose one that fits you and your technical abilities.

#2 Make sure your LinkedIn is on point

LinkedIn is one of the fastest growing networks for professionals. If you’ve not got a profile already, then we suggest you schedule a day off and set up an account.

When looking through applications, agencies and other employers often google your name. This is to see what the internet has to say about you – and what you’ve had to say for yourself on the internet. LinkedIn has a lot of credibility, and your account is likely show up on one of the first pages of Google when someone searches for your name.

LinkedIn gives a clear overview of your employment history, your education and your qualifications. Think of LinkedIn as an extended CV. Make sure it’s up to date and looking fresh.

#3 Build a translation portfolio

It’s easier to believe something you can see, than something you’ve been told. You can either say ‘I’ve done lots of great translations for y’ or you can show some of the great work you’ve done.

Your portfolio can contain things you’ve translated, your qualifications, a copy of your CV, associations you’re a member of, personal information, and whatever else you think might be relevant.

Depending on where your skills lie, and what you think suits you – you can either make a hard copy portfolio, add it onto your website, or make a second website/ blog for it. Have in mind that creating all these sites and social media accounts can be time consuming. Pick a few, stick to them, and update them regularly.

#4 Business Cards, should they stay or should they go?

In a increasingly digital world, some industries and some people are ditching business cards. Whether you want to splash the cash or not, is up to yourself. If you think you can make a first impression and give people you meet something to remember you by (and your contact details), then we say go for it.

However, when we are at exhibitions and networking events, we meet A LOT of people. As much as we want to remember everyone, and their email address, it’s very hard! Hand us your business card, and we’ll be able to give you a call or send you an email if we’re interested.

#5 Blog what’s on your mind

If you’re a passionate translator, let the industry know what you’re working on, what you’re thinking about, and what is going on in your part of the translation world. Having your own blog is an indication that you’re passionate about your job and that you’re a thinker.

Start a blog, share posts on LinkedIn, or simply add your thoughts to your website. We know it can be time consuming to keep a blog, but when you reflect on your role as a translator and what’s going on in the world and industry, you often learn new things.

#6 Contact agencies

We all know that one person that complains night and day that they can’t find their dream job, but doesn’t do anything about it. Don’t be that person.

Get out there, contact us if you’re interested. Contact us if you want a chat about what life is like in our agency.

We like initiative!

#7 The application and the CV

When you send your application and your CV make sure it’s good. We don’t want a standard letter that goes out to 50 different places.

Your CV should be up to date, and your application personal. We want to know why you want to work for us. When agencies can see that you’ve put an effort into your application, and gone the extra mile, you’re in the spotlight.

#8 The dreaded networking

We know that networking is stressful and not always very fun, but believe us it really pays off! It’s hard to make a proper good impression over email, or 140 characters. Sometimes, just showing up puts you ahead of the curve.

In a world where there are way more job applicants than jobs, you’ve got to stand out!

#9 What now?

We (Global Language Services Ltd.) obviously can’t speak on behalf of all agencies in the world. But we think that if you follow our steps above, you’ll do great and agencies WILL pay attention to you. We’ve got nothing else to say except: ‘go get em’ tiger!

This article was originally posted on

The Global Clinical Trial Environment [Infographic]

With worldwide prescription drug sales expected to reach $1 trillion by 2020, pharma is poised for dramatic change. Alongside this growth in sales comes challenges such as emerging technologies, new regulatory requirements, and more complex supply chains, to name a few. Even before sales are made, a large proportion of potential profits—now estimated to exceed $2 billion on average—is invested into drug development alone.

The globalization of clinical drug trials has helped reduce costs and speed time-to-market, making quality translation a vital component in meeting new challenges. However, when organizations are managing several multilingual clinical trials, facing resourcing pressures, or in an active M&A environment, it can be difficult to achieve efficiency in both localization and core internal processes.

The answer? Centralization.

Centralization is an increasingly popular best practice for end-to-end localization management, especially in the context of multilingual clinical labeling, a critical component of global trials. See the infographic below for a quick overview of its benefits (our eBook, Global Regulatory Solutions: Clinical Labeling Services, describes these and multilingual clinical labeling processes in more detail).

global clinical trials


Global Clinical Trials

Clinical trials are currently underway in 200+ countries.

Almost half take place outside of the U.S., including emerging countries who are heavily investing in healthcare and life sciences infrastructure.

Testing and approval are now set upon a global path, which serves both developers and diverse patient populations.

The move to globalization has made accurate and effective multilingual clinical labeling critical to meeting patient, clinician, supply chain, and regulatory needs.

WARNING: Clinical label translation and compliance mistakes are costly and can jeopardize your entire trial.

Critical challenges for multilingual clinical label management

  •          Shorter production timelines for a greater variety of label types, in more languages
  •          Errors & inconsistencies from multiple vendors across multisite studies lead to regulatory mistakes and translation errors
  •          Demanding process with 1000s of moving parts can overwhelm the most robust organizations

Rx: Centralization

  •          Streamline multiple vendors & processes
  •          Speed turnaround times
  •          Reduce cost and risk
  •          Increase total quality
  •          Remove internal distractions


Streamlined, scalable process for global clinical trials

  •          Greater efficiencies – optimized process for speed, scale, quality
  •          Patient health – accuracy and consistency for 250+ languages
  •          Financial savings – labels and submissions right the first time

This article was originally posted on

Multilingual Translation and China’s New Silk Road

One Belt One Road’s Boon for Translation Related Services

Multilingual Translation and China’s New Silk RoadTrade and translation go hand in hand. Interpreters and translators used to ply their craft along the ancient Silk Road. And now that China is pushing for a new Silk Road (One Belt One Road), Mandarin translation experts — and anyone working as an Asian translator, or any type of translator for that matter — are bound to see an increase in work along this trade network, with the need for translations surging to impressive new levels.

The Old Silk Road and Impact on Interpretation

The original Silk Road (established during China’s lengthy Han Dynasty), which relied heavily on interpretation to grease the wheels of communication, trade and travel, helped bridge the gap (cultural, linguist and distance) between East Asia and the West. The route, which got its name from the profitable trade in silk, cut through Eurasia — and the various dynasties controlling those lands over the centuries — on its way to the Mediterranean.

This ancient network involved Chinese traders, naturally, as well as Arabs, Greeks, Indians, Mongols, Persians, Romans and many other peoples of varying backgrounds. Trade routes flourished until new sea trading routes were opened up during the Age of Discovery (along with some other factors that came into play) — although the need for multilingual translation and interpreting that had been established during the Silk Road’s heyday did not fade away, as Portuguese explorers landing in India and China quickly discovered.

China’s New Silk Road and Impact on Multilingual Translation

China’s new trade initiative, reaching through Central Asia all the way to Europe and beyond, is set to bring a trillion dollars, if not more, to the surrounding areas. At the heart of this endeavor are tens of billions of dollars of initial investments from China. During Beijing’s Belt and Road Forum, the One Belt One Road was described as the “shared commitment to building an open economy, ensuring free and inclusive trade, opposing all forms of protectionism.” And of course Mandarin translation and English Chinese translations (might as well throw in Arabic, German, French, Italian, Russian, Turkish and a ton of other languages in too) will play big parts in this possible realignment of how international trade works.

Yet this new Silk Road is far more ambitious that its predecessor. With enthusiastic backing from Chinese president Xi Jinping, the Chinese want to build a network of trade routes (roads, rail, ports) that reach from Asia to Europe, and Africa as well. So far, 70 countries have signed onto the initial stages of this impressive plan.

The potential blossoming of a new Silk Road means an Asian translator working in a translation office connected to the route (virtually, or geographically by region) will likely have his or her hands full with all kinds of burgeoning new translation and trade opportunities in the years to come. The same can be said for a translation office in North America, working with clients somehow involved with the One Belt One Road initiative.

And while there is some pushback against the idea of a new Silk Road, especially from India, if successful, human translation, Mandarin translation and multilingual translation will grow in significant ways as this complex trade route comes back to life — bigger than it ever was in the past.

This article was originally posted on Global Vision International, Inc.

9 Strategies from Cisco’s Continuous Localization Expert


What does it take to introduce, then implement an entirely new localization strategy at the “number 1 IT company in the world”?This was the challenge that Cisco’s Internationalisation Architect and “Chief Localization Evangelist” Gary Lefman faced early 2015. He realized that nearly all of the development teams he worked with at Cisco had “gone agile”—they were all using the agile development methodology that is fast becoming the industry standard. So, faced with this daunting task, Gary got to work.

The result? His version of the much-hyped “agile localization” philosophy. This new system is known as “continuous localization.”   

In 2 years’ time, Gary has not only successfully aligned Cisco’s localization strategy with their agile development process, but he has also developed a robust internal team of “champions” and documentation to educate the 25,000+ engineers working in Cisco about this more flexible way of localizing—which Gary believes is most effective via continuous delivery throughout the development cycle, not just at the end.

This week, we got the chance to chat with Gary to learn more about continuous localization and how he implemented it at Cisco. Our conversation covered:

  • What “continuous localization” is and why it’s different than “agile localization”
  • How to successfully implement continuous delivery
  • The challenges and benefits of this approach
  • What a localization team of any size or budget can do today to become “more agile”

About Gary Lefman

Developing a whole new localization strategy for a multinational company with hundreds of product teams is intimidating for anyone, but Gary’s not one to shy away from challenges.

After starting his career in network engineering, he stumbled upon the localization industry in 2002. Since then, Gary has become one of the leading industry experts for localization and internationalization (the process of making your code adaptable to different languages, regions, and cultures.) To date, he has supported the localization process at Cisco for around 500 products.

About Cisco

Cisco Systems, Inc. is the worldwide leader in networking for the Internet. Cisco’s Internet Protocol-based (IP) networking solutions are the foundation of the Internet and most corporate, education, and government networks around the world.

Now, let’s get started.

Here are our top 9 key takeaways from Gary on how continuous localization works, and how you can integrate it into your own localization workflows.

  1. Gary’s role at Cisco is unique and focused on internationalization education.

3 years after Gary made the jump at Cisco from networks engineering to working in localization full-time, he realized he was repeatedly facing the same problems.

“I’d tell the development teams over and over again, ‘there’s this internationalization dev program, and here’s how to adapt your code.

As the number of products he was in charge of grew, so did the number of these identical meetings. He approached one of his senior directors and explained the need for a permanent internationalization solution—or a single internal system—that all the dev teams could follow in localization.

The director appointed Gary to be the new Internationalization Architect at Cisco. “You can move away from localization projects,” Gary was told, “and focus on getting the internationalization problems fixed from Day 1.

At its core, Gary’s job is “to change people’s mindsets.”CLICK TO TWEET

“This means educating software engineering teams. Product managers, project managers, designers—everyone I’d have to influence about internationalization to make sure they get everything right before they start localization.”

  1. “Continuous localization” is necessary for today’s agile development environment.

Gary recalls how he first approached the concept of “agile localization” with skepticism.

“Until 2014, agile localization was the hot topic in the industry. But I was very dubious,” Gary says. “As a software engineer, I knew it was not going to work for localization.” Localization is too different from normal software engineering that the approach would be irrelevant.

But Gary was seeing more and more software teams transition to agile around him and knew that localization needed to “keep up.” He began looking at what developers were using to become agile—powerful tools that allowed them to automate building and integrating their code.

An example model of the Agile Development cycle.

But it wasn’t until he attended a conference in the summer of 2016 that he first heard about continuous delivery of localization.

The conference discussed continuous delivery of static web content and documentation, but Gary pushed the idea further, to consider a continuous localization system for software, which is “a lot more complex and involved.”

To start, Gary looked at tools like Jenkins, one of the automation engines used in continuous delivery, and other tools that work closely with it more on the translation and text side.

“I started asking myself, how can we use development tools for localization, and how can we integrate our localization process into the lifecycle of products being developed today?”

  1. Continuous localization is not just a system, but a new way of thinking about the localization process.

Continuous localization is more than just a system of workflows—it’s a new way of localizing.CLICK TO TWEET The waterfall method is, for better or worse, how most of the world still runs their localization: after engineers are done coding a project, the localization part begins in bulk, often causing codes to break. Developers would find errors in internationalization that could have been avoided if localization had been introduced earlier.

What Gary proposes with continuous localization is using continuous integration tools to connect “continuous delivery” processes on both development and localization side. In other words, testing smaller “bundles” of localized code in more frequent intervals in parallel to the agile development “sprints.”

Here’s what a high-level continuous localization workflow looks like:

Educating people about this new system requires 4 key components:

  • Everyone needs to be onboard

Transitioning your team to any new system requires a lot of help—especially if your “team” is 25,000 engineers spread over 500 products around the globe.

We asked Gary which functions own this move into continuous localization at Cisco. He says it’s “really everyone’s responsibility,” but the 2 people key to an effective transition are the localization engineer and the product manager. “These are the 2 primary roles who focus on making sure continuous localization is implemented, or at least considered.”

  • Identify and keep in touch with “champions” of your cause

“Because I can’t handle 500 products by myself,” explains Gary, “it’s part of our strategy at Cisco to build a community of ‘internationalization champions’ internally.

To do this, he identifies anyone “who is deeply passionate about internationalization” or understands it—people Gary can count on to help him spread the word.

These can be various technical leaders and program managers in different business units at Cisco. He meets with them, gets them up to speed about internationalization best practices, then encourages them to pass that knowledge onto their teams.

This system is working out quite well. It’s a case of getting around, meeting these people, getting them to understand the purpose behind internationalization and the benefits of doing it right from Day 1.

Right now, there are 38 “champions” at Cisco.

“It’d be nice to have hundreds,” laughs Gary, “but 38 is good because it covers the majority of our software groups.”

  • Allow your “champions” to collaborate on an internal library of resources

To empower these champions to own the internationalization process, Gary suggests leveraging an internal platform to collaborate, communicate, and share resources. Gary’s own champions are connected on an internal social media platform based on one of the company’s own products.

“We have a global software community that’s built on best practices, standards, and part of that is our internationalization strategy documents.”

The small community of champions use the site for collaboration, sharing ideas and updates, etc.CLICK TO TWEETGary says it’s been “really helpful” to be able to share resources, and it runs like a helpdesk. He’ll write an article for anything he believes will be a repeated problem. He then refers anyone with the problem to that document.

  1. Localizing well—whether waterfall or continuous—requires both expertise and experience in order to stay “agile.”

This means prioritizing:

  • Flexible workflows

Agile methodology enables engineering teams to be adaptable and continue moving forward with results. Similarly, Gary says that “there’s a number of things that need to happen in localization, but how we get there is flexible.

“There is no set way that we do things,” Gary explains.CLICK TO TWEET“Our workflows are adapted to each development team’s style of doing things.” They’re equally flexible with any company Cisco acquires, gradually bringing those teams into the standard way of localizing—which is “not very rigid either.”

  • Collaboration with localization experts

Internal documentation helps get teams up to speed, but sometimes, you need to bring in the experts—especially when it comes to something as specialized as localization.

For example, a common localization task is to ensure your code supports bidirectional locales (i.e. for languages like Arabic.) To do it well is “very much a gut feeling, a visual thing,” says Gary. “It’s not something that can be tested using tools that look at it in its static form, as a source code.”

Bringing in internationalization experts can help save time in the entire localization process.

For situations like these, Gary advises bringing someone in who has experience in bidirectional locales to look at the code in order to get it to run.

  • Effective timing that benefits all teams

Ideally, this collaboration between a localization expert and the engineering team would take place after the user interface has already been designed—”before any code is written.”

That’s usually the point Gary jumps onto a project and guides the team through the requirements. “We can look at the design together,” he says, “and see how the team would need to adjust their programming style to meet the requirements for internationalization.”

From that point on, Gary will “hold the team’s hands for a while” and check up on them occasionally as the project moves ahead. The teams themselves still do the bulk of the work, but having Gary and other experts’ oversight ensures they don’t veer off course by accident.

  1. Understand engineers’ pain points.

Gary received plenty of pushback about localization from development teams facing the internationalization process, even before he introduced continuous localization. He says the top pain points are 1) a bad preconception of localization from past experiences and 2) the time pressure in agile development itself.

Before dev teams switched to agile, the localization process would come at the end of a project, as per the traditional waterfall approach. “All these internationalization problems would be found, and all hell breaks lose” right before they wanted to go live.

“Everyone panics,” says Gary. “It’s chaos.

This created negative feelings among software developers about localization, but this is less of the case now as localization education has improved.

The 2nd concern is that because agile teams are on tighter time pressures to quickly iterate, they don’t have much time to do any extra work.

The localization team will usually make a decision with each team whether or not to push for internationalization right away.

We can’t force the internationalization onto them,” explains Gary, “because that will break our relationship with the developer teams. Instead, we’d plan to have it inserted at a later date.”

  1. Focus on education-based solutions.

Developers are rightfully protective of their code.CLICK TO TWEET“And they don’t want to break what they might have spent months, maybe years building,” says Gary.

“If we say, ‘this new project you’ve just started has to be internationalized fully at the same time as developing all your features,’ the PM might just say, ‘no, I won’t do it. You’re going to wait for internationalization after we’ve produced our first release. And we’ll see how it goes after that.’”

Education is a key part of providing solutions that match the teams’ particular issues, according to Gary.

For example, a lot of developers are “instinctively afraid” of coding support for bidirectional locales, the scenario we gave earlier. They’ve never seen everything being mirrored, so they panic. In this case, Gary tells them about how the basic code will do most of the work for them, and walks them through the technical details.

“The educational part upfront helps developers relax and realize it’s not such a big deal to support bidirectional locales.”

  1. Continuous localization does cost more but contributes to customer success.

Yes, as you might have guessed already, continuous localization is going to be more expensive.

“Having to translate these tiny little packages, 10 words at a time, we definitely lose out on cost.” explains Gary. “We may end up paying 50% more overall.”

However, what this process allows them to do is get localized products out to customers every week instead of every quarter, which is what Cisco did in the past.

“Our customers are happier buying our products.CLICK TO TWEET

“We think of it as the cost upfront to gain their trust,” says Gary.

The added bonus is that development teams can also test and prove their internationalization at a faster rate, finding defects in their code much faster than before.

  1. Continuous localization canbe implemented with limited budget and time.

We asked Gary for his advice to smaller teams interested in trying out continuous localization, and this is what he proposed: take out a piece of paper, draw a line down the middle of the page. On one side, write down all the tools and processes that the development team already has in place today—“just a simple flow chart from A to Z of what takes place.” On the other side, write the same list, but for localization.

Now, draw a line around the elements that are similar between development and localization, and try to see if you can integrate those processes.

“Integrations are the key point to continuous localization,” emphasizes Gary.CLICK TO TWEET“You need to have tools that talk to each other.” He suggests to start making small changes by looking into open source tools or adapters that can get you there.

Here’s Gary’s example of a localization workflow using integratable tools:

  1. Continuous localization will only become more relevant and powerful in the future.

So far, people are responding positively to continuous localization.

“People are getting the message,” says Gary. “Dev teams are starting to think about how to accommodate localization from the beginning, and localization teams are thinking about how they can help developers localize right from the start. It’s like a symbiosis between the teams.”

These positive effects are far-reaching beyond the teams themselves.

As Gary explains, “continuous localization improves the quality of the source code and the locales, and ultimately, customers win. Everybody wins as a result from one simple action at the beginning.”

Gary is hopeful for the future of continuous localization. He wants to see technology being developed that products can be “churned out with localization at the blink of an eye” so that we can have “nearly-instantaneous localization.”

As for the end goal?

“Getting instant translations into the product and out to customers, almost as soon as it’s written. If we can achieve that, it would be the biggest win ever.


Here are Gary Lefman’s 9 takeaways for successfully implementing continuous localization:

    1. Gary’s role at Cisco is unique and focused on internationalization education.
    2. Continuous localization is necessary for today’s agile dev environment.
    3. Continuous localization is not just a system, but a new way of thinking about localization.
    4. Localizing well—whether waterfall or continuous—requires both expertise and experience in order to stay “agile.”
    5. Understand engineers’ pain points.
    6. Focus on education-based solutions.
    7. Continuous localization does cost more but contributes to customer success.
    8. Continuous localization can be implemented with limited budget and time.
    9. Continuous localization will only become more relevant and powerful in the future.

This article for originally posted by Kerry Lu on

Developer Tries to Fix Switch Game’s Bad Translation, Makes It Worse

A month ago, we brought you the news that Vroom in the Night Sky, one of the few Nintendo Switch games currently available, would be losing its highly questionable but ultimately adorable bad English translation and getting a rewrite. That rewrite is now here, and it’s… worse, somehow.

Pro localizer Clyde Mandelin has been tracking the saga of Vroom at his website Legends of Localization, and has meticulously cataloged the differences between the original version of the game that launched in some regions on March 3, and the current version.

The rewrite has fixed a few lines (most notably, “Buyed!” has been changed to the much more correct “Sold Out!” in the game’s shop), but it’s hurt others, and it’s also introduced misspellings and formatting errors.

Here’s a scene from the original version:

A little unnatural, yes, but you sorta see what they’re getting at. It’s clearly a “well, whaddya expect” sort of wisecrack. Maybe you could rewrite this as:

A Girl: Jeez, there’s nothin’ but sand here!

Her Blob: Well, I mean… it is the desert.

You know, just for example. I have also renamed the characters. If you don’t like that, maybe you could come up with a rewrite of your own. But anyway, here’s the “fixed” version:

Besides the fact that the sentence capitalization is lost, there’s no joke anymore. Now it just reads like weird Twitter.

Let’s stay in the ol’ desert. Original:

Again, you get what they’re going for, unnatural-sounding as it may be.

New version:

What the damn hell are you people talking about.

Vroom in the Night Sky had a bad translation, but somehow it all came out as almost good-bad, charming and silly in a way that matched the goofy tone of the game. Fixing the translation to proper English would have been understandable, but now it doesn’t have either. Tut.

This article was originally posted on Kotaku by Chris.

10 Tips on Transcreation

Transcreation is the process of adapting a creative campaign into another market with different linguistic and cultural “rules” whilst still keeping the overall tone and brand approach global.

Any creative marketing campaign would have had a lot of pre-planning, time and money going into it before embarking on the adaptation for the local markets; discussions between the creative team and the client develop over several long months, numerous meetings and dilemmas are faced before everybody is happy with the English copy.

When moving on to creating the copy for your other target markets, it would be a shame to rush and undermine all the hard work that has gone in to the English copy. It is important to understand that witty word puns/plays and even visuals often used in marketing campaigns are not very easy to adapt into another language or culture. To see this task as only translating a few words would be unwise. One has to make the end result (transcreation) look and feel as if it was conceived in the resulting language.

With that in mind, we have put together a few pointers that language teams within companies should consider for the process of transcreation, and that LSPs can share with clients as they consult and help determine what is necessary with the content.

1. Consider if it really is needed

As the process of transcreation is quite complex, it is important to understand when it is needed. In broad terms, the line between BTL (below the line, meaning internal communications etc.) and ATL (above the line, meaning material going into newspapers, television, and web etc.) can be seen as the dividing factor between translation and transcreation. For BTL the budgets are usually smaller and the client might not want to spend money on the higher transcreation rates.

On the other hand, not all ATL campaigns are necessarily very creative, but should still ideally receive the full transcreation treatment due to the fact that potentially millions of people can see the end result and thus all possible cultural issues and language barriers should be taken into consideration.

BTL can also be creative, but due to the format (maybe some creative headlines in a long copy brochure etc) or the platform (internal communications etc.) it is not usually given the transcreation treatment.

2. Cultural Consultation

Ideally, before embarking on the actual transcreation process, the concept should be tested and all possible issues already ironed out. It might be that the visuals (for example a wrong type of headscarf) are not quite right for your aimed markets, or it could be that the whole concept (for example references to kissing or dating) is not a good idea for some countries.

These examples might sound quite obvious and straightforward, but often, there are similar, yet less obvious nuances that can easily be missed if this step is not properly researced.

When the process of transcreation is started and the air/press dates are already booked, it is not exactly convenient having to start chasing approaches and visuals. Cultural consultation would often also reveal things about the competitor landscape in your aimed marked, which might change your approach as well.

3. Assets

At the beginning of the transcreation process, it is crucial to know what kind of media platforms the campaign will use. You should aim for consistency in every project and this might be hard to achieve if the copywriters do not know where exactly the headlines will be used.

We might have come up with a perfect line for a press advert, but due to certain restrictions, in digital banners for example, the line might not be usable. If this is clearly stated at the beginning of the project, the different character restrictions can be taken into consideration from the very beginning, the initial copy can be drafted so that it conforms to the requirements of different platforms.

4. Target audience

This can and will influence the language used a great deal. It is very important that we know the aimed target audience from the start, which could be revealed by just reading the copy. However, this might not always be the case and it is always best to have this confirmed.

5. Tone of voice

This is related to the target audience in the sense that it will affect the language we use. There should be some key words and ideas for the copywriters to consider. For example, we want it to sound “confident and determined” we do not want it to sound “boastful”. Pointing out and considering the tone of voice carefully will help the brand in establishing a global, easily recognisable sound and feel.

6. Visuals

In advertisement, the picture and the text should work together. Certain images will encourage the copywriters to pick particular words. Without images, one is working almost blindfolded. Therefore, when it comes to copy and transcreation, the visuals need to be available at the start of the process.

7. Briefing

All of the above (and few other points such as linguistic insights and brand vision) form the brief for copywriters. The briefing should be given time and careful consideration, as a properly written brief is already half the job done.

8. In-market based copywriters

As languages are always evolving, the assigned copywriters should always be in-market based. There are so many influences and trends, which can only truly be experienced if one lives in the country in question.

9. Time

There are quite a few issues to consider here and when talking about doing something creative, it is essential that it isn’t rushed. Even a simple press advert, consisting of a headline and body copy should be given a minimum of three working days to go through all the steps, from briefing to copywriting, from quality control to queries.

10. De-brief

As the global client most likely wants to be on top of the process and all the regions, they also need to understand the possible language barriers and cultural issues that have been faced in the transcreation. Take steps to ensure that the global client is aware of the reasons that have led us to take a certain approach and the cultural and language factors that determinated us to apply a certain transcreation approach.

*This article was originally posted on GALA by Mikko Väisänen, Transcreation Manager

Conversational User Experience: Language Learning with Duolingo

Chatbots are an ideal way to engage with a language-learning app, delivering a conversational UI for conversational solutions. Of course, text input and gestural interactions are also available.

The People Have Spoken

Duolingo is being used by so many people and for so many things! I know people who use it to learn French, German, Spanish, Italian, Vietnamese, Irish, Romanian, and more. This might be out of love of learning new languages, getting the hang of some phrases in advance of foreign travel, strengthening the kids’ school language learning, just wanting to converse with others in their own language on a more casual basis, or simply out of plain old curiosity.

For many, Duolingo is the “only game” in town.

This TED talk with Luis von Ahn about large-scale online collaboration will help you get your head around what Duolingo is about. But, honestly, the best way to experience Duolingo is to … start that conversation yourself Go for it!


Duolingo explains as you learn: Noun gender in Spanish is covered  as you use your own voice on a smartphone, for example.


Hey kids, you talkin’ to me? Italian lesson with voice input enabled.


More carrot than stick with the Irish lesson. There’s a change! Listen and then drag and drop the words to translate. Nice!


Activity stream showing my Duolingo progress.


Hey You! Your friendly Duo reminder on the smartphone!


Bring the Bitterballen. Learning with others can be fun too. Duolingo lets you try group learning as well as learning on your own.

This article was originally posted on Multilingual by