Rethinking Context in Localization

Nobody would deny that context has a salient relevance in translation endeavors, and on a broader scope, in understanding language in use. But on second thought, “context” is a more complex notion that refers to different levels of texts and reality. Is context only what surrounds a word or an expression? How to take into account the social practices where texts are used? Is it always possible to consider all aspects of context? In this article, we will outline some possible answers to these questions and think about their relevance for localization projects.

Managing Context

When examining context, we have to imagine it in a general sense. It doesn’t only refer to contextual placement of words or texts, but also to the people that participate in a given communication act, the setting where it happens, how, when, and why. So when it comes to localization projects, collecting this context data has a positive impact on the analysis and selection of the best workflows, procedures, services or strategies of a task or project.

Job briefings are the documents that support this need for situational context. They include a summary of who the client is, which texts will be processed and their purpose, what’s the target audience, expectations, etc. Sometimes, job briefings also incorporate the style guide or any other linguistic preference.

But how does all this information add value to a localization or translation project? For instance, knowing who the client is—e.g. a direct client or an LSP—informs Project Managers (PM) about possible expectations or the level of familiarity with the industry processes. So, for example, to a  client who is a newcomer, a PM can suggest extra quality assurance steps to reduce risks for very sensitive documents. On another note, having information about where the localized texts will appear—say a mobile app v. desktop app, or a marketing campaign for social media v. graphic media campaign—can help PMs choose the right linguistic team for the task, with experience not only in IT or Marketing, but in mobile apps or social media.

Context Reliance

We know context is crucial because it sometimes draws the line between inaccurate and precise translations. A visual reference, a note, a video, all can help linguists determine the gender of a character, the meaning of a sentence, the reference of a noun, etc. This is why every project, no matter its topic or intention, can benefit from having references (e.g., videos, websites of the product or the client, related documents) or the source text (the original document). These materials help linguists maintain consistency, choose terminology, check format or typography, and so on.

Other dimensions of context play a role in translating humor, for example. In this case, culture, age and idiosyncrasy of the target audience is crucial to translate puns and jokes in a way that is funny but also appropriate. The same can be said, for instance, about the reliance of subtitles on audiovisual materials, like in movies, series or video games. Being able to see and listen to gestures, movements and tones of voice help translators and editors contextualizing dialogues and narratives.

Teamwork and Communication

As we can see, there are a lot of resources that can address the need of contextualizing texts, projects and clients. However, a realistic approach to localization endeavors needs to take into account that contexts, as complex as they are, are never completely saturable. This means that sometimes, despite supportive documents or briefs, meanings, wordplays, and references can be difficult to capture. It’s in these scenarios where a solid communication approach based on exchange and teamwork can boost creativity and problem-solving. Research, discussion, debate, and having a comfortable framework for asking questions to teammates and clients always help find collectively the best option for each case.


Are Stylistic Changes Purely Preferential?

When it comes time to polish a translation project before finalizing it, sometimes editors, reviewers, and clients make changes not for accuracy’s sake, but for style’s sake. Stylistic changes can impact the quality of a translation and it’s important to understand how and why these changes happen. Before we examine whether or not stylistic changes are purely preferential, let’s take a closer look at what preferential changes and stylistic changes are. 

Preferential Changes vs Stylistic Changes

Both preferential and stylistic changes are types of changes to a translation that may not seem necessary at first glance, yet both types of changes play an important role in the translation process. A preferential change is a type of alteration that corrects an element that is not necessarily wrong. Preferential changes tend to reflect the preference of the person correcting the content or the client’s preferences. Usually, these preferences are related to terminology, with a client preferring a certain term over another, even if both terms can be used correctly.

A stylistic change on the other hand is a correction that is meant to improve how the text flows and focuses on style. Stylistic changes can also reflect the style of the person doing the review or client preferences. 

Are Stylistic Changes Purely Preferential?

In the translation industry, most language service providers use a three step process to guarantee a high quality translation end product. This means that after the translation step, the text will be passed to both an editor and a proofreader. In some cases, the client performs their own review of the translation with their internal team who understand their own unique style preferences. Either way, these editors and reviewers may make different changes to the text to improve the overall quality of the translation. Sometimes this is because they’ve spotted a mistake in meaning (which must be fixed), or the change is about grammar, punctuation, or other elements. 

However, there are other times when they introduce changes that are usually referred to as stylistic or preferential. These changes can generate a lot of confusion and controversy among linguists because preferential changes can involve correcting something that isn’t actually “wrong”. 

How is Quality Impacted by Stylistic and Preferential Changes?

How impactful a stylistic change is depends on the type of text and its function. If you’re translating a recognized author, are trying to persuade someone to do something, or are attempting to explain something clearly for a specific target audience (such as children), style really does matter. Finding the right style is key, so how can a linguist always approach a translation with the right style in mind? One of the best ways to start off a translation project on the right foot, is if the client can provide a style guide to the translation team. This guide should specify the tone and style the client wants their translated texts to have. Their style guide should also house specific terms that they prefer to use and any terms that need to be avoided. Following the TEP process can also help keep a translation project on track while maintaining high levels of accuracy.


How to Optimize Your Localization Budget

You always want to get the most bang for your buck and it’s no different when it comes to your localization budget. Let’s look at a few ways you can optimize your localization process, and as a result your budget, so that your budget is working as hard as possible to get the results you need. 

1. Use Technology to Your Advantage

When it comes to your localization budget, technology is on your side. While technology can’t quite replace a human touch, it can help your localization expert do their job more efficiently and accurately. From translation management systems (TMs), to CAT tools, to quality assurance tools, you can make it easier for your localization team to do their jobs, which can save you money in the long run. 

For example, CAT tools are an asset that can make localization work faster and easier, as they can help your localization partner increase their productivity, catch mistakes, achieve consistency, and eliminate repetitive translations. A CAT (computer assisted translation) tool accomplishes this by segmenting the text that requires translation and then presents the segments in a way that is easier to translate, which saves the localization expert time and potentially saves the client money. 

Similarly quality assurance tools can scan bilingual files to look for linguistic and formatting errors, which is especially helpful when performing a final review on a large project with a lot of text or files to review. A quality assurance tool can also help uncover and remedy inconsistencies among files translated or edited by different teams of vendors.

2. Create and Maintain Valuable Resources

Creating a term base, translation memory, and style guide can save a lot of time and confusion. All brands have their style and terminology preferences. By keeping an up to date term base, translation memory, and style guide, your localization partner will have the tools they need to do their job correctly from the get go. When you have and maintain these resources, you’ll save time and money by not needing to answer unnecessary style and term questions and by not having to clean up easily avoided mistakes later. 

3. Take Time to Understand the Needs of the Project 

Before you dive into a project, and allocate where your budget will go, spend some time really getting to know the needs of the project. Spending time upfront planning project costs can help you avoid expensive surprises down the road. 

Do a deep dive into the project requirements. For example, you need to know if the project requires that your team do additional quality assurance checks or if the document requires that a specialist works on the layout so that the final translated document looks exactly as the original (also known as DTP). If you’re not clear on project requirements from the beginning, the project may be quoted incorrectly and you’ll find that additional costs will be necessary later. 

If you’re unsure of what you need to do to make the project a success, talk to your localization partner, they will know how to establish the right workflow.

Everything you need to know when planning a voice-over project

Planning a Voice-over Project? Here’s What You Need to Know!

If you’re planning a voice-over project, you may be feeling a bit overwhelmed at all the work that lies ahead of you. One of the best ways to efficiently tackle a voice-over project is to have a clear plan in place. These are some of the important elements you need to know about, so you can properly manage a voice-over project from start to finish. 


Before you can begin recording a voice-over, you need a solid script. This text document, created for the purpose of a voice-over recording, contains the text that needs to be recorded. A script can also provide additional comments to be taken into account, like special instructions or clarifications for a specific utterance (we’ll dive into this issue further in a minute). 

The script can already be in the language you need it to be or you may need to translate it first. For example, if you have already created an e-learning course in English that you want to translate into Spanish, the script will need to undergo translation first. It’s recommended that the client reviews the final translations and approves of the translated script before the recording step begins. This will prevent future updates to the script and recordings. 


If your voice-over project corresponds to a video, you’ll need to confirm whether or not the audio needs to be synchronized with the video. This process is referred to as timed vs untimed voice-over and will play a factor in how the script reader paces themselves while speaking. Determining this beforehand can help provide an accurate quote since these two types are quoted differently. Timed-voice is generally a little more expensive because it takes more time to make and to time it perfectly.


Still, looking for the right voice-over talent for your project? This video shares some helpful tips for finding the right fit!

It’s important that you select the right voice-over talent for your project. Not all voices will necessarily be suitable for your specific type of project, so make sure you align the project purpose with the right voice. Let’s say the target audience of your project are children, then the selected voice should sound appealing to them. In this case, a woman with a soft and soothing voice may be better suited for the job. Requesting samples of the talent’s work will help you gauge whether or not they are the best voice for your project. 

File Names and Formats

If you prefer using a specific naming convention, label, or file format, it’s important to stay consistent. Some projects require several audio files to be recorded, which can be challenging to keep organized. Continuing with the example of the e-learning course, you may have an audio recording for each slide. Having a naming convention will enable easy identification and prevent time spent searching for the right file later on.

Instructions or Clarifications

You want your voice-over project to be as effective as possible, so you should always communicate your expectations to the voice-over talent. What might be a given for you, might not be for them. Your voice talent should know your preferred pronunciation for acronyms and special terms, if numbers on a list should be read or not, and if special emphasis is needed somewhere, among other important details. You can create a document with two columns, where the first one contains the text to be recorded, and the second one states any necessary clarifications the voice-over artist talent should be aware of.

What is proofreading and why is it necessary in translation?

What is proofreading and why is it a necessary step in translation?

Every translator and translation team has their own process in place for delivering what they feel is top quality work. While some translators follow a two-part process that involves translation and proofreading, at Terra Translations we suggest a three step process that includes editing. At first glance, editing and proofreading may seem somewhat redundant, so let’s look at why that isn’t the case, how these steps vary, and why proofreading is such a necessary step in the translation process. 

The Difference Between Editing and Proofreading

The point of undergoing both editing and proofreading is to ensure accuracy and create a quality translation, so it’s not surprising that many people use these terms interchangeably. However, there is a difference between editing and proofreading, and they should be treated as separate activities. 

Editing is when you execute changes to the translation and make suggestions to improve the overall quality of the product. Ideally, editing will lead to the translation becoming more consistent, sharper, and error free. An editor typically takes on the following responsibilities: 

  • Doing a bilingual review between the original text and the translated version
  • Identifying and correcting any translation errors
  • Pointing out inconsistencies and adjusting to better suit market and audience needs
  • Ensuring the correct use of language
  • Confirming that the translated message is conveyed correctly in regards to both language and culture
  • Double check that the style is correct and make suggestions to improve it

Proofreading focuses on correcting any superficial errors in the translated content, such as spelling or grammar errors, formatting, punctuation, or syntax. The proofreading process begins once you have a potential “final” version of the content to work with. As this is the final step of the process, the proofreader should read the text and try to make sense of it as if they themselves were the target audience. This is especially helpful as they are the final pair of eyes on the content before submission to the client or publication.

The Importance of Proofreading

Proofreading is such an important step because during translation and editing, your original text can undergo many variations as it is reworded into a different language. When translating, the goal is not to translate word by word but to think how the same message would be said in the target language. During this process, translators may copy structures seen in the source language unintentionally and when the editor is fixing issues like this, they may introduce unintentional mistakes such as typos, double spaces, a missing word, repeated articles, and misplaced commas. These are the type of mistakes that ideally a proofreader will spot and fix.

Proofreading is a valuable step in the translation process and helps lead to an error-free translation product that illustrates how carefully translated the work is and what high quality work the translator does. 

When Should You Proofread?

The proofreading step should be the last part of your quality assurance process. You won’t dive as deep during proofreading as you did during editing. Proofreading gives you a fresh opportunity to catch any mistakes not found in the editing stage and as you’re more focused on looking for superficial errors than making massive changes to the language and expression, it can be easier to catch small errors such as grammatical or spelling ones. 

Ideally, you’ll have a second translator carry out the editing and a third translator take care of the proofreading process, as a fresh set of eyes can more easily spot errors that the first translator and editor may have overlooked. Proofreading is a challenging task and it can be tempting to make changes relating to personal preference, but at that stage the translator should focus on just fixing mistakes and syntax issues.


The Unique Traits of The Brazilian Market

Brazil is a beautiful and vibrant country with a rich history and culture. If you have your sights set on expanding in the Brazilian market, then you first need to understand the unique traits of Brazilian culture and what makes their people tick. To prepare, you must have an idea of the way people are, what is important to them, what they like, and how they live. 

The Brazilian market has a lot of potential for businesses looking to expand their reach. To start doing successful business within this market, companies need to ensure they adopt the right approach when entering Brazil. Some adaptations may be necessary to appeal to the Brazilian people, but those changes are very doable if you know how to identify them. Let’s examine a few important facets of Brazilian culture that businesses should be aware of. 

Who They Are

When Americans were asked to describe the Brazilians they know, their adjective choices really painted a clear picture. The most commonly used adjectives Americans felt described Brazilians were: warm, open, friendly, happy, conversational, vibrant, loving, family-oriented, accepting, giving, kind, welcoming, honest, bold, open-hearted, caring, touchy-feely, loud, energetic, and sharing. They were also described as having a love for life. 

When preparing marketing materials, entertainment content, and products to launch in Brazil, keep these adjectives and traits in mind. They can tell you a lot about what the priorities are for the Brazilian people. 

Informal Style

Don’t forget to keep things casual. Brazilian people don’t like formal styles, they usually take a more humane approach to their interactions. This tendency to be more casual translates into their approach to business as well. In Brazilian society, family and personal relationships are extremely important and these values find their way into the business world. Think carefully about how you can build strong personal connections with your Brazilian business partners and customers, as too formal of an approach may push them away. 

Mobile Focused

Brazilians are on the go often and you should keep that in mind when creating content. Because Brazilians in big cities spend a lot of time traveling by subway, train, or bus, such as on their commutes to work, they heavily rely on their mobile phones for entertainment and communication. They are especially fond of social media, with more than 120 million people out of the 210 million population using both WhatsApp and Facebook. On average, Brazilians spend nine hours connected each day. This high level of connection means that if you want to succeed in the Brazilian market, you need to be ready to adapt your content to mobile devices. Whether you produce video entertainment, e-learning courses, or video games, if you want to thrive in the Brazilian marketplace, you need to keep their high mobile device usage in mind. While this is just a brief overview of what Brazilian culture is like, it helps illustrate the differences you should be aware of and prioritize when you prepare to pursue localization of your content or products. You can thrive in the Brazilian market, as long as you keep this market’s unique traits top of mind.


New to the Industry? Get Ready with this Localization Starter Pack

Does this dialogue look familiar? Or when you read “TM” and “TB”, do you think in trademarks and terabytes? Don’t worry if you can relate to the latter. It’s common for professionals that enter the localization industry to feel a little bit overwhelmed with the usual jargon LSPs use every day. “LSP” is another acronym, but crucial. Language Service Providers are companies that help people, institutions and businesses with their communication needs, providing translation, localization, and many other services that support these endeavors.

Recently, Terra Translations prepared a 101 Seminar to offer general insight to people interested in localization and serve as guidance for industry newcomers so they may smoothly kick-off this fascinating journey of languages, teams and IT. Here we’ll share some of those basic tips, just in case you find yourself in the need of stuffing your own freshman translation backpack.

Starting Line

LSPs are the setting where the action takes place. There are very different types of LSPs, depending on size, location, domain expertise, and offered languages. Some localization companies are global and provide a wide range of services in hundreds of languages, while others specialize in one or a few languages or industries.

MMLSPMassive Multiple Language Service Provider
MLSPMultiple Language Service Provider
RMLSPRegional Multiple Language Service Provider
SLSPLocal In-Country Single-Language Service Provider

No matter their size, localization companies necessarily perform the functions of sales, to establish business relationships with clients, and of Vendor Management (VM). VMs manage and recruit professionals and providers. The other crucial function is the one Project Managers (PMs) play. Let’s take a deeper look at their work.

The Axis: Project Managers

If LSPs are the scenography, PMs are the leading actors of the play. Their function is crucial because they analyze and tackle projects, but also oversee project workflows, considering budget, human and IT resources, time, risks, etc. Surrounding PMs and localization projects, there are—again—a lot of acronyms referring to services and other expressions of day-to-day work. Perhaps the most common ones are TEP (translation, editing, proofreading) and EOB (end of business). If interested, you can find more acronyms and their meaning in the list below:


Tools Matter

Entering the industry implies embracing new and ubiquitous tools: the computer-assisted translation (CAT) tools. As with LSPs, there are hundreds of different CAT tools covering different needs, but they all share the same core. They divide source text in strings while displaying source and target text in a bilingual view, making the job easier for linguists. They also integrate translation memories (TM), term bases (TB) and quality assurance (QA) tools features, among many, many other functions. Being familiar with one tool will really help understand the rest of them.

To sum up, we propose these three tips as a starter pack:

  1. Be patient with acronyms and ask or search if you don’t know one. You’ll eventually become one of the characters of the vignette.
  2. Be curious about what PMs do, how, and why. No matter what your job in the industry is, it will be impacted somehow by project management.
  3. Embrace CAT Tools. They are super fun and helpful allies. Maybe you will want to be instantly proficient at three or more, but better do as the ring says: one tool to rule them all. Once you really master one application, you will find the others very similar and accessible.

Good luck!

How long does a translation project take?

How Long Does a Translation Project Take?

When you need translation work done, it can be tempting to want to speed up the timeline a bit. Who doesn’t want to wrap up an exciting project as quickly as possible? While these feelings are understandable, trying to cut corners and rush through translation work can lead to less than desired results. Let’s take a look at how long an average translation project takes to complete, as well as how to speed up the process in an effective way. 

How Long Does the Average Translation Project Take to Complete?

How long a translation project takes depends greatly on the word count of the documents that you need translated. On average, a human translator can output 300 words per hour or 2,500 words per day. You also need to factor in some extra time for self-review of the work. After completion of the translation, giving the translator an extra day or two (depending on the final word count) provides time for them to proofread their work completely and allows them to approach their work with a fresh mind to make sure everything is polished.

Of course, this estimate is not a guarantee, but it can give you a general idea of how long a translation project can take to finish.

What Can Affect the Length of the Project?

There are many factors that can affect how long a translation project can take. Here are a few of them to take into consideration when trying to estimate how fast you can get a project completed.

  • The complexity of the text
  • Research requirements 
  • Experience level of the translators
  • Availability of the translator(s) and their current workload
  • Technical issues
  • Linguistic resources
  • Extensive workflow (edition, proofreading, DTP)
  • If a project involves more than one language

How to Speed Up the Process

If you’re looking to speed up your translation project timeline, without sacrificing quality, there are a few elements that can make the process go smoother and quicker. 

While it may be tempting to request a translator work longer hours in order to hasten their turnaround, we don’t advise this. Translation work requires deep focus and attention to detail. You don’t want someone who is overtired to work on your translation project. That’s how mistakes can happen

The Takeaway

While it’s impossible to nail down exactly how long a translation project will take without consulting your translation team, you can generally expect translators to output around 2,500 words per day. That being said, trying to cut corners in order to speed up your timeline can lead to quality issues. There are some legitimate steps you can take to help a translator work faster, like implementing CAT tools, so chat with your translation team about what resources they need to help you meet your timeline goals and to get the job done the right way.


The Benefits of Offering Multilingual Customer Support

While the customer may not always be right, they do always deserve the chance to receive quality customer support. Thanks to this digital age we’re living in, your customers have access to plenty of your competitors. To stand out from the pack, you want to ensure they have a good customer experience. This is where multilingual customer support can come to the rescue. Let’s look at the benefits of multilingual customer support and how you can implement it in an affordable way. 

Customers Feel More Comfortable

One of the main benefits of providing multilingual customer support is that you can make your customers feel way more comfortable by providing them with support in their own language. This can especially come in handy when trying to solve a problem the customer is experiencing. Even if a problem hasn’t arised, you can gain a new customer by answering any of their questions they may have about making a purchase with your business in a language that they can easily understand. 

Increases Trust and Loyalty

To keep your customers coming back for more, you’ll want to take steps to increase your brand loyalty. You see a much higher profit when your customers return compared to trying to secure new customers. When you provide your customers with support in their native language, you not only build trust and respect with that customer, but you begin to build that trust within their community. A recent survey found that 67% of customers reported they would switch brands due to a poor customer experience, so providing strong customer support services is key to keeping customers loyal. 

Gives You a Competitive Advantage

Offering multilingual customer support can give your brand a major professional advantage. Intercom found that 70% of their end users felt more loyal to businesses who offered customer support in their native language and that 29% percent of businesses actually lost clients because they didn’t offer multilingual customer support. There is ample opportunity for brands to differentiate themselves from their competition by offering multilingual support, as not enough brands offer this to their customers. 

Grows Customer Base and Sales

SoGoSurvey found that 62% of customers are more likely to tolerate problems with a product if they can access customer support in their native language and 58% are willing to wait longer for customer support in their native language. These numbers show just how easy it is to retain customers and grow sales by offering multilingual customer support.

How to Offer Multilingual Customer Support

Providing multilingual customer support for all of your customers can seem like an overwhelming venture to take on. The good news is, you don’t need to hire live support staff that speaks every language that your customers do. You can start small by targeting your top markets, using chatbots, and implementing an email support system with the help of translators. All of these options provide affordable solutions for creating a multilingual customer support strategy that can help keep your customers happy, engaged, and coming back for more.


Translation Memories: Create, Use, Maintain

Translation memories (TMs) are a recurring star in localization workflows. They can help both clients and translators save time and costs, ensure consistency, and serve as a consultation source. They may be a giving resource, but TMs need to be managed carefully and systematically in order to leverage their utilities and potential. Let’s take a look at how a TM develops throughout time and the best practices for dealing with it.

Too Many Cooks Won’t Spoil the Broth

On some occasions, a TM begins when translators start working on a document from a client or account. While translating, the source segments and their corresponding target text are stored in the same bilingual databases TMs are stored. In other instances, it’s possible to create a TM using past translations with the alignment function or reusing old TMs. With the alignment feature, the CAT tool compares an original document with its translation, finding alignment pairs and storing them in a TM.

After their creation and during the course of projects, a lot of people can have access and modify the TM. For example, not only translators or editors, but also project managers (PMs) may be in charge of overseeing it. Sometimes, due to compatibility, a PM exports, imports, or exchanges TMs, changing formats or settings. The client’s reviewers can also proofread and insert changes in TMs. To keep a useful and healthy resource despite the many people that work with it is possible through good practices of TM management.

Maintaining a TM

In regards to linguistic quality, the role of quality assurance (QA)  managers and editors is crucial. By defining stylistic preferences and reviewing projects, they ensure that documents and hence TMs are consistent, which reduces risks and errors. It’s also possible to entrust TMs proofreading for important clients or accounts, to keep them updated and free of typos and omissions.

Additionally, to avoid error propagation, PMs and vendors need to be cautious with locked segments and context matches that sometimes are not under scope. It’s important to unlock and correct them or let the PMs know that there are errors so that they can evaluate the course of action.

Most TMs can be exported as bilingual files in xliff formats, which allows running QA checks in CAT Tools or in QA automation software to fix consistency or terminology errors, numeric mismatches, typos, tags, etc.

Best Practices

A TM can store years of work, the effort of localization professionals, hours of research, translation, and review. So such a valuable resource implies it’s not affordable to lose it. Keeping backups is a mandatory action when dealing with TMs, such as saving a copy on more than one cloud-based storage or in a local disk. Moreover, being organized with TMs, but also with term bases, references, style guides or whichever resource in hand, we’ll help make them easily available. Defining a naming convention for TMs can be a great place to start: will you organize TMs by account, language pair or domain subject? What’s the best fit for your workflows? Besides, filling thoroughly metadata info will keep TMs classified and easy to find.