The other day, my son opened up the new Amazing Spiderman game for his Xbox and began to play. Just like I used to be, he tears off the packaging, tosses the instructions aside, and just dives into the game without any hint of the game objective. Now that I am a bit older (I won’t say how much), I like to sit back and take my time reading instructions before going any further with a project (or video game, or cooking, etc.). I decided to pick up the instructions and learn a little about the game so that I could jump in and show him that his old man still has a little bit of talent left.
Back in the day, instructions came in all different languages. You only had to flip to the pages of the directions that you understood and you would then know that you are reading your native language. When you opened up instructions for anything, you could see how to build it in Japanese, Chinese, French, English, Spanish, etc. Nowadays, companies try to cut costs and although it seems minor, reducing instruction manuals by a few sheets does save money. How then can a company globalize a product with only one set of instruction manuals? After a little research, I was stunned and amazed about an industry that is well-known to businesses but out of sight and out of mind to individuals such as myself.
Translation and language localization companies – these companies have been around for a long time and have become a gold mine to corporations looking to get their finished product to consumers in multiple countries. So how then do companies produce the correct materials for the countries in which the product will be used? I was able to speak with the founder of GoLocalise (David Garcia-Gonzalez) who helped me understand a little better.
David explained that companies need to find a one-stop shop for translation. He stated that his company manages projects from beginning to end and has actually worked with translating commercials for video games available for Xbox. Once a company determines what their target audience is, a company like GoLocalise is able to translate the materials for the target audience.
Once of the fascinating things that David pointed out to me was that materials not only need to be translated, but they must ensure the proper language localization. Language localization is the process of translating material for the culture, not just the language. Translating can be done word for word; however, when this is done, it will not make sense to someone reading it in a different language. The content must be reformatted so that it makes sense for the culture.
Seems like a boring lesson just because I wanted to school my kid; however, I guess you never stop learning. Next time you pick up a manual, just think about where the product was produced and the people at companies like GoLocalise who made sure that you can understand it.