Global Careers: Military and Government Localization

For a long time, the United States relied upon its citizens and the world to communicate in English. English was considered to be the Lingua Franca, or common language, for all things government. A lot has changed in the past 20 years. Geo-politically, we have a greater need to speak and understand languages other than English as a means of national security. Domestically, as the citizens and residents of the United States become more diverse, our government is recognizing the importance of communicating in languages other than English as well.

With the War on Terror, international disturbances around the world, and the growth of cyber crime, language ability has become a hot commodity in government and military work. Foreign language speakers are needed for interpreting, translating, and monitoring. The difference between interpreting and translating comes down to whether the individual is converting spoken words (interpreting) or written words (translating). Because there is more and more content being created all the time, the need for translation services in the government is growing. To offset the cost of human resources, the government also makes use of machine translation technology. Especially where communications are not critical or there are massive amounts of information being monitored, it would be impossible to translate it all without the use of technology. More critical information or information that is going to the general public, like DMV manuals or census information, is translated by humans who are able to communicate the nuances of language and are more accurate than a machine can ever be.

Does a career in interpretation or translation with the government interest you? What are the qualifications for a job in this field? Most importantly, you need to be fluent in two or more languages and have strong writing skills in each language. While there are no requirements for a degree or certification, it is beneficial to have a degree in translation, language, linguistics or political science. Certification through the American Translators Association is also not a requirement but can help in some circumstances. Some schools offer translation or interpreting courses or certificate programs and classes that cover specific types of translation, including medical, business or legal.

What if you want to work for the government and work with translation and localization and don’t speak another language? There are plenty of opportunities to work in this field as a project manager or operational role where translation, interpretation and localization services are outsourced. LingPerfect Translations works across US government organizations to provide content for websites, communications and regulations and the government employees we work with don’t necessarily speak these languages, rather, they manage the process. Other employees that work with translators in the government space are content writers, curriculum creators and data scientists.
Clearly, there are many opportunities to work with the government in the field of translation and localization. If this is a field that interests you, you might want to take a peek at the https://www.usajobs.gov/.

Localization in our World: Finance for International Business Owners and Investors

Running an international business is daunting. Adding in the financial aspect of international business is another layer of complexity. That said, there are some basic things to think about when it comes to finance for international business. Whether you are starting a new business with an eye toward global expansion, are in the process of acquiring or merging with a business or are an investor looking to invest internationally, you need to consider these often overlooked details.

Let’s start with an example of a business, a start-up, selling goods or services to customers. At its most basic level, this could be a single-person enterprise, making artisanal widgets. When they start up, they are likely looking at ways to transact and sell their artisanal widgets locally, using a currency of their country of origin, this could even be cash/check-only. Cash and check are by far the most restrictive in terms of global reach because a customer would need to have access to cash or a checking account in your currency.

Eventually, the artisanal widget maker will likely get set up on a credit card system, like Square or Paypal, to make it easier for payments to come in. At this point, it’s all about creating more access and the focus will be on domestic customers. Now, let’s say there is an opportunity to go to a trade conference in Germany and you will bring artisanal widgets to sell. Many assume that payment processing for credit cards would automatically be global, but for many, you are limited to taking payments in the country where you set up your account. In this case, you will need to research where you can take payments from or process payments differently, for example sending an invoice to the customer so they can enter their card details over a secure web connection.

Outside of the payment areas, the artisanal widget maker may translate or localize the product instructions, marketing or their website for the country where they will be selling their products. In this case, it is essential to work with someone who is skilled at global websites to identify not only common issues like international support for other languages or common mistakes like naming your artisanal widget something offensive/funny in another language, but other details that might get overlooked like how the widget pricing is displayed in the country. A skilled and experienced localization provider, like LingPerfect Translations, will support the international finance of your business. Some businesses opt to offer their products online via marketplaces like Etsy or Amazon. Each of the marketplaces serves a limited number of geographies and has its own way of calculating pricing for international and while some offer translation or localization. You should definitely get some advice from an experienced agency who uses real, human translators, as this will help maintain your brand voice and consistency.

Moving along to the next level of international finance, we have an opportunity for our North American Artisanal Widget Maker to be acquired by a European Artisanal Widget Maker. From a financial perspective, the buyer will want to start thinking early on about details. With fluctuations in currency, does it make sense to make an offer in dollars or euros? What are the risks and what kinds of caveates do you want to put in place for currency fluctuations? After the sale happens, there is an international alignment that needs to occur that touches all aspects of the companies’ products, branding (digital, social, hard-copy, etc), and HR. Potential international considerations would be where banking is done. Does it make sense to have separate operations for the European and American Artisanal Widget Makers or is it best to consolidate in one bank account in one country? Do you set product pricing in USD or Euro? When displaying on the website, are the prices hard-coded or are they dynamic according to the country of the viewer? Other financial concerns would be where to store and ship Artisanal Widgets and how import/export and country taxes are calculated. The final area we will address is HR. As you merge and grow, you will need to decide on whether to align salary and benefits and how taxes affect your employees. Ultimately, when it comes to the cost of adding new employees and where to place them, you will need to consider these variances which are based on currency exchange, local cost of living, and differences in income tax structures. We will address additional areas of international finance in future blog posts including taking a look at careers and various currencies including cryptocurrencies and how they may affect your international business.

As you can see, there are a lot of considerations when it comes to expanding or acquiring a business internationally. At LingPerfect Translations, we advise many businesses as they go along this path. Feel free to reach out about your international business plans and we will help you create your roadmap to global success.

What is the difference between Localization, Globalization and Internationalization?

LOCALIZATION

Localization is the modification of a product or content to the language or other specification of a particular locale. The process of localization involves changing content to align to what obtains in the region of the target audience. This can include converting currencies and units of measurement and changing the presentation of dates, phone numbers and addresses. This could also mean changing the designation of a cultural group or country for political reasons; for instance, many residents of Taiwan will resent being referred to as “Chinese,” preferring instead the appelation “Taiwanese.”

Localization can also involve alterations to graphical content; most images are of a culture-specific nature, and therefore need to be slightly altered (or completely replaced) in order to seem natural to the intended viewer. The kind of clothing being worn by people in a stock photo, for instance, can immediately tie the content to a specific region of the world. Likewise, a color with positive connotations in one culture may carry negative connotations in a different one. Symbols and icons are another graphical element that are far from universal and may therefore require replacement.

Localization also involves certain aspects of language that are not strictly covered by translation. For instance, idiomatic expressions and proverbs—if not omitted from the source material from the start—will require replacement by a comparable one from the target destination, assuming a suitable correlative actually exists.

In summary, Localization therefore aims to give a product the feeling that it was produced solely for the target audience, irrespective of culture and language.

GLOBALIZATION

Competition—both domestic and international—has motivated many companies to begin targeting global audiences; for these companies then it is imperative that their products (especially in the case of interactive software and applications) are compatible with their global consumers’ operating systems, web browsers or other local specifications.

For the most part this process revolves around the translation into the local language of any textual components that the user is likely to interact with, including menus, toolbars and dialogue boxes. Globalization also involves the various ways in which onscreen text is to be sorted or displayed.

Because this process is mostly linguistic, it makes little sense to recreate applications from scratch every time they need to be prepared for a specific market. Instead, the application to be globalized should initially be coded in such a way that text can easily be replaced without affecting its underlying (non-textual) components.

Globalization is therefore a process that is used to address the challenges of logistics that an organization faces when it expands its content and assets into new markets with different perspectives and cultural beliefs.

The processes involved in globalization include carrying out research and identifying global markets, validating and selecting these markets, formalizing global business requirements, translating into the target audience language and putting their culture into consideration while aligning it and getting support for internalization.

INTERNATIONALIZATION

Internationalization involves planning for and implementing products and services such that their localization for the target audience and culture will be easy. A blend of international expertise and technicality is needed to pull this off. New systems are deployed in the process while the ones in use are reengineered. Internationalization helps to ensure that when you roll out your services in the selected target countries, there is cost efficiency in the way you do business.

Internalization processes include making illustrations for documents whereby text is easy to change to another language, creating space in user interfaces in case there is a need for more space during translation into another language, making web site graphics and print such that their translation is not expensive, using examples with global meaning, using tools that are able to give support to international character sets and making sure that there is data space in software so that messages can be translated from a source language with single-byte character codes to the language of the target audience language that has to make use of multiple-byte character codes.

Translation & Localization – How can you tell if your content needs localization? When is ONLY translation needed?

The time will come when you have content that needs localizing. You may have this realization because your company has an international presence, or because you want to expand your services into new markets. At this point, it will be clear that in order for your content to travel easily and connect with your target audience, it will have to be localized. In order to accomplish this, a number of steps will be necessary.

Localization involves adapting the content in question so that it provides an equal amount of value to end-users in a new locale. This may include altering the names of currencies or other region-specific attributes such as employing a different color palette. It may also require the text to be translated from its original language into that of the target destination.

HOW TO LOCALIZE YOUR CONTENT

There are several ways to guarantee the usefulness of your content across cultural and linguistic barriers. These include the following.

Ensure that the language of your content is tailored to your audience. Modifying the language to suit that of your target audience does not necessarily require a complete conversion into a foreign language like French or Mandarin; sometimes this may be as simple as modifying the spelling of certain words only (as when differentiating UK and US spelling). Other times it may require changing the phrasing of sentences that are idiomatic.

Formatting & Design

When localizing your website, brochure or other content, formatting and design alone can tip-off your audience that you are involved in international business. For this reason, when making formatting and design choices you must be mindful of the sometimes-significant differences in cultural attitudes that can positively or negatively bias the reactions of your intended audience with regard to your content.

A successful localization should conform to the local audience’s social conventions in a way that seems as natural as possible. Ensure that your design is done appropriately such that it will align with the people you are intending to reach. Create graphics and work with icons that are understood by your target audience.

Take the culture of your target audience into consideration. The visual content and the colors of the people you are trying to get across to should be put into consideration. In different cultures, visual metaphors and colors have different meanings; therefore, carry out some research before you decide on the ones to use. You need to do this so that you do not offend the sensitivities of the people with which you are trying to communicate.

WHEN ONLY TRANSLATION IS NEEDED

Oftentimes only translation is needed when you just need to substitute words from one language to the other. Therefore, one has to be careful in differentiating between localization and translation. Localization has to do with translating and modifying a product or service offering from the source language to the language of the target audience, with the modification being the key aspect of it. Translation simply involves converting the source language to the target language such that it can be understood in the proper context.