How does an application localizer translator differ from a regular translator

…and what do they have in common

The manufacturer of appliances needs to translate the instructions for household appliances, the contract for the lease of the premises in which he will sell these appliances, and also localize the site in order to sell products not only in an offline store, but also on the Internet.

Although all these tasks fall under the concept of “special translation” (read – do not apply to the translation of texts of works of art), the first two requests, the translation of instructions and the contract, are performed by translators of technical and legal texts, and localizers are engaged in the translation of the store’s website. The term “localization” covers not only translation, but also cultural and linguistic adaptation of the material, as well as voice acting, image replacement, graphics redrawing and much more, so a localizer translator often works in a team with other specialists.

Work on quality begins before the translation is launched. At the preparation stage, the localization specialist asks the customer for all the necessary information (the affected texts, references, glossary, style guide, the product itself) and forms a lockit, that is, a localization package.

The localization package is:


The software itself (at least in the form of a pdf file or screenshots) / a link to download the application from the stores / access to an online service / test build, etc.


UI elements: buttons, menus, commands, banners, system messages, dialog boxes; descriptions for stores; articles, news and other marketing materials.


The localizer of product materials will need previous versions of the translation, instructions, screenshots and pictures, videos, in the case of game applications – descriptions of the universe, plot and mechanics, that is, all accompanying materials that will help in the work.


All key terms with explanation; words for which there is already a translation; names of buttons/sections/menus/commands; abbreviations and abbreviations; repetitive designs, etc. The glossary ensures consistency in translation.


Style instructions that reflect the “voice of the brand” (the tone and intonation of the story, the mission and values ​​of the company, the target audience, the emotions and associations that the brand should evoke).

Technical requirements, text design features and other issues for which there are no strict rules in the target language:

  • Typographic symbols: dash form – long (-), short (-) or even a hyphen (-), quotation marks – “herringbones” or “paws”, digit separator in numerals – non-breaking space (33 555) or comma (33.555), the decimal separator is a comma (33,000.55) or a period (33,000.55).

  • Regional language standards: monetary units (currency of the country of the text of the original or translation), time format (12 hours / 24 hours) and dates (MM.DD.YYYY / DD.MM.YYYY / YYYY.MM.DD), telephone number decoration ( for example, through “+7” or “8”) and addresses (from smaller to larger or from larger to smaller), the system of measures (imperial or metric).

  • Other cases: capitalization, addressing the user – on “you” or “you”, interface elements – leave in the original language, translate or duplicate the translation, that is, “Link button” / “Connect” button / “Link (Connect)” button , limits on the number of characters – yes / no, tags and variables – for example, variables of the form {0}, {link}, %@, %d, %s etc. transfer to the translation in its original form; type variables {#word word word} translate into the language of the country for which the translation is being performed.

The localizer translator not only knows what materials the localization kit consists of, but also stores these materials in a convenient and understandable way.

Let’s take a mobile application for iOS using the Swift programming language. Its localization can be implemented natively in the Xcode development environment or using a cloud service with integration (Phrase, Smartcat, Crowdin, Localise, POEditor, Transifex, etc.). In the first case, the materials can be stored, for example, in a Google table with columns ID/Key (Line code), Source (original text), Target (translated text) and notes (comments). The developer will enter the translation into XCode from the table with his hands.

Storage of localization materials

Storage of localization materials

In the second case, the localizer works in a CAT system for managing translations, all materials are stored in this system, and content exchange with developer tools is automated.

A localizing translator knows the nuances of localizing product materials.

(a) Blind translation
The localizer often translates without context. In order to adequately translate individual phrases, he goes through the client’s path on his own or asks the developer for screenshots.

For example, in different contexts In Progress Can mean:
• «underway technical work” (maintenance in progress) – notification in the game application

Game application

Game application “BlueArchive”

• «in work» – task in the task tracker

Task tracker «Jira»

Task tracker «Jira»

• «performed» – order in the application to call a taxi or food delivery


Application “Eurek”

• «collect order” / “order going» – in the application for food delivery


Application “Ya.Market”

(b) Defective original
Sometimes the localizer comes across Chinglish (Chinese English) texts that need to be written from scratch in the target language. For example, a car-themed text in an alert text from a robot vacuum cleaner app will confuse the user.

(c) Topic vocabulary/niche terminology
The localizer of the social network analytics service knows that for the universal concept of “subscribers” in Russian, the English language provides for the division into “subscribers” and “followers”.

(d) Traditions and trends in oral and written speech
When translating dialog boxes and messages into Russian, the word “please” and possessive pronouns should be omitted, even if they are in the original.

In addressing the user on web pages, advertising does not use “You”.

The text in Russian should not contain references to the gender of the reader.

In the text in English, it is important to use the pronoun they (they) to refer to one person and replacement he (He), she (she) and gender-neutral pronouns (ce, co, cy, ey, hey, ne, qui, sie, tey, xe, xie, yo, ze, ve) when the gender of the person is unknown. The proposal will not only become shorter, but will also acquire signs of inclusiveness, as in they other pronouns are “included” and do not have to be listed separately.

There are no analogues for the pronoun in Russian yet xeits case forms xem, xyr, xyrs, xemself and other new pronouns. Localizers resort to the following trick: they transfer pronouns to the text in Russian in their original form and accompany them with the comment “choose a way to address you (in English)”.

Choosing a pronoun in profile settings

Choosing a pronoun in profile settings

(e) Language adaptation of the text
The localizer is able to find elegant translation solutions and uses various translation transformations and techniques: for example, it changes the form and structure of sentences, splits or combines them, adds and omits words or phrases, replaces words with a broad meaning with words with a narrower meaning (and vice versa), lost conveys elements of meaning by some other means, resorts to descriptive and antonymic translation. Let’s see what the last one looks like.

(f) Localization technical features
The localizer can work with a text length limit in buttons, tooltips, dialogs: the target should not be longer than the source by 10 characters.

Often the text is built dynamically from predefined phrases and sentence fragments, so there are variables in the text, instead of which data is substituted.

The localizer can work with such variables. He knows that in the sentence “Allow %@ to use your location?” instead of a variable, a noun will be substituted, and this part of speech changes in cases. The noun variation is not provided, therefore, when translating, the localizer will add the generic term “application” before the variable to avoid case agreement errors.


Application “Navi”

Consider the example sentence “%s scenes unavailable” with a numeric variable %s. In Russian, the case of a noun will depend on the number before such a noun: 2-4 scenes / 0, 5-20, 100, 200, …, 1000 scenes / 1, 21, 31 scenes. The noun would look like this: {zero {# of scenes} one {# of scene} few {# of scenes} many {# of scenes} other {# of scenes}}, but it is not included here. The localizer needs to transform the sentence: for example, change the word order and add a colon to avoid a case matching error and not get “3 scenes not available”.

And, of course, the localizer understands that the key to successful localization is communication: he knows what questions to ask the customer and knows how to formulate them correctly. To consult with the customer, the localizer uses a separate chat or Q&A file. Structurally, the latter is a table of columns ID/Key (Line code), Source (original text), Question (translator’s question) and Answer (developer response).

File Q&A

File Q&A


Localizer translator

  1. Often works in a team with other specialists, since localization covers not only translation, but also cultural and linguistic adaptation of material, as well as voice acting, image replacement, graphics redrawing, and much more.

  2. Carries out preparatory work: collects lockit (product, texts, references, glossary, style guide) and stores localization materials in a convenient and understandable way.

  3. Complies with technical requirements (support for quotation marks, em dashes, non-breaking space, ellipsis with one character, letter ё) and adheres to the style and voice of the brand (tone and intonation of the story, mission and values ​​of the company, target audience, emotions and associations that the brand should evoke ).

  4. Knows the nuances of localizing software products (limitation on the length of text in buttons, tooltips, dialogs, working with variables, links, tags, consistency in UI translation, etc.).

  5. Localization is a part of development, so the localizer has excellent communication skills with product teams and knows how to work with the Q&A file.

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