Unsure of the right terminology to use? Gearing up to build a style guide for your app or website translation, but don’t know where to start? Always admired a global company’s content style and wondered how they pull it off?
Don’t send up silent prayers to the universe asking for help. This list of freely available localization resources from some of the biggest global brands is just what you need. Each resource in this alphabetically-arranged list offers some general guidelines as well as instructions specific to their website, product, or service.
Apple’s internationalization (i18n) guide is geared toward developers—it lists a wide range of programming resources for iOS as well as Mac developers. Apart from guidelines on making apps ready for localization, the guide points to downloadable glossaries (a login is required).
The European Union’s 263 specialized glossaries range in topics from the automotive industry to trade unions, nanotechnology, and fisheries. Though this is a huge database, not all of the glossaries are in all the official languages of the EU.
Facebook Translation App Guide is meant to help translators using the Facebook app for translation. It explains various nuances of the app such as tokens, variations, attributes, inline translations, and voting with the app. But it also touches on linguistic aspects such as translating with gender in mind, given that Facebook offers users the option to not mention their gender.
Facebook accommodates different language conventions with the help of tokens, variations, and attributes. It also offers style guides and glossaries for most languages on Facebook. Volunteer translators can head over to the Translator Community for their language when they have feedback, suggestions, or questions. Facebook’s resources, too, require a login.
Google Global Advertiser’s localization guide consists of tips on how to work with translation companies and a short glossary of terms used in the localization domain. Like Apple’s i18n guide, this isn’t meant for translators, so detailed resources aren’t available.
Microsoft Language Portal
This is by far one of the most comprehensive and freely available term bases online. You can search in English for equivalent terms in over 100 languages and even download the term base for offline access. The portal also offers localization style guides, a localized error message lookup tool for Microsoft products, a reference library for building global-ready apps, and many more resources.
Mozilla’s extensive style guide stresses that translators must make translations resonate well for their culture and audience instead of trying to be strictly faithful to the format and style of the source language. It says here: “Localized content shouldn’t be a literal translation, but it should capture the same meaning and sentiment. So feel free to pull it apart and put it back together; replace an English expression with one from your native language; Mozilla-fy it for your region.”
In fact, their style guide is a series of questions to translators on how dates, time, and abbreviations, among other things, are used in their language. When it comes to loanwords—an important policy item in translation—it asks, “Will you use loanwords from another language or coin new terms in your language to maintain language purity? Is there [a] government requirement or policy to encourage creating new terms for new concepts, or will loanwords be sufficient to reach broader masses and expedite new technology adoption?”
I particularly liked some of the tips on translating difficult concepts . . .
- Know your product and understand the function of the feature.
- Consider similar ideas for those functions in your culture.
- Associate a culturally-specific image with the meaning and function of the term.
. . . and advice on developing new term bases.
- Avoid overly borrowing English expressions.
- Referencing another language from the same language family may inspire you to come up with your own terms.
- Consider the product target audience (age, level of literacy, education, and social and economic status).
Apart from a short style guide, TED has a rich mine of support files for subtitling. In true TED spirit, the style guide starts off with tips on collaboration, asking people to direct criticism at the work and not at translators. Translators are also encouraged to contact their Language Coordinators in case of disputes.
TED Talks have been subtitled by volunteer translators in over 100 languages.
Twitter provides a glossary for the language you choose to translate into. This is available in the Help section of Twitter Translation, which can be accessed after signing up to translate and agreeing to Twitter’s terms.