Archive for July, 2011

No More Silent Super Mario! What about Game Localization?

Playing PC games has always been a part of spending my leisure time. Since the first moment I got my first computer, I have fallen in love with little flash games! In time, my taste has improved (if this is the right term) and I started to play more complex games. I have seen all the menus, directions etc in another language. It was sometimes hard for me to follow all the points, playing the game at the same time. While playing the old games, like Super Mario, you do not need any other language because it is always obvious what you are supposed to do. I used to play games like The Sims. I think such kind of games have some contributions to the language education. Everything is written and it is easy to get the meaning of the words. However, when it comes to other games, especially the military ones, you have to follow each points that is said in the game. Sometimes, the commands and directions are not written. Considering the games are dubbed in a native language (mostly English), there is no way but translate to serve all the game-lovers because they may not know English that well. I have read an article in a blog called Gamasutra. It is a blog about games. The author highlights very important points. I am going to paste the parts that I find interesting. As you know, you can read the whole article by clicking the link below:

There is a major aspect closely related to maximizing sales abroad: creating international versions of a game. Localization contributes to game growth, sales will increase dramatically if localization follows the right lines.

It’s true that many gamers consider localized versions to be dull and prefer to play the game in their original version. You know why? Because of poor quality, poor localization, thus poor gaming experience.

For localization to be of the highest quality, the localizer needs to take local customs and differences of each country into account; this further guarantees that sales will be profitable. All gamers prefer to play a game in their native language, that’s the best way to get immersed in it.

After translation is complete, it’s a key point to provide the translator and reviewer with screenshots or a code to access the game so they can experience it through the localized version before release. They’ll get the feel a real player will get!

Think globally, get expert localizations and watch your sales increase!

[References:  Heather Maxwell Chandler, The Game Localization Handbook, Game Development Series, 2005]

For the rest of the article, click here.

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Esperanto, an utopia?


Yesterday was the anniversary of Esperanto! It has been 124 years since its invention (or creation, or formation-whatever!). Thanks to Mariah Jane (IEWY News) who has posted an article about the anniversary of Esperanto, my thoughts have focused on another issue: Is English the Esperanto of our world?

Esperanto was created by  L. L. Zamenhof who wrote a book  detailing Esperanto. Zamenhof’s goal was to create an easy-to-learn and politically neutral language that would foster peace and international understanding between people with different regional and/or national languages. With Esperanto, we would have built the Babel Tower once again, but obviously it did not work.

Esperanto speakers range from 10,000 to two million active or fluent speakers, which is very small deal compared to English. Although English has the third rank in the list of most spoken languages in the world, you can communicate using it in almost any country. In schools, the second language is generally English. When you apply for a position, they ask if you know English or not.

Considering all these, it seems that English has become the Esperanto of our day. Zamenhof, thanks for the idea but English is about to replace your creation. If English becomes a kind of universal language in a short time, I think wei as translators, will have to look for another job!

P.S. I talked about this idea to my Turkish teacher three years ago. He is a very passionate man about Turkish language and he almost accused me of being a traitor 🙂

The Glory of Speaking Many Languages

This video always makes me laugh. This is a part from early Indiana Jones series. Although some scientists say that there is a limit of learning languages, others claim that one can learn as long as he/she tries hard. I agree with the former claim because I have met many people so far who said “I know 5-6-7-8 languages”. When you want them to speak fluently, they just stop there. When we say “speaking a language”, we mean the communication without any problem. I can say “I know English, but it is nor perfect”. I think many of you agree with me because we still hesitate using some certain phrases or verbs in English. I can write, read and understand French, but I can only talk about daily matters. This does not mean that I know French. Similarly I can write, read and understand Spanish; however, I can’t go beyond saying “Hello, how are you, how old are you?” etc. I do not say people can only speak 2 or 3 languages fluently but I think there is certain limit with regard to the potential of our brains.

The Five Most Important Digital Innovations


Although we know that machine translation has a long way to go, most of us already worries about the future of translation. As I have blogged before, there are many defects of machine translation. Especially when it comes to the different pairs (such as English-Turkish), the outcome is almost impossible to use. Let along using, it is not even likely to understand the “translated” text. However, we can never know what the future will bring. The technology advances so fast that one day we may be titled as ‘translation editor’ instead of ‘translator’. On Lionbridge, Saul Marcus emphasizes the most important digital innovation that will affect the business world. One of them is machine translation. I find this article quite interesting and wanted to share it. You can read the rest of the article by clicking the link below:

Andrew McAfee is a principal research scientist at MIT. His focus is on how digital technology is impacting and changing the business world. I recently met with Professor McAfee in his offices in Cambridge Square. He posed a question to which I struggled to answer: Would you compare machine translation to a 2-year old or a 45-year old?

Professor McAfee is not a total stranger to machine translation. In an April 21st blog he wrote about the five most important digital innovations that will have the biggest impact on the business world over the next decade. His list:

  1. IBM’s Watson Q&A computer
  2. Google’s autonomous car
  3. Technologies to understand and produce natural human speech
  4. Instantaneous, high-quality machine translation
  5. Smartphones / App phones in the developing world
For the rest of the article, click here.

Terminology: A Trouble or A Blessing?


Until recently, I made many translations “in vain”. I realized that I just lived the day and got the job done. There was nothing left except from some cash. Than one of my friends showed me his database and explained me how the translation is easy and consistent when you have a rich TM (Translation Memory). With all these TMs, you can create your own terminology. In a site titled contentrules, I read an article about terminology, it gives advices on terminology management and its importance. I get the parts which I find interesting. You can read the whole text by clicking the link below (as usual!):

Let’s talk about managing terminology. Why bother? Well that’s easy. If you are in the content creation business, your product is your words/pictures/movies. And if words are your product, you need to care about them. You need to select them carefully and consistently, and you need to manage them.

By this I mean you need to make sure you have a consistent lexicon that is simple, straightforward, and makes sense. And the most important word is consistent. Consistent terminology is critical for so many reasons. It:

  • Makes your content much easier to read for people of all reading levels.
  • Preserves your company trademarks, service marks, copyrights, and so on.
  • Safeguards your product and company branding.
  • Ensures that everyone in your organization uses the same words to describe the same things.
  • Allows you to use different XML chunks in a structured environment without having to rewrite for consistency.
  • Lowers the price and time it takes to translate the content into multiple languages.
  • Helps to ensure the quality and consistency of the translations.

The two most common ways I’ve seen of managing terminology are Excel spreadsheets and Microsoft Word tables. Usually there are at least two columns: allowed terms and prohibited terms. Sometimes allowed terms are called preferred terms. Sometimes prohibited terms are called deprecated terms. Regardless of what the terms are called and regardless of what application is used to create the list of terms, this type of system for managing terminology is simply a nightmare. I rarely see a company that can grow and scale using lists or spreadsheets as their management system for terminology.

Why do term lists fail? There are many reasons. In my opinion, the main reason term lists fail is that they require a pullmechanism for people to use them. By that I mean, the author or editor needs to:

  • Know that the term in question is managed (the company cares about correct usage).
  • Know where to find the list of terms.
  • Get the list of terms.
  • Search for the term and determine if it is allowed or prohibited (or if it even exists in the term list at all).
  • Make the correction, if necessary.
For the rest of the article, click here.

The Revival of Endangered Languages


We ,as human beings, get bored easily, no matter what the subject is. We go and make tattoos when we want a “new skin”, we go and make our hair cut or dyed when we want a new style, we go and move to another city/country when we want a new life etc. What happens when we get bored of our own language? We go back to basics, to endangered languages which were once used in out culture or country. This is exactly what happens with the advance of technology. When we speak and write and mail and text the same language, somehow, we want something new. We want a new kind of code that not everybody understands. Asya Pereltsvaig explains this situation with many examples. I have quoted the parts I find interesting. For the rest of the article, you can click the link below:

Case in point: teenagers in South and Central America using dying languages as a “cool” code.

According to Samuel Herrera, who runs the linguistics laboratory at the Institute of Anthropological Research in Mexico City, young people in southern Chile produce hip-hop videos and post them on YouTube using Huilliche, a language on the brink of extinction. Similarly, teenagers in Mexico think it’s “cool” to send text messages in regional endangered languages, such as Huave.

Overall, these languages aren’t doing too well. According toUNESCO’s list of endangered languages, Huilliche with its 2000 speakers is listed as a “critically endangered language”, meaning that “the youngest speakers are grandparents and older, and they speak the language partially and infrequently”. Varieties of Huave in Mexico are listed in different categories.

So why are teenagers using these dying languages on the Internet and in their text messages? As soon as text messaging exploded on the world stage, young people began to look for a way to make it more exclusive and develop their own code or doublespeak. First, shorthand and abbreviations became a popular way to keep the “inside joke” of LOL, or “laughing out loud,” and brb, or “be right back,” within the circle. In time, though, these catchphrases reached a broader audience, losing their cache and exclusivity. They even made it into the latest edition of the Oxford English Dictionary. And as soon as the use of such abbreviations became widespread and commercial, the code was no longer “cool”. And so youngsters turn to endangered languages for the next “cool” code.

For the rest of the article, click here.

10 Words That are Misspelt Most

A couple of minutes ago, I have seen a link on Twitter. Thanks to Catherine Christaki (LinguaGreca), I discovered a website which is very funny and interesting. Here, I will write the words below; however after checking this out, you should definitely visit the website itself and see the funny drawings by The Oatmeal. Do you also misspell these words?

1- Lose / Loose

2- Weird / not “wierd”

3- Their / They’re / There (the pronouncations are tricky, aren’t they?)

4- Your / You’re

5- It’s / Its

6- Definitely / not “definetely”

7- Effect / Affect

8- Weather / Whether

9- Then / Than

10- A lot/ not “alot”

For the fantastic drawings, click here.

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