Out and about running a few errands today, I stopped and got gas and noticed at the gas station not far from my house the advertising banners at the station were half in English and half in Spanish. Later when I went to Target [we call it Tar-shay you know], the voices around me were mixtures of English/Spanish and English/Laotian. Keep in mind that I live in the ‘breadbasket of California’ and yet look at the United Nations around me that I totally take for granted. It’s just part of California and where I live. In fact in Fresno, the Spanish TV and radio stations have higher ratings than the English speaking ones do.
It got me thinking on the localization issues that businesses must face on a regular basis, and of course Microsoft and SBS being an example of a business that needs to take something and translate it. For SBS I think if I remember right, they come out with 17 different language versions of SBS. Just the other day in the newsgroups a guy posted in about hotfixes and I used Google’s translation service to translate the “hotfixes are free” but I apologized for using Google translation because I know how it can lose meaning and be a bit insulting sometimes to the poster.
Take for example this phrase:
- Hotfixes es una llamada libre, servicios de ayuda justos del producto de Microsoft de la llamada.
Let’s see what happens when we now stick it in Google to go back to English.
- Hotfixes is a free call, right services of aid of the product of Microsoft of the call.
Uh…yeah… that’s sounds self explanatory doesn’t it? Want to know what it started out as? Hotfixes are a free call, just call Microsoft Product Support Services. Yeah, see what I mean? Loses a bit in the translation, doesn’t it? So now think of the problems we face in a global world of technology. Geeks have a problem communicating in the first place and we lose things in translation. Talk about a compound problem.
I’ll admit this is one area that I am vastly undereducated on. I slid though my education without the need for a secondary language [and no, Geek is not officially designed as a language so I can’t count that]. My sister knows enough French to say “My pencil is yellow“, I know enough Spanish to be able to order off the menu of a Mexican Food Restaurant. Meanwhile in the ranks of my fellow MVPs from other countries… while they speak and write fluent English and it’s not even their only language. I think Mariette and Marina probably know about 10 languages between them.
Heck, look at Sam the SBS server… he speaks 17:
I barely speak English and he speaks two versions of Chinese, two versions of Portuguese and Russian. I got a book on learning Russian in high school and more than anything else I remember that “e’s” look like “’3’s”. Like I said, vastly undereducated when it comes to foreign languages and ‘localizations’.
But remember, while we do have localized newsgroups, they don’t get as much traffic as the English speaking ones. As long as you can
speak write English, can translate the error messages if Google can’t do it for us, just remember that the communities of SBS that have the primary language as English, your geek peers, can still help you. A computer error is a computer error and I still say that Geek truly is the universal language. And if you don’t mind if Google and I massacre your language I can always do this:
- Hotfixes sind ein freier Anruf, gerade Anrufmicrosoftprodukt-Beistandsservices.
- Hotfixes sont un appel gratuit, services de support justes de produit de Microsoft d’appel
- Hotfixes è una chiamata libera, servizi giusti di sostegno del prodotto del Microsoft di chiamata
- Hotfixes é uma chamada livre, serviços de sustentação justos do produto de Microsoft da chamada
For the record that’s German, French, Italian, Portuguese …. well…it’s supposed to be anyway. In the original post I also included Japanese, Korean and Chinese but .TEXT didn’t like the characters and wouldn’t post them.
So what about you? Do you face any localization or translation issues where you are?
Like I said… I barely speak English.