3 Reasons Why You Need a Linguist for Localization

Dec 22, 2017

Article ImageI’ve lost count of how many times I’ve heard this sentence: “My local reviewer is bilingual!” People use this to justify why and how someone has been identified to review and sign off on localized content. Content quality checks are crucial milestones in any global content lifecycle and even more critical when it comes to making sure localization delivers local experiences flawlessly. Selecting a bilingual, or multilingual, person seems the simplest way to assign a review resource based on local profiles and skills. However there is a golden rule in localization management which states that all linguists are multilingual people but not all multilingual people are linguists. In other words, it takes more than some level of language proficiency to localize content and to determine whether localized content is correct and relevant. Simply choosing anyone who can speak another language does not always meet expectations. Here are three reasons why linguists are invaluable resources to check localized content effectiveness, implement actual corrections, and collaborate with business experts in order to complete an in-depth and unbiased review.

  1. Linguists Live and Breathe the Language of Customers—Linguists have to ensure that localized content is linguistically, culturally, and functionally engaging. So they are best positioned to see localized content through the eyes of local customers. As in-market and professional experts, linguists pay much attention to each detail that can make and break customer experiences while keeping the big picture in mind. They avoid company or product-centric jargon as well as inappropriate tones. They convey global messages by tailoring their local usefulness and without denaturing their original essence. Above all they draw the line between business imperatives (your content) and the voice of customers (their language).
  2. Linguists Review Content Consistently and In Line with Localization Effectiveness Criteria—Preferential changes are common pitfalls during most reviews of localized content. In general, multilingual people may have their own views and opinions regarding language, and may therefore edit content accordingly. Linguists maintain integrity and consistency of localized content by sticking to style guides, glossaries, and customization requirements that are agreed upon upfront. They are now assisted by tools and assets enabling them to perform their work effectively, which add even more value to their best practices. They also enhance review consistency by removing uncontrolled delegation or distribution within large organizations, reducing the number of review iterations and prioritizing review tasks. Also, linguists bear in mind localization effectiveness criteria such as language standards, rules and conventions at all times. Since these criteria often match localization performance indicators, reviews done by linguists make it easier to capture the real value and measure the ongoing effectiveness of localized content.
  3. Linguists are Keen to Combine their Experience with Local Business Expertise—Linguists and local subject matter experts (SMEs) should leverage opportunities to team up in order to refine, and potentially enrich, localized content during review phases. On the one hand local SMEs can help linguists understand contextual dependencies, terminology sensitivity, or specific audience requirements. Sharing business knowledge does not only improve immediate reviews, it also empowers linguists to take more business rationale into account during future localization efforts. On the other hand, linguists can suggest edits or tweaks to local SMEs, which prevents them from adding mistakes and wasting their own time now and going forward. Keeping this mutual engagement timely, and turning it into a seamless collaboration, are major challenges for review purposes. Ideally, checkpoints or spot checks should be planned to foster alignment and set expectations. Staying focused on pain points or doubts makes more sense than permanent communication, virtually or not.

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