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Software Translation

  What steps do you usually go through to translate software to many different languages like Spanish, German, Japanese (look at Joel's front page for a lots more)? How do you know if a translator is good and he is not giving you the crap that comes out of babelfish? Do you usually take the translation to a second translator to copy edit? How do you give them (or how do you format the text that is in the software) the information they are supposed to translate?
  If Joel, or someone else who has managed software translations before, could enlighten us a bit more on this subject I would appreciate it greatly.

Friday, February 6, 2004

I put an ad on craigslist looking for a translator. Two of the people who replied actually had degrees in translation. So I just took them at their word, and they did a good job.

I think in general there aren't the same number of fakers in translation as there are in software. If people suck at a foreign language it is pretty obvious.  Also, the translator job ad recieved only about 25 responses total, whereas our software position ad was recieving about 25 responses PER DAY.

It is also sort of a reverse turing test. If the person can fool YOU into thinking that they are a compentent translator, they probably know the language well enough to do a satisfactory job.

Friday, February 6, 2004

I think I lost one of my own posts on this forum about Internationalization of my VB app. There was some good advise in there.{E7847CDF-117E-4C0E-8357-E338FF798525}&product_id={7583591E-1F55-4C6B-A9B4-61A1BB02BF10},1701,3622,00.html

I'll say like every other being, then, read that book "Internationalization with Visual Basic" by Michael.S.Kaplan. I have it. I haven't read it. So I can give advise.

Sathyaish Chakravarthy
Friday, February 6, 2004

>How do you know if a translator is good and he is not giving you the crap that comes out of babelfish?

When the client fires your ass, you'll know whose doing it is. That way it works!

Hey, I am scared to tell you my name, dude!
Friday, February 6, 2004

In the case of Joel on Software, I had copy editors review and correct each translation. If translators are 90% good, having two people look at each document means you get something that is likely to be 99% good :)

In the case of German CityDesk, we interviewed about 10 translators and gave them each the same translation test  with a list of things to translate that corresponded to the real CityDesk translation tasks. The test took about 45 minutes. I then stripped the names and sent the results of the test to about 10 German-speaking friends (actually mostly people who had produced German Joel on Software) and asked them to rank them. We ended up hiring the person who was ranked highest by the most reviewers.

Joel Spolsky
Fog Creek Software
Friday, February 6, 2004

There is an excellent translator community at where you can post jobs, ask for translation help, etc.

The "ask" feature works in the same way as bug tracking: the asker is the only one who can "resolve" a question.
Friday, February 6, 2004

I think you can learn a language as much as you want but you can never beat the experience of someone who speaks that language since his or her birth. That also goes for translators.

Saturday, February 7, 2004

There are also specialized "localization" and "internationalization" companies. Google is your friend.

R Chevallier
Saturday, February 7, 2004

I have to echo Holger's comments. Always choose a translator who is a native speaker of the target language.

Breandán Dalton
Tuesday, February 10, 2004

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