LOCALIZATION 101

If you're new to translation and localization services, there are a lot of alien concepts and terminology flying around. It can be hard to know what you need and what you don't. Below we try to clarify and unpack frequently asked questions, as well as everything we think is necessary to make a good decision about localization.


ANATOMY OF A STANDARD PROJECT

Professional translation and localization projects have a lot of moving parts and can be counterintuitive. Our staff are always happy to run things down for you, but here is a reference that you can use to understand how we work and what happens to your content during a normal project.

Anatomy of a project
Scoping
The scoping phase is fundamentally about determining what materials need to be localized to achieve your goals. In many ways this is the most important phase of a project. Because computer-assisted translation (CAT) tools import text strings and process them in a proprietary format, the scope of a project is very hard to change once production has begun. At the same time, you don't want to receive completed translations, only to realize that there were more materials to translate, or that you actually wanted to use a different word in paragraph 2. For this reason, it is important to ensure that all of the content you need for your project is ready and finalized prior to start of the project. Our staff can help you figure out what needs to be included.

Analysis
The analysis phase focuses on determining how much work the project will take. This primarily consists of using CAT tools to get a precise word count that is weighted to factor in repetitions and previous translations. When CAT tools identify phrases that appear to match other phrases, either in the same document or in a client's Translation Memory (database of previous translations), they are flagged as repetitions that do not need to translated (though they sometimes do still need to be confirmed by the linguist). In turn, repetitious phrases also cost the client less because they represent less work for us. Analyzing for repetitions is the reason that we can only give rough estimates before we receive the actual source files. The analysis phase also includes assessing timelines and ancillary services like desktop publishing, in-context review, and engineering.

Preparation
During the preparation stage, our support staff pull the text strings out of the source files and import them into our CAT tool before we send them out to linguists. If we run into any issues, we will bring them up right then and make sure the final product is right from the start.

Translation
Our translation stage is performed by an experienced native linguist, translating exclusively into their native tongue, and usually with some subject matter expertise in the content. We strive to use the same linguist/editor team for all work for a client.

Editing
During the editing stage, a separate linguist with native proficiency checks the output for consistency, accuracy, proper grammar and mechanics, and idiomatic eloquence. These checks also reference glossaries and style guides when possible, to ensure that the ideal output term is used precisely and consistently.

Review
In the event that our clients have staff in the target market for this project, we can also deliver content in an intermediate, review-friendly form, so that they can gather feedback from native speakers who are familiar with both the goals of the client organization and the locale. Once the review comes back to us, we examine the feedback and implement as necessary.

DTP
Desktop publishing (DTP) is an optional stage in which our staff perform all of the layout and formatting work to match the source materials in the target language. We recommend DTP whenever the output is intended for consumption by our clients' customers. Though this step and its cost may seem unnecessary at first glance, formatting in a foriegn language is more challenging than it appears. Some languagues use many more characters to convey the same information, or longer words that make line breaks difficult. This is known as text expansion, and can require significant design work to replicate the design of the original. Many clients who elect to do the layouts themselves end up bringing the DTP work back to us in the end because it proved trickier than it seemed.

Packaging
During the packaging stage, our engineers initiate a round of automated checks for terminological consistency across projects, then update the client's Translation Memory, package the files, and deliver in the original file format.

Consultation
Occasionally, we undertake projects that go beyond straightforward translation/localization projects. This can take many forms, including market research, in-market focus groups, marketing campaign adaptation, and technical consultation. Let us know if you have a complex global business problem and we'll see how we can help!

GLYPH'S XTRF CLIENT PORTAL

Our Translation Management System, XTRF, has a client portal that offers a secure, reliable and fast way to manage projects. Through the client portal, you can request, approve or reject quotes, upload source materials, retrieve end products, manage invoices, and generate reports.



Note: The first time you log in to the portal, our analyst or account manager will send you a welcome email with a link. Once at the portal, you will need to reset the password as if you forgot. This is 'normal.' (We know this is kind of a silly workaround, and we're trying to get it fixed. Please bear with us for now.)

Getting Started
Most of the time, the first thing our clients want to do in the portal is request a quote. No matter which tab you're looking at, there will always be two buttons in the top right entitled Request a Quote and Launch a Project. The Request a Quote button will begin the process of collecting the information we need to get you a precise quote for your project. Note that if you hit Launch a Project instead, that tells us that you have pre-approved the project no matter the cost, so you run the risk of committing to a project sight unseen. We recommend that you always request a quote instead of launching a project unless you have done many projects and have a very precise idea of what it will cost. The quoting process does not take significantly more time.

Tabs: Each of the separate tabs in the portal allow you to examine details of extant quotes, projects, and invoices, as well as generate reports to get an understanding of the scale and efficiency of your specific projects. We encourage you to examine the reports as you complete more projects to get a sense of how various projects compare to one another.

Portal Tour: In the settings menu on the upper right there is a Customer Portal Tour that will provide you with more details about the various functions in the portal.

Client Portal FAQ
Having trouble? Check out the Client Portal FAQ for common issues, or check with your account manager.

STAFFING

Glyph language team

Native Speakers
All Glyph linguists are native speakers and only translate into their native language. We strive to work with proven, experienced and professional linguists and have multiple dedicated translator/editor teams in all of our core languages.

Freelancers
We often get asked about our linguists, and whether they are 'in-house.' All of our linguists are freelance, due to the elastic nature of demand for specific languages, even common ones like Chinese and Spanish. With the exception of localization companies that only offer one or two languages, all language service providers use freelance linguists. What distinguishes our pool of linguists is the vetting to which we subject them before we start assigning them projects, and the feedback mechanisms we use to make sure they grow along with us.

Subject Matter Expertise
Many of our linguists have subject matter expertise in specific fields, such as medicine, mechanical engineering, business, etc. With prior notice we can source linguists in almost any language with almost any kind of specific experience - just let us know and we'll start hunting!

Core Languages
Glyph has active projects going in more than 100 languages, but a small subset of those represents most of our work. Here are our core languages, which we work in every day. If you need something you don't see here, just ask and we'll source it for you! Click here for an expanded list of languages.

Arabic
Chinese [Simplified]
Chinese [Traditional]
Czech
Danish
Dutch
English
French (Canada)
French (France)
German
Greek
Italian
Japanese
Korean
Norwegian (Bokmål)
Polish
Portuguese (Brazil)
Portuguese (Portugal)
Russian
Somali
Spanish (Latin America)
Spanish (Spain)
Spanish (USA)
Swedish
Turkish

STANDARD TIMELINES

For straightforward projects with common file formats, no consultation or review phases, the following timelines apply:

Volume Turnaround Time Rush Turnaround Time
up to 3,000 words 5 full business days 3 full business days
each additional 2000 words add 2 full business days add 1.5 business days
Above 10,000 words To be determined on a case by case basis.


TRANSLATION MEMORIES

Like all professional translation services operations, Glyph uses translation memories to streamline the translation process and ensure consistency. CAT tools store translated output in a database that divides text strings into sections known as 'segments,' which can vary in length but are usually about the same as a clause in grammatical terms. A translation memory is a client-specific database that contains all of the segments that Glyph has translated for that client in both source and target languages. In the event that later projects contain segments that match existing ones in the translation memory, the CAT tool has the option of automatically populating the output text with existing output from the translation memory. Our linguists review the context of the new project to ensure that the existing segment in the memory actually applies, but generally translation memories increase both the spee and quality of a localization project.

Because translation memories are updated with new strings after each project, the more localization projects a client completes, the more data that translation memory will have, and the more valuable it becomes. Many language service providers will export translation memories and give them to clients upon request, so if you are considering changing providers, find out if you can bring your translation memory with you.

FILE FORMATS

We accept the following file formats as a matter of course. If your content is in another format, get in touch with us and let us know - we can almost certainly handle it.

Glyph Language File Format (.GLFF) (preferred)
.NET resource files (.RESX)
Adobe InDesign™ (.INDD, .IMDL)
Adobe Illustrator™ (.AI)
Adobe PhotoShop™ (.PSD)
HTML (.HTML, .HMT, .SHT), including HTML5
Java properties
JSON
Microsoft Excel™ 2003 (.XLS, .XML, .XLT)
Microsoft Excel™ 2007-2013 (.XLSX, .XLSM)
Microsoft PowerPoint™ 2003 (.PPT, .PPS, .POT)
Microsoft PowerPoint™ 2007-2013 (.PPTX, .PPSX, .POTX, .SLDX)
Microsoft Word™ 2003 (.DOC, .RTF, .BAK, .DOT)
Microsoft Word™ 2007-2013 (.DOCX)
Multilingual Excel/CSV formats (CSV, TSV, XLS, XLSX)
Plain text (.TXT)
PO Gettext files (.PO)
Rich Text Format™ (.RTF, two-column .RTF)
Subtitle files (.SRT, .VTT, etc.) XML (.XML)
XLIFF (.XLF, .XLIF, .XLIFF)
YAML

MACHINE TRANSLATION

Many of our clients ask us about machine translation (MT), whether we use it, and how it is different from using CAT tools with translation memories. While CAT tools use technology to streamline the translation workflow at many stages, the output is ultimately generated by human linguists who can analyze content for diction, syntax, context, tone, and dialect. Machine translation instead uses computers to analyze and translate text automatically.

Glyph does not currently employ machine translation in production. We have been investigating and researching the possibility since 2013, and in 2015 we designed and ran a study in conjunction with the National Institute of Standards and Technology (NIST), providing quality assessments on machine translation output using human linguists as judges. We have found that at the current state of the art, MT output still requires significant human editing to produce the level of quality that we consider requisite for the kind of projects we undertake.

Machine translation technology is advancing quickly, and for high-volume, low-impact applications such as ecommerce platforms with millions of products, current MT capabilities already make sense. There are language service providers who use machine translation effectively in the right context. And that's really the crux of the MT question - it all depends on context. There are already applications for which MT makes good business sense, and there will always be some creative applications for which human linguists will be the gold standard. For the moment at least, Glyph remains committed to professional human linguists.