Saturday, 15 March 2008

The acrobatics of community-based localisation

Michael Kaplan has an interesting post discussing the perceived 'failure' of the Swahili-language version of Microsoft Office which was released in 2003. This lesson clearly shows the benefits of some level of community-input in the localisation process. I found this quote from Kaplan rather interesting:
...the job of the localizer is as important as it ever was, if not moreso -- something that can also speak against complete "community" reliance rather on making sure competent people who understand the source and target markets and can translate between them are present in sufficient numbers to do what it may well turn out to be that no educational or governmental entity, what no group of people can actually accomplish successfully on their own.
The success of community-based localisation is indeed dependent on the ability of the community to transfer the ideas and concepts present in the source-language into their own culture and language. Well, that's no different than any other community-based project, and perhaps shows some of the acrobatics involved when commercial vendors attempt to include social translation as part of their localisation workflow.
Now, if only I'd been more interested in learning languages growing up... I spend most of my childhood from age 6 to 12 in Luoland in Kenya, and spoke solid African English with a mix of Swahili, Luo and Norwegian words. Imagine that (if you can)!

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