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Top Ten Ideas for Improving Localization

1. Consistent Naming/Messaging Situations

When the message needs to stay very close to the same across locales this requires maxim amount of early coordination between development/creative lead and global representatives, since the terms will be required to be universally used around the world.

Generally, these kind of situations happen for things like product names, manifestos, mission statements.

These are the kinds of specific example that have been problematic in product naming and consistent messaging in the past.

 personas -> directly translates into some languages as "people",
drawing confusion when the feature is about visual changes to the chrome.
 workspace -> scratchpad  --> tools | scratchpad
sumo site design -- selection of site theme/style US - friendly and approachable v. international 
preference for more formal and concise. Nurse and cat have pornographic connotations in some Asian
markets (Try google search for "Asian Nurse" or Nurse Cat Japan)

In this case SUMO design has been made flexible to remove the image.  JA is using this. See: 
http://support.mozilla.com/ja/home. Maybe this design is more suitable for locales where a more
formal approach is desirable. Supporting possible multiple designs  for sumo might have been, or
still might be possible, but expensive.In this way we might have constructed a "friendly design"
and a "formal/concise  design" and each locale could opt in to the design best suited to the locale.

2. Note Where Adapted Content is Desirable

Where we want names and concepts to be adapted to a locale, state those things up front. Write content and concepts of campaigns in Basic English first, or just share more of these early planing designs flexible global outreach (message needs follow generally, but then tuned for specific locales)

Requires additional work by development/creative lead to explain intent of the campaign and 
where local flexibility is desired. Then localize it to en-US and or to be hip or trendy.  
Maybe some some kind of "markup language" can be used to express both the intent and the 
implementation (experiment proposed by pfinch and stas; see [1] and [2])

3. Avoid slang, trendy catch phrases

Avoid slang, trendy catch phrases, or phrases that are a "play-on-words" with possible multiple meanings in the basic design. When they are required explain the intended affect or meaning. Some examples:

 "triple threat" v. multi-dimensional 
 "webify me" vs. what!???
Awesome ---   http://matejnovak.com/2011/05/10/owning-awesome/
Awe actually meant “terror” or “dread” until the late 1700s, from which point on it retained only 
the slightly softer meaning of “reverential fear or wonder” (all definitions from the Shorter 
Oxford English Dictionary).  Awesome came along in the late 16th century  meaning “filled with 
awe” and then “inspiring awe” about a century later, both of which are still in use today. The 
positive colloquialism meaning “outstanding, remarkable” didn’t come along until the mid 20th 
century (interestingly enough, that came after the  adverb form, awesomely, began to mean 
“outstanding, very” in the late 19th century). All that brings us to today and the late 1900s
slang meaning of “excellent”, “marvelous” or "scary cool..."
Awesome --- the fall-out (http://vitosmo.tumblr.com/post/5609441897/be-awesome-says-what)
On the SuMo homepage (https://support.mozilla.com/en-US/home) there’s an invitation to “Be Awesome”... 
Limiting the back-translation of the term to languages (*).. yields the following picture:
   o Slavic (bs, bg, hr, cs, pl, sl, uk): be phenomenal, amazing, fantastic, huge
   o Germanic (de, nl, no): be fantastic, great
   o Romanic (es,ca, fr,it): be amazing, great, fantastic, magnificent
The absence of the original term in back translations should be seen as a warning sign. Any term, 
used as an attribute for a product, trade mark etc, should exhibit the same distinctiveness, 
the same level of recognition in all languages used.
This not the case with “awesome”. If back translations carried any weight, fantastic + amazing 
would be close enough as well as easier to localize. However, I don’t have any illusions.

Note that 70% of users do not use the English version of Firefox and that 80% live outside US. A quick check of SuMO contents revealed that the more detached / respectful form of adressing the user (the French "Vous", German "Sie", Russian "Vi" dominates (CS DE HE FR HR RU SL SR UK for example), with Castillian and PT_BR (if I am not wrong) deciding for Tu. Given this mindset on the side opf localizers, texts, written in a buddy-buddy style, are hard to swallow.

4. Define Terms

Define use of nouns, verbs and adjectives when there are used in the design or copy. State clearly, what the trade marks, proper names, untranslatables are. Avoid situations like this one - (scroll down the first few messages):

While we were discussing about how to translate "Mozilla Marketplace" in Spanish, we found out 
that the word "Bazar" it a really good one to avoid the bad connotations  of market (markets) 
or store (very commercial oriented). Maybe Bazaar is a good one for English too. Also Bazaar 
is pronounced really similar in a lot of languages. How are you translating "Marketplace" 
in other locales? 

This kind of a discussion should have been done before and not after the fact...

5. Allow Enough Space for Text

Please consider the length of copy and character limitation when creating designs. For instance, it might take a Latin language 30 characters to express a 15 character English string. Historically, we've run into this issue with Affiliate buttons where space is severely constrained.

6. Use web fonts

We make heavy use of webfonts on our websites, but they only look good in a handful of Western languages. E. g. učenje on MDN in Slovenian doesn't look very good: fonts.png.

7. Empower the team

Make it clear that localizers don't have to translate word for word. Give them tools and tips so that the localized copy makes sense and has the same tone in their language.

8. Stay in touch

Building on the above, host regular calls to provide help and make everyone a part of the process. Maybe even hold the occasional workshop in specific locales.

Note that the median localizers-per-language count is probably one, maximum two (sg): there will always be more texts to be localized than persons ready to do it. Means a) you have to compete with other fellow Mozillians for this resource and b) it's the sellers' market. So treat your localizers right: the best swag for them is the warm glow of your attention and appreciation.

9. Be available

Hang out in IRC channels and share our email addresses so anyone can ask us questions at any time about the process or any specific problems they might be having.

10. Learn & Adapt

A culmination of the rest. As we learn what works and what doesn't in various locales, and what regular challenges localizers face, we'll be better equipped to create original copy that works better for everyone and makes the whole process a lot smoother.