Tuesday, December 27, 2011

Happy Holidays

My wishes for the blog followers:

©Designed by Monkeys vs Robots

And many more blog posts next year!

Thursday, November 17, 2011

If you are Lost in Translation... Find a way out!

After a few years feeling frustrated with some text that I had to translate, and after a few weeks trying to convince the client I am collaborating with as a linguistic consultant that there are many things in the English culture that cannot be transferred to the Spanish culture, I decided it would be good to share a few tips I have been using for a couple of years, which have proved to be pretty useful.

Imagine you have just been given a quite interesting project with a quite high volume of words. You have a look at the text and it seems that it won’t be too difficult, so you decide to accept it. As soon as the assignment is confirmed, you start working on it. When you have been translating for a while, you start seeing strange things in the source text, which, at some places, they are close to incomprehensible. What can you do?:

1. Report to the agency/client that the original text needs to be proofread.

It will probably not convince them, but, at least you cover your own back: if the source text is not good enough, it is likely that our translations would be good either (even though it could happen, of course). If the source is a translation from another language and the client has not even bothered to pay for a proofreader to double check the translation, there is not much we can do; just let the client know that the text is not of the expected quality and that we would probably have issues translating. Thus, if anything has been mistranslated or the translation is not close enough to the original text, at least we have warned the client. If we are working with a direct client and the text is the original text they have created, this warning can make them to ask someone within the company with some good writing skills to read through the text and correct whatever needed: this would improve the overall quality of the product (well, it’s just like a proper quality assurance).

2. Ask, ask, ask.

If you don’t ask, you may not know. Therefore, whenever there is something you cannot understand from a text, either because you don’t know the culture or slang, or because whoever wrote the text invented some terms to try and sound cool, or because the source text we have is a translation from another text and is has not been proofread, the best thing to do is ask the client. Many games developers are used to the queries” document with questions from the localisers.

However, it is also important to know how to ask those questions. Developers are always in a rush. Always. It is not the localisers’ fault that something is it not clear enough or that it is impossible to translate without losing the play on words, therefore, it is better to make it as easy as possible for the developer (or whoever receiving those queries) to understand our questions. If we do a simple question of “What is this?”, we risk being misunderstood or the client might not understand what is really what we need, and they might answer something else. For example: many times I have found a menu option to translate and I didn’t know exactly what that was for. I therefore asked the client “What is this for?” and they answer with a simply “This is a menu option”... Ah, well, I already knew that, than you... *whatever* Whenever this happened, I had to ask again (most of the times, luckily, it was a question that all localisers had, and so it needed to be answered). Of course, we might give them several possibilities of what we think it is, and they can ask with just a “Yes” or “No” (then you think it’s better to get up and start banging your head against the wall). However, living several options would be better and clearer for the client to understand our query than simply let them guess what the problem is.

3. Ask the text in the original language from which our source text was translated

Let’s say that the original text was written, for example, in French, and the Developer or agency had translated first into English to then send this English text to the localisers so that they could translate it into their native languages. If the source text we are given is not good and we have issues translating it, it would be better to make sure that we are doing it well by having the original text as reference. Ok, we may not know French (as it is my case), but the proximity between the French and the Spanish, or Italian, or Portuguese may help us to guess what the text is saying. Even things like differentiate between a verb in infinitive (insérez) from one in imperative (insérez) or a imperative (inséré) [Thanks to Irene Marinas for her correction!]. Once I localise a game about “Healthy life”, and in one of the sections, the basic groups of food were explained. One of them were the carbohydrates, which could be acquired (so the English said) from “bread, noodles and rice”. At first I found it strange that they were talking only about noodles, but I thought that, maybe, at some point in the game, the player is told to eat only this type of pasta (for some strange reason). But I continued translating and this noodles, rice and bread appeared many other times as the carbs suppliers and a base of any meal. Then, "Eureka!”, I understood why. The videogame was originally written in German (in fact, the game had already been released in Germany), and in German, the word Nudeln is the term use to refer to any type of food (from spaghetti to noodles to rigatoni… everything). I then decided to speak to the agency, explaining that I thought there was a key mistake in English, and they agreed and said that, when the German game said “Nudeln”, they didn’t mean only noodles (or long-thin pasta) but all types of pasta (they also thanked me for realising and they changed it throughout). But this story didn’t end here. After a while, I started to realise that there were some parts in the English text that had very whimsical sentence structures, which had not much meaning, as well as seeing most of the nouns (if not all) with the first letter in upper case (something that happens in German, but in English shouldn’t be like that). But what actually amused me was when I saw some sentences with the verb at the end. Anybody who speaks a bit of German (even if it’s just a little bit) will know that this verb position is a clear warning that the text has been literally translated from German (or, well, from Latin too). It was then when I decided to ask the client if they could send me the original in German. Yes, my level of German doesn’t allow me to translate directly (7 years without using it is actually too much), but a great dictionary and a bit of imagination, was enough to understand more or less where the text was going to. Otherwise, we can always speak to Mr G Translator: sometimes can help us with that little «extra» of imagination.

4. Ask, if it’s possible, the details of the proofreader or the localisers of the other languages

We have all got stuck with a translation, not because we are not good enough, but more because we see things from just one point of view. We say in Spanish “cuatro ojos ven mejor que dos” (Four eyes see better than two). Similarly, two minds work better than just one. With one of the clients I work with, we use an online tool to translate that allows us to see other localisers’ translations (and, of course, they can also see mine). However, thanks to this visibility, if we have a doubt, we can see what the other localisers had thought. A really good example is the English term «game». In French, Italian and Spanish it can be translated in two different ways: jeu/gioco/juego o partie/partita/partida, so all three languages should use the same term (in each language, of course), which is pretty useful if you aren’t sure. I know it’s not easy that an agency will supply you with the translations in other languages, but they might do it at then end, when they have all the texts compiled, or if they aren’t in a rush. Otherwise, you can always ask straight away if they can tell you how the other translators localised a specific term or sentences (I have also done this, and they have always helped me).

It is also useful to have the contact of the person in charge of the proofreading, not only to discuss and agree with the translation of some terms, but also to ask any doubt of the original. Maybe they have done a similar translation/proofreading before or they have more experience in the subject of the translation or game. Of course, the contact may be the other way round too: they can also ask if they don’t know why we have use a specific translation, or even they can send us the text proofread when it’s finished, so that we can learn from our mistakes.

5. Ask a native

If you have tried the “queries” option and the client is a bit slow in replying, or the agency don’t want to give you the contact of the proofreader (or there is no proofreader at all), you can always try to ask a native for some help. Don’t abuse this tip, though, or they might get tired of you asking. ;) My partner is English speaker and every time I have a doubt with an English text, especially if I think that the term or sentence might be slang or a expression that can’t be translated literally. Most of the times, he solves my doubts. Others, not even him understands the meaning (poor thing, it’s not his fault), but he definitely helps me to understand the text from the point of view of a native, and not from the translator’s one. And I think this is very important when translating: we have to understand the source culture, not just the text itself.


I am sure you use some of those tips (or all of them), and I bet I have forgotten many others. However, I think with these five you have high chances to get it right. Anyone else has a tip they would like to share? We will be delighted to read them.

Thursday, November 3, 2011

Happy birthday!

This morning I received an e-mail letting me know that Isabel García Cutillas (a Spanish blogger I follow) had a new post in her blog. I accessed the blog to read it and it wasn’t until I saw that she was saying that it had already been a year since she started the blog, that I realised that, well, my blog is also a year old! On the 27th of October, this blog turned ON YEAR OLD! (Oooh, how cute!) Time flies. Really. This year has been full of new experiences. I feel as if I had one of those pleasant dreams and, when you wake up, you can only remember a few vague images, just as photographies seen some time back, and the sensation that the dream was a very good one (just like dreaming with Brad Pitt splitting with Angelina and telling you that he wants to be the father of your children). During this year, apart from meeting a long list of Amazing people (and one or too not so good… You know, you can’t make friends if you don’t have enemies), and discover that there is life out there (out of my computer and my desk), I have learnt a lot and I have discovered that you don’t need to hold three masters degrees, two PhD’s and a year of language exchange to be able to do a presentation in front of a hundred people and, not only see that they are entertained, but also they laugh, they don’t throw any tomatoes and, the best of all: they discover new things. And it is that feeling, the feeling of seeing that I manage to open someone’s mind what has made me to jump down the hill like a snowball and write, publish news about the industry, write articles, present papers in conferences, go to VIP conferences and, well, anything needed.

I look back, year 2004, when I (Oh, my!), arrived from my heavenly island to this city of London, a cold evening of autumn (I was wearing summer clothes), with nothing else but a suitcase and my duvet (just in case) hanging from my hands and plenty of hope (oh, yeah!), and I think: if I had discovered Twitter and I had internet connection at home back then, where would I be now? Well, probably exactly where I am, but with more years down the blog archive and with all of you (I hope).

Even though I have only written 14 posts, including this one (I blame the lack of time), I really hope I will (over)exceed that number throughout the year. However, as this blog wouldn’t be the same without you, (yes, it’s true it Works a bit as a therapy), I wanted to let you know that you can suggest subjects you would like me to talk about, anything you would like to know about games localization, any story about how the tester’s life is or, simply, any hints or help about this industry, you know where to find my e-mail address or where is the comments box.

*scroll down*

Thank you very much for your time and happy birthday to you too!

Monday, October 24, 2011

Versatile Blogger Award

Two weeks ago I was excited to know that Rebekka Wellmans had nominated me as a “Versatile blogger”. At first I thought it was just like the #FollowFriday (#FF) on Twitter, but when I went to her website to see the post, I saw that it was much more than just a mention. I just met Rebekka over Twitter not too long ago, but I was pleased to hear that she loved videogames and was Spanish > English translator (it’s always good to have around people who can do inverse translations from your language pairs). And so, when I received this award from her, I felt I had to write more posts about games not only for my Spanish blog but also for this one, in English. So, thanks very much, Rebekka, not only for your award but also for giving me hope that I can actually get far with my posts.

These are the official rules of the award:

1. Thank the award-giver and link back to them in your post. (Done)

2. Share 7 things about yourself.

3. Pass this award along to 15 recently discovered blogs you enjoy reading.

4. Contact your chosen bloggers to let them know about the award.

Seven things you might not know about me:

1) I was born in Mallorca (Spain), and as islander, I love the sea and the sun. I wish it was spring and summer all year long!

2) I love cooking, especially for others.

3) I have always been very close to music. I had piano lessons for 8 years and I sang in a choir for about 12 years. I would have loved to be a famous singer, but I don’t have an amazing voice… Yes, really! I just educated it, and so I can tune, but I am nothing like Aretha Franklin (I wish!).

4) When I was little, I wanted to be a concert pianist, then a painter, then a vet, then a paediatrician, then a singer and an actress (well, this is something I always wanted to be, and I still want!), then an archaeologist, then a journalist, then a teacher, then… I suppose I have always been interested in so many things that I wasn’t able to take a decision…

5) I love photography. In fact, right now, if I wasn’t translator, I would love to be a photographer. To me, it’s a way to capture beauty, to express how I see the world and to share with everybody else a part of me that it is hidden down in me. If you want to see what I can do, I have a photos portfolio too.

6) I love animals and I do loads of recycling. Throughout my life, have had turtles (4), birds (2), a duck (1), hamsters (I have lost count, as my female had several times babies) and cats (just picked them up from the streets). But I have never had a dog (so now you know what to buy me for my birthday J).

7) For many years I had penpal friends. I used to write letters with kids from various parts in the world, including a Japanese girl (Megumi Yamada) and a Cuban girl. I still keep the letters of most of those letters. Ah, and one of those penpal’s friend is now a fan of this blog (¡hola, Natalia!)

My 15 favourite and recently discovered translation blogs (whose owners I award now with the "Versatile Blogger Award"):

- “In other words” (In English. The blogger who gave me this award, whose blog I discovered not long ago. Very interesting blog to read)

- “GLOC” (In English. A great blog about games localisation, with great tips not only for us, localisers, but also for games developers to have into account when creating games)

- “Mox’s Blog” (In English. Humour about translators, the translation industry, rates… everything is in there!)

- “Naked Translations” (In English and French. In it you will find all sorts of posts about language, English, French, translation, tips for students…)

- “Media Loc’s Translation and games Localization blog” (In English. Posts about videogames localization).

- “The Liaison Interpreter” (In English. A blog about interpreting from the point of view of a non-Japanese living in Japan).

- “Tradúceme despacio que tengo prisa” (In Spanish. Apart from being a close friend, her blogger is a great proofreader. She posts about everything translators need to know to make their lives easy, as well as important tips about proofreading).

- “El Carpintero Traductor” (In Spanish. A great blog from a Literary translator and lecturer at Instambul’s University)

- “La prueba de lo ajeno” (In Spanish. A young Blogger and a famous Microblog site translator with so much knowledge in her mind, we all wish we could think like her).

- “Perdido en San Borondón” (In Spanish. A newby with great writing skills who will probably “steal” my clients very soon. Beware!)

- “PlayOver” (In Spanish. A blog about videogames)

- “Aventuras de una traductora-intérprete en Madrid” (In Spanish. I love reading this blog as it is a way to know how the interpreter’s life is without the need of getting out of my flat).

- “The booth inhabitant” (In Spanish. Great blog from a Conference Interpreting MA student in Paris, who will soon become a Conference Interpreter)

- “Johanna Angulo” (In Spanish. A Chilean blogger posting about localisation, translation and loads of great tips for translators)

- “Ara Va de Jocs” (In Catalan. A great blog about games, with good reviews of all games)

Now it’s your turn to pass on the goodies!

Note: There are loads of other blogs that I would have liked to include in here, but I wanted to mention blogs written in both English and Spanish (and that one in Catalan), and also focus a bit on blogs related to this one (so games localisation), and so I had to leave out loads of other great blogs that I follow, so feel free to go through my blogroll and check the rest of them.

Monday, July 11, 2011

Media4All: the «Oscar» of the Audiovisual translation (Part I)

A week after the big audiovisual translation event, I have managed to find a a few minutes to explain you how the experience was. As many of you may know, I presented a paper about videogames localisation and quality assurance (a new version, slightly different from the one I did last December in December, which I started to explain to you about a few months back), therefore, the whole event was even more special for me.

The adventure started on Tuesday the 28th. In the morning there were some workshops on offer for some people. For others, like me, the whole thing started in the evening, as the Spanish Embassy had invited some of the lecturers and collaborators to the embassy. I went there with Jennifer Vela, who I as looping forward to meet again. After Jorge Díaz-Cintas, Fréderic Chaume and the Spanish Ambassador in London addressed their speeches to us, we were allowed to socialise a bit before we had to move to the Imperial College London to the presentation party. It was in this little while at the Embassy that Jennifer introduced me to some of the translation celebrities (Wow! This girl knows loads of important people!), included Miguel Ángel Bernal, one of the most important researchers in videogames localisation. I also saw known faces, such as Pilar Orero’s (I love her!) or Diana Sánchez, who was my teacher at university back in 2003-2004.

Afterwards, we headed to the Imperial College London, where some drinks and munchies were waiting for us: our first networking and socialisation night at Media4All. Jennifer and I spent just a few hours there (including the hour that took us to ay goodbye ^_^) were very interesting. I met some interesting people, got some contacts and enjoyed to see so many people as crazy as me about translation and quality. I also met another teacher from my uni, Eva Espasa, with whom I hope I can collaborate very soon in something (stay tuned: second part coming soon).

The following day, on Wednesday, we started at 9 am and Julia Buckingham opened the conference and introduced a Round Table about Taking Stock in Audiovisual Translation. It was interesting to see how pretty was everything from the point of view of the big multinational company, which infuriated many of the audiovisual freelance translators present. And that was just the beginning… I couldn’t wait to see how everything would end.

After this round table, it was time for a break, tea/coffee and biscuits included. After the break it was the time to go separate ways and choose different rooms, as the parallel presentations were about to start: a total of 5 different rooms offering different presentations simultaneously. Decisions, decisions, decisions. Too many interesting subjects! However, as human clonation hasn’t been invented (yet), nor is teleporting, we had to choose which presentations to go to. As it was the beginning and I had been checking for a few hours, I knew exactly where I was going to go: Audiodescription. Jennifer Vela was presenting a paper and Pilar Orero was the chair, so I couldn’t miss it!

However, it was time of the “anecdote of the day”, and probably, the anecdote of the whole conference. Half-way through the first paper, the FIRE alarm was activated and we had to evacuate the building. We were told that, somewhere in the building, they were recording the last movie of Batman (no, I didn’t see Christian Bale, even though I was looking for him), so we just blamed the recording team for that. I am sure they made something explode and they forgot to warn the security team.

About half an hour later, we were allowed to go back in and we restarted the presentations. Jennifer’s presentation was very interesting, as she compared Audiodescription in different European countries and the USA, as well as the differences in the legal aspect, which proved to be tricky, as nowadays, researches have to pay constant attention to, as rules and regulations keep changing and the information that is true right now, might be obsolete just a few weeks later. Two attendees confirmed her that new laws about Audiodescription and accessibility had been created in some countries. Great news for the accessibility world, aren’t they?

Lunch time arrived, and we went to the food hall to grab some nibbles. It became a bit stressful as it seems the catering service didn’t realise that we were so many hungry people, waiting to be fed. Waiters and waitresses could barely leave the kitchen and the food on their trays was already finished. I had to wait for a long while to be able to grab my first bowl of food. I went to the kitchen Entrance (yes, like a hyena waiting for the lion family to fill their bellies J), where I found Pablo, and asked him to help me get something toe at, as my breakfast and the few biscuits I had during the tea break had been digested a long time ago. My surprise was meeting there a follower of this blog, David (how exciting! A fan!), who also helped me to get another bowl of food. Isn’t that cute?

Lunch time ended and the next presentations session started. This time it was the turn of characters translatability in movies and the effect of those characters in the audiences. Three very interesting papers. On one hand, we were given (loads of) data about audiences in cinema festivals in Italy. Then, Carlos de Pablos explained to us part of his research about how different audiences (people who had contact with Spanish culture and people who had no contact whatsoever, as well as Spanish audiences) perceived the different characters and roles in Pedro Almodóvar’s movies. The results were astonishing, and helped me understand why British people thought I was a bit of a nutter J The last presentation was given by an old university classmate, who explained how characters from the Lord of the Rings books had been “translated” in the movies. I had already seen his presentation in Barcelona, but there he had focus his study on videogames, and not movies, but it was as interesting as the first time I heard him.

Another tea/coffee break and the last session of the day started. Now my heart was divided, as I was interested in the papers being presented in two of the rooms, and so I tried to go first to one of them and, then, to the other one.

I started with audiodescription in museums, which was pretty interesting. They explained that in Ottawa museum they had an App for iPhone and iPad with audiodescription and subtitles of each of their artworks. It was like an accessible audioguide. The rest of the presentation, I was a bit lost, as it seemed they were advertising how great their museum was, and we weren’t interested on listening to commercials, were we? ;)

And the «Vino de honor» (Honour wine) time arrived. I decided to go for juice, as I had some work to do at home, but it seems wine honoured many of the guests. ;) After the wine and networking time, we went to look for a place to have some dinner. The idea was to go to have a pizza, but we couldn’t fidn the place and ended up having English pub dinner. And, as it happens in all English pubs at 11 pm are last orders, so we had to leave. My presentation was the day after, so I decided that my party time was over for the night and went home.

To be continued…

Sunday, June 19, 2011

Quality Assurance, Localisation and Experience: The Perfect Combination for the Best Localisation (Part II)

In my last post, I was explaining what a developer or publisher has to have into account when localising a game, and I also gave some of examples of games, whose developers or publishers have failed in reaching a good localisation. In this post, I will continue with those suggestions on game localisation.

[En español]

c) Poor knowledge of the game
Something translators would request on time and time again when they are given the task to translate anything is to please provide some context. In the case of games localisation, knowing how the game works is crucial in order to get the most accurate translation for each term or sentence. There are multiple examples of how key the context is for a good localisation. For example, in a game where the player has to collect different kinds of objects, the word “bat” could be translated in different ways if we refer to the animal, the “stick” used to bat a baseball, a table tennis bat, or even a verb implying the player to bat. Therefore, there are 1 out of 5 chances to get it right, and so, not only the context but an image or even the game would be necessary to be able to solve this problem successfully.

d) Poor knowledge of the source language
Another example would be those localisations where the user needs not only to know very well the source language, but also how the game to localise works from within. One example of this would be those cases in which the source in English would use the plural to refer to a single person but without wanting to mention the genre of that person (they/them). In Spanish we also have ways to express this “neutral” genre. However, by seeing the English text in plural, any translator without a wide knowledge of this aspect from the English grammar might be tempted to use the plural, instead of singular.
For example, if we go back to the example of Happy Aquarium, when visiting a neighbour, the user can click on an icon to let the aquarium’s owner know that their fish need feeding. At the top-left corner of the screen, there is an icon with the message: “Let them know”, which could literally be translated into Spanish as: “Díselo a ellos”, in plural. However, in the game, by clicking on this button, you only let know ONE person. The correct form in Spanish should be in singular: “Díselo”. In this case, the translator should wonder if this is a neutral singular form or just plural. If they don’t know, they may ask the client for clarification or, as it was explained in the previous point, play the game and discover what that function does, and so, avoid the error in localisation.

e) Specific requirements for a market or culture
The localisation of a videogame takes place, most of the times, while the videogame is still being created. This facilitates the process of adapting the videogame to certain culture, either because puns and jokes won’t be understood in the target culture (and, therefore, we can change them during the Translation/Localisation process), or because certain parts from the source culture are not allowed or accepted by the target one.
For example, in Germany it is forbidden to show red blood or dismemberment of human bodies, or even certain violent scenes in videogames (and it seems that more laws will appear soon on violent videogames development). Therefore, companies wanting to localise their products for the German gamers must add an option in which blood does not look like blood. This can be very creative, sometimes. Most of the times, it can be removed all together, or the colour can be changed, so it is not red anymore. But the options are infinite (as long as the red colour is not used), and creativity can sometimes can sometimes flourish within the design of the game.

In one of the games of the famous Hitman saga, you could either turn off the option of seeing any blood at all, or even switch it to an option that will show flowers instead of blood. Yes, when Agent 47 kills someone in the German version, the dead person “bleeds” flowers. I might be too twee for some people, but it works for the German censorship. In this case the localisation does not really mean an extra cost, as this “flowery” version is included in all languages and the game is sold in just one SKU, Storage Keeping Unit, which in videogames is usually the format or formats the game is created (DVD, game card, downloadable content, etc.).
Sometimes a videogame may require the game developers to do a special version for a certain culture, which will be sold separately, or in a separate SKU. While I was part of the Age of Conan: Hyborian Adventures testing team, I was amazed to learn that the company had to do a special version of the ways to kill an enemy.

Age of Conan is a saga of MMORPG translated into 6 languages, in which the main character, so you, the gamer, has to gain reputation by killing, stealing, helping people, etc. So for you to have an idea of what I mean, just imagine Conan the Barbarian (you can use Arnold Schwarzenegger in this case), slaying enemies with his sword, chopping heads and limbs off and leaving the bodies bleeding to death. Something like that would never be allowed by the German censorship. For this reason, Funcom, the developers, had to create a new version of the game in which the killings were “non-aggressive” (if we can say that). Besides, the character would never chop off any heads or limbs. Blood was also inexistent. Due to all those changes in the code itself, this version had to be sold in a different SKU (on a DVD), aimed only to the German market.
It might seem that localising a game might mean a lot of effort and money, and that doing those special versions may make things too complicated, raise the budget and make the whole project more expensive, but when a game is good and the foreign gamers like the localisation, the sales a company may reach will completely justify the initial expense. Because a good localised product does not have to be too expensive, and it should not add any extra issues to the already complicated software creation. I think it is wrong to believe that, the most important thing when creating a videogame is to keep costs to the minimum, without caring what the result will be. Also, localising a videogame once the whole process is finished or doing it while the product is being created can make a whole of a difference. As Diana Díaz Monzón explains in her article about localisation, “planning the game localisation from the beginning is an investment that may be tremendously profitable: up to 50% of income is obtained from international markets”. The “easy” solution may not always be the cheapest and not even the one providing the best quality.
But with the industry in need of experienced, flexible and hard-working professionals, we should wonder why do we see once and again games that haven’t been properly localised (such as the examples I showed above). Are external contractors the best to do the job or is it better to have everything done internally? I will try to explain these and other questions in my next post.

Thanks for reading.

Tuesday, June 14, 2011

And the winner is...

On my last post, I explained that I had been nominated for “The Best 100 Language Lovers”. To be more precise, I had been nominated to the 100 language tweeterers (@Currixan) and also, the Facebook profile of this blog, Localización y testeo con Curri, had also been nominated for the 100 Language Facebook Fan Pages. The results we published some time ago (sorry, I haven’t had much time to prepare this post to announce it), and all I can say is that it has been quite good for me, having into account that both my Facebook page was created only around 6 months ago, and my Twitter profile had been around for less than a year.

And so, the rankings are as follows:

Twitter: @Currixan was 16 out of 100 → You can see the Top-25 here. If you have a Twitter profile, have a look at their profiles and follow the guys and girls on the list (well, apart from me, of course ^_^), as some of them offer really good info. Before the contest, I was already following a few of them, such as Pablo, Catherine or Silvina), and there are others, who I have started following after the contest, and they have tweeted very interesting news about languages and translations.

Facebook Page (Localización y testeo con Curri): I was 16 out of 100 → No, it is not a mistake. Maybe 16 should be my new lucky number, but yes, I was, again, 16th. The top-25 Facebook fan pages can be seen here. It’s worth having a look, as many other known translators and followers of this blog also had good results, such as Ismael, Pablo or Leticia.

It is also worth having a look to the other two categories:

Professional blogs, where you can find people like Clara, with her blog «Bootheando», Pablo («Algo más que traducir»), Judy and Dagmar, with her excellent bilingual blog «Translation Times», the well-known José Yuste Frías, or Corinne McKay’s blog called «Thoughts on Translation».

Language learning blogs, where «Fluent in 3 months» won the prize to the best language learning blog thanks to the good tips suggested. In this category, there are blogs with tips to learn many different languages, so have a look at the list.

And last, but not least: from the contestants in all categories (i.e., 400 in total), they did a list of the 100 language lovers, where my Twitter was ranked
44th, which I think it’s a pretty good ranking.

All this, thanks to you, and you, and you, because you have encouraged me to write. And you also have voted for me. Thank you very, very much.

Wednesday, May 18, 2011

And the time to vote has come

The Best Language Lovers 2011 contest, organised by LexioPhiles and bab.la, has started.

A few weeks ago, I learnt that someone had nominated my Facebook page about this blog for the Favourite Language Facebook Page 2011 category. Yesterday, seeing that I was amongst the 100 best pages, I decided to announce it to everybody. My amaze increased when someone told me that, besides, my Twitter account was ALSO nominated for the Favourite Language Twitterer 2011 category. You can’t even imagine how happy I am, so I would like toyou’re you that, if you think that my page or my Twitter account (or both) deserve to win (I used both to publish news, articles, blog entries, etc. about language, videogames, localisation, etc.), please, vote for me. J

It’s as easy as:

1. Go to the page with the nominations:

- Favourite Language Twitterer: http://www.lexiophiles.com/language-lovers-toplist/time-to-vote-for-your-favorite-language-twitterer-2011

- Favourite Language Facebook Page: http://www.lexiophiles.com/language-lovers-toplist/time-to-vote-for-your-favorite-language-facebook-page-2011

2. Find within the list the Facebook page: «Localización y testeo con Curri» or the Twitter account: @Currichan (Curri Barceló).

3. Scroll down and click on «Vote».

What you get in exchange?

Make me very, very happy, and encouraging me to continue writing, publishing news, speaking about languages, videogames, etc.

Of course, if you think there is another Facebook page or Twitter account deserveing more your vote, I don’t mind if you vote for them. There are many good pages and Twitter profiles, which also deserve the prize.

I also suggest you to visit the other two categories:

- Language Professional Blog: http://www.lexiophiles.com/language-lovers-toplist/time-to-vote-for-your-favorite-language-professional-blog-2011

Donde aparecen nominados estupendos compañeros de profesión como Pablo, Clara, José, Álex/Mox, Corinne y Sebastián,

- Langauge Learning Blog: http://www.lexiophiles.com/language-lovers-toplist/time-to-vote-for-your-favorite-language-learning-blog-2011

May the best win!

Sunday, March 27, 2011

Quality Assurance, Localisation and Experience: The Perfect Combination for the Best Localisation (Part I)

First of all, I wanted to apologise for not having updated my blog for so long, but I have been busy on personal things, doing some more website testing, doing some translation tests and, well, embracing the arrival of spring, which will probably be the season with the best weather we will have in London. I have also been preparing a paper to be published. I have never thought that publishing a paper was so challenging, especially because of the amount of references and the tone you need to use (well, you know me, it’s hard for me to be cold-serious at all times…). But I am still working on it. Hopefully, I will manage to get a good text and I will get it published.
But now it is time to explain you a bit about one of the subjects that really worry me: Quality Localisation of videogames. That was what I talked about at the Conference about Translation and Accessibility on Videogames and Virtual Worlds in Barcelona.
So, Ready? Stady? Go!

Quality Assurance, Localisation and Experience: The Perfect Combination for the Best Localisation.

1.- Introduction
Videogames, Arcade games, Facebook applications, smartphone applications, mobile games, online games… Since their first conception in the 50s, and their boom in the 70s, we all have interacted with one those in some way: on an arcade machine at the nearest pub, at our best friend’s house, using our older brother’s consoles, being beaten by our big brother, at the school/university computer (even though this is not allowed) or grabbing our partners’ phone when they aren’t looking… The era of the Internet allowed the games industry to take off and get to what we know it now, where we can interact with other people in our games, or even play and speak at the same time. Nowadays, we are more connected with the rest of the world than ever, and selling a videogame in an international market can prove huge benefits for its creator (Diana Monzón, 2006: 4). It is because of all this that the translation of any game or application is essential for any company that would like to reach top marks in sales worldwide.
But, as it always happens in any business, money seems to be the most important part, and, at the same time, localisation and creating good versions of a game or application for international markets seems to be the least important part of their business. Therefore, the localisation of software is not always up to the highest standards, not only because companies want to save on costs, but probably because they don’t really understand the importance of a localised product and how it can impact on their sales.

2.- What is considered a good localisation?
There are examples of games in which this cultural adaptation has been brought too far.
a) Translations too specific for a culture or a generation
Not long ago, Álvaro García, a blogger who writes about translation in his blog “[Sé lo que] Traducistes”, helped us discovering a fantastic game, which had been localised into Spanish following a parody on a famous Spanish comedian. The whole game was full of expressions used by this comedian in his jokes, which made this localisation not only a bit old-fashioned, but also a bit annoying. It is true that one of the prints of the creativity present in the games localisation is the so-called linguistic variation (which Molina and Hurtado, 2002, defined as “the introduction in the target text of dialects absent in the original for characterisation purposes”), but I think, in this case, the localiser went one step too far. I have not played the game, but we could imagine that, spending around 20 hours reading not only spelling and grammar mistakes but also the same type of language, jokes and twists that used to characterise that comedian, can be very, very tiring. I will mention three examples that made me raise an eyebrow:
1) If you can understand Spanish, in this first image you can see how an extra “l” is added to the end of the last word of each line. This was how this comedian used to pronounce some words. It was funny for a while, but that was 15 years ago. Not anymore. Also, in this case, it shows the lack of imagination of the translator, who instead of doing a proper poem out of three lines, with their corresponding rhyme and metrics, decided to rhyme those lyrics by making the words to finish the same way.

2) In the second case, the translator decided to use one of the insulting words of that comedian. “Fistro” is what this comedian would use to call someone an idiot (pardon my French), even though that word does not exist in Spanish. But the irony of all is that, in the game, this was not used as an insult, but as the name of a character.

3) In some cases, the localisation of some of the characters names was puzzling and difficult to find a relation with the original. And it is not because the translator decided to localise most of the names and use proper Spanish names, which would have made some sort of sense, but the fact that, in some cases, references to this comedian, certain Spanish beverages, insults or even politicians, were added to the localised name.

One good point is that the three main characters were localised properly adapting the original names to how they would be pronounced by a Spanish-speaker:

· Howser → Hauser
· Liam → Liam
· Verde → Verdi
On the other hand, some of the names of the “supporting characters” can bring some giggles or smiles to those Spaniards reading them, and not for the good reasons:
· Jaden → Merluzo (male hake; a fish)
· Mike → Florentino (a TV Presenter)
· Adolf → Rosendo (the name of a Spanish band)
· Lily → Pecadora (Sinner, female)
· Caden → Aznarín (“Little Aznar”. Aznar is a Spanish former politician)
There are also other funny names such as Tintorro (beverage) or Fistra, as well as other very old-fashioned names such as Hortensio, Agapito, Fecunda or Wilfredo (Wilfred), which brings us to our memories names of our grandparents and great grandparents.
This is the full list of names, for your rejoice:
Main characters
· Howser -> Hauser

· Liam -> Liam
· Verde -> Verdi
Secondary characters
· Mr M. -> M.
· Elaine -> Rosario
· Kenzie -> Darío
· Nicole -> Romilda
· Jaden -> Merluzo
· Mike -> Florentino
· Lunasa -> Aurelia
· Keine -> Belén
· Deon -> Wilfredo
· Sadie -> Concepción
· Adolf -> Rosendo
· Lily -> Pecadora
· Caden -> Aznarín
· Shea -> Fabián
· Alena -> Soraya
Unknown characters
· Xavier, Josh, Merlan, Lyrica, Conner, Grace, Kaleb, Aidan y Cace.
· Elias, Ariadna, Hortensio, Agapito, Claudio, Aurora, Fecunda, Fistra, Araceli, Tintorro.

The problem of this localisation is that it can’t travel through time (15 years later, people might not understand the jokes) and people from other countries where Spanish is spoken might not understand it either (not only in Latin America, but also any other person in any country where people might understand Spanish). This is because the localisation has been made for a particular culture, is stuck in a period of time relatively short (what are 5 years of the comedian Chiquito de la Calzada in Spain when Spanish language has been “alive” for 1000 years!). I doubt many of the teenagers nowadays can understand this localisation, as when Chiquito de la Calzada was on TV, they were just babies, or maybe their parents weren’t even together! J
Yes, it is important to adapt the product to the culture, but it has to be understood by most of its members, even better if several generations can understand it. It is also recommendable, especially with humour, that it can work well throughout the years.

b) Localisations unfinished or partly localised
Apart from those cultural-related issues when localising, there are other mistakes in localisation that may come from lack of information about the game to localise or even a poor level of the source language that they might have. Sometimes, it can be as easy as the lack of interest from the developer/distributor to even spend some money on doing a proper localisation. One example of the latter can be found in the so-called Spanish localised version of Happy Aquarium. This is a very simple game, in which the player has to keep and take care of an aquarium by buying fish and making sure they are fed and healthy at all times. But it seems the developers gave up too quickly in localising the game, as they have left it half translated.

The text highlighted in red is translated whereas other items that are always present, such as the Rescue/Ignore icons or even the ‘s after the name of the owner of the Aquarium, aren’t localised. Even in the game tabs at the top, it seems that they forgot to translate basic things such as “My neighbours”.

To be continued...