Let’s face it - there are some silly buzzwords used in many industries and the translation and localization industry is no exception. Most buzzwords are ridiculous sounding and overused, but even worse, unclear and ill-understood. What is “dynamic collaborative interface” or “innovative value-add”?
Who talks like that?
We do, and maybe it’s not doing anyone any good. We use these buzzwords so much that we think we know what they mean, but they’re thrown around so often that they’ve practically lost their meaning. Buzzwords tend to fog or oversimplify complex concepts.
Let’s revisit and clarify the meanings of three of the most common localization buzzwords. Each is a trap, a concept made too facile, without a full understanding of the valid concept beneath it. They are integration, automation, and process optimization.
This is thought to be an easy-peasy way to link two systems together through a “connector” so that their processes flow back and forth, beautifully. First of all, this concept is a myth. While systems (e.g. a translation workflow tool and a TMS or CMS) such as this can exist and do exist, in reality it looks more like what is shown below.
Integration of two systems can save time and costs, but it doesn’t just mean plug and play.
Many hope that automation means a script or a tool that lets you click a button and work gets done by itself. It sounds great, but it's wishful thinking as a process panacea and the truth is that many processes need to occur offline, manually. Examples of this include Machine Translation, file processing, and QA.
- Machine Translation (MT) has its purpose, and it is articulated here in an earlier Moravia blog. It does not, however, produce perfect, human-level content, despite customizations. It cannot automate a process that requires human input, judgment and creativity.
- File processing. Not all file types are alike, and many (especially proprietary ones) require fiddling or conversion. Automation can take care of some formats, but not all.
- Linguistic Quality Assurance. Tools and scripts can check translated deliverables for untranslated words, missing punctuation, glossary non-compliance. None of them, however, can check for clarity of idea and flow. Like MT, validation of linguistic quality will always require actual brain power.
See the visual synopsis of this below: only at your own risk should you expect to set up an automation that will take care of everything beautifully.
This is a dear dream to put all the pieces, needs and goals of a localization program into one nice, linear, easily flowing process (perhaps by “system integration”). Doing so would squeeze all inefficiencies out of a localization program. While many localization tasks can be serialized within a system, creating an optimal process requires constant collaboration and calibration (two other buzzwords – I do apologize) to make sure cost and schedule are coming down, and quality is going up. Process optimization is not a “set it up and let it go” thing.
Now that this is clearer, let’s have some fun. There are even websites, like this business jargon generator, that satirize the meaningless, random nonsense these words have become. Enjoy, but at the same time, let’s watch our language! Let’s agree to use these terms more carefully, adding clarity when we discuss them by defining exactly what they mean.
What other vague buzzwords are you seeing in our industry?
Watch this space for blogs on more industry buzzwords, what they mean, and how they could shop up as a service we provide for our clients.