How to prepare terminology for localization?

Consistent use of terms in the game makes it more readible and playable and it also facilitates localization. Terminology is the skeleton for localization of your game.

The translator’s role is to KEEP CONSISTENCY and not to INTRODUCE IT (generally). If you – the developer – use terminology inconsistently, these inconsistencies sometimes can sneak to localization unnoticed by the translator. It is possible that even the most inquisitive translator may not notice that Gerry Jones and Jerry Jonas is the same character. Translator SHOULD spot this issue and ask about it, as this seems suspicious. Yet, context might me misleading, erroneous usage of the name might not be so striking in a given string, and perhaps it was introduced on purpose by the developer?… So it is developer’s duty to maintain consistent use of terminology as he knows the game inside-out.

On the other hand the developer, knowing the game inside-out can get “blind” on some issues. Here comes the translator who, with his “fresh” eye, is responsible for monitoring and reporting terminology issues or inconsistencies in the source text.


What terminology should I prepare?

The easiest solution would be to use Excel(-like software) and write down every key term that appears in our game WHILE it appears for the first time. Yes – the terminology (and in a broader sense – localization) should be thought of from the very beginning of game development. As if you did not know this already…

While preparing glossary of terms write down all the:

• proper names

• character names

• UI names

• words not to be translated

• terms that you created

• words you use in an unusual manner

• terms you think should be paid attention to

If the list grows long, there is a chance some terms would be repeated. So before finalizing the terminology list find the duplicates and delete them. The solution for Excel is here:


Spellcheck and double spell-check

Your game will be translated with a CAT tool (Computer Aided Translation). And terminology as well. CAT tools automatically recognize terms. If your terminology contains spelling mistakes the auto-recognition feature will not work and there is a higher chance of inconsistencies. So if the character uses a “gold scythe”, make sure it is not a “god scythe”. Yes, this spelling mistake will not be found by any standard spell checking engine – you need to find it yourself.


Bold is bold and underline is underline

If you underline key names or bold it – be consistent. Same goes to punctuation and capitalization. Consistency allows to avoid ambiguity for the player and helps the translator to distinguish for example between spells (e.g. underlined) and GUI menu items (e.g. bold).


Use common phrases consistently

So if you have a button, stick to one form of interacting with it: press the button, click the button, tap the button, choose the button. Do not mix it. You can also mark the terms as DISALLOWED. Example: your game is developed only for touch screen devices, so using the term CLICK makes no sense neither in source text nor in translations. However, clicking is so popular and sometimes natural that it would be tempting to use this term, again – both by you and the translator. So you can state in your term list that all the UI items should be tapped, or touched, or pressed, but never CLICKED.


Provide as much information about terms as possible

Providing a list of terms for translation is not enough. Glossary of terms will be the first resource to be translated and the translator at this point does not know the game. If you want to minimize the number of poor translations spend some time on giving context to the terms. For NPC characters’ names state they are NPCs, give gender, mark the names as “not to be translated” or describe what style of translation do you expect. It is worth it. Remember about GIGO queue!
20 May, 2015 one comment Bez kategorii

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Michał Tosza – who am I?

Game, software localization

Computer, console, tabletop games

WB, Google, Microsoft, Apple & many others

Translators, teachers, lecturers, universities