Corps de l’article
Perspectives on Localization is a collection of articles from both industry and academe covering a wide range of topics, conveniently divided into seven chapters. Localization, by its very nature, is an extremely complex, broad discipline that encompasses bits and pieces of diverse fields of study such as engineering, linguistics, finance, and project management. Such complexity means that each of the chapters could easily be expanded into a book of its own, allowing the book to function best, perhaps, as a mini-sampler of 1-3 articles discussing specific issues within each of the various perspectives.
The chapters cover the localization business case, localization quality, game localization, terminology management, localization education, localization standards, and “rethinking the paradigm.”
The localization business case articles provide interesting insight into the many aspects involved in understanding how, and even if, money can be made from localization projects. DiFranco’s article deftly fleshes this topic out, first showing the difficulty of determining a cost for a project and then examining the “cost drivers” and how they might be kept in check by pre-planning or other methodologies. DePalma’s cross-company research gives us a broad look at the ROI on projects using methodologies that more accurately capture the true nature of cost than traditional methods. He provides a step-by-step approach which is very helpful.
Localization quality is next and features two articles, one practical and another more theoretical. The articles point out the difficulty of measuring quality, controlling it, and even defining it. Bass takes us on a journey into this often mysterious world from his perspective in the translation business which increasingly acts as both translation and localization negotiator between client and end user, sometimes answering to both on issues of quality management and planning. Dunne helps us understand the limits of ISO 9001, an industry standard on quality that is undergoing challenges as new technologies emerge and globalization affects more and more companies.
From the general to the specific, we now move to game localization. The two articles in this chapter deal only with computer-based games and are interesting to non-specialists as windows into the complexities in this fast-growing niche market.
Terminology management encompasses the next chapter and we learn about a field of ever-increasing importance and one that, if not managed correctly, can become a major cost driver. Lombard’s experience at Microsoft provides a good case study of what it must be like to manage terminology at source-language level in a company with thousands of products released in many different languages. Her lists are helpful and necessary and can serve as a guide to planning one’s own terminology management processes. As Dunne notes in his introduction to the book, “nearly all leading practitioners agree [terminology management] is of critical importance…but few companies have successfully implemented at the enterprise level.”
We turn next to localization education with just one article. Folaron’s text focuses on localization education in the academy and how such a wide-ranging field might fit into academia’s sometimes rigid wall among disciplines. She provides a set of “competencies” that students should master within a localization study program, keeping in mind that the practicality of such a program must be held equally important toward both professional and academic objectives.
Localization standards are the topic of chapter 6. Wright’s articles is particularly illuminating for specialist and non-specialist audiences as her vast experience in the field has lead her to be part of many of the organizations mentioned. In addition, the sheer number of them is greater than one might expect, with each taking its own stance of standards and what should be subject to standards. Her discussion of coding standards is engaging as it takes on the pervasive problem of data interchange across software programs and computer platforms.
The final chapter, Rethinking the Paradigm, is an appropriate denouement to the book. The pair of articles look at specific issues in a post-mortem light. After all is said and done, how might the processes be re-thought, re-designed, re-purposed, or otherwise adapted to meet the challenges not only of today, but tomorrow as well? Dray and Siegel look to “user-centered design” as a new paradigm for meeting the needs of international customers. Shreve contends that the full exploitation of corpus material within (or otherwise available to) a company is not being achieved and he sees larger potentials for understanding how to use a corpus beyond, and perhaps in addition to, the word or sentence unit.
As a whole, the book is not something one would pick up and read as a whole. Instead, readers will likely select a few articles of immediate interest, leaving others for another time or using them for research. Some readers may find the book lacking in depth but it must be understood that the book is not a primer or a how-to guide; the book functions exactly as the title suggests, giving various perspectives on a collection of areas within the field of localization. Its strength lies in its diversity, pointing out the many ways in which localization affects a company, a scholar, a manager, an accountant, an engineer, and more.
What the book lacks in depth is made up for in its ancillaries, such as the lists of references cited at the end of each article, the notes appended to articles, the appendix, and the list of suggested readings.
Some of the articles are rather specialist in nature, such as those in the chapter on game localization but the underlying issues faced are common across industries so that even if the articles may not appeal initially to non-specialists, as readers advance in their knowledge of localization, they will find the articles valuable.
Future editions of this type of work might take each of the chapters and develop a reader on each of them, perhaps as a monograph series.