Re: Cultural stereotyping and internationalization

Subject: Re: Cultural stereotyping and internationalization
From: Sarah Carroll <sarahc -at- INDIGO -dot- IE>
Date: Sat, 16 Aug 1997 11:34:39 +0100

Hi all,

There are really two issues being discussed here,
internationalisation and localisation.

When material is "localised" as opposed to just
"translated", the material is adapted to the local
market, rather than just translated verbatim. A
localised document may use different examples
to those used in the source document, if the examples
are not fully relevant to the culture or practices of
the target market. The writing style of the translator,
may differ greatly to the style of the original author.
A good translator will always attempt to mirror
the style, but there will usually be differences.

When documentation is being written that is to
be distributed internationally, without being
translated or localised, a number of issues come
into play, and the writer needs to take more
care not to unintentionally offend the sensibilities
of the target audience, whose cultures may
be quite diverse.

Those of us outside of the US are quite used to
seeing technical and other documentation
with a "z" in a word which we would normally
spell with an "s", and references to zip codes
and mail box flags which are US specific entities.
This does not normally offend.

One comment I received after delivering a seminar
on localisation issues for technical writers was
that it would have been better if the slides and
handouts had been "localised" for the US audience,
using the "z" rather than the "s" spelling.
I did ask the commentator if he would have
enjoyed the seminar more if we had all spoken
with American accents. <g>

At 14:10 15/08/97 -0400, Susan Brown wrote:
>Of course, nothing is ever black and white,
>but what struck me particularly were the comments
>from the translators about why they had not
>made more verbatim translations of the
>supplied text, and why they had made
>the changes in voice, gender, tense, etc..

I'd love to see more seminars/workshops like this
one being available to technical communicators,
you never know when your company is going to decide
to ship internationally, and the more aware you are of
the issues that arise when localisation enters the
picture, the more efficient your localisation process
is going to be.

sarahc -at- indigo -dot- ie

TECHWR-L (Technical Communication) List Information: To send a message
to 2500+ readers, e-mail to TECHWR-L -at- LISTSERV -dot- OKSTATE -dot- EDU -dot- Send commands
Search the archives at or search and
browse the archives at

Previous by Author: Re: Mission Statements
Next by Author: Re: Choosing a DTP Package
Previous by Thread: Re: Cultural stereotyping and internationalization
Next by Thread: Re: Cultural stereotyping and internationalization

What this post helpful? Share it with friends and colleagues:

Sponsored Ads