The complicated relationship between translators and testers

For those of you who are not familiar with how the software/games localization chain works, here’s a simple guide to the process:

  • Source language content (user interface, dialogues, manuals, etc) is translated
  • Translations are implemented into the software
  • The software is tested by the linguistic testers (LQA)
  • If required, the translations are amended

It’s no secret that translators often work with no visual references. While they have context information, samples and character limits, they can’t see the final product during the translation process. That’s why an LQA check is essential. It helps to avoid text truncations, out of context translations and it can also improve the quality of translated content. It allows elements to be added that the translation team couldn’t produce without sight of the final product, and which help the user understand what they have to do or the purpose of a particular function.

Changes are not always made directly by the testers or applied automatically by the translators. A bug can often lead to some interesting linguistic discussions between the two teams. An issue might be bounced back and forth, with quotes from encyclopaedias, books, articles, etc, until a solution is found and agreed by all.

Translators and testers are also artists themselves, whose aim is to maintain the original creativity of the translation, while keeping an eye on fluency and the needs of the target audience (in the same way as painters, sculptors, writers and musicians also consider their audience).
And not all artists are happy when someone asks them to change what they’ve created. The first rule in this relationship is therefore: respect the opinions of others (the second is: “always communicate clearly, so that the tester can immediately understand the issue raised about a bug in a sea of other bugs”).

When asking colleagues to make improvements, it’s essential to be polite, engage positively in any discussions and remember that the main aim is to ensure that customers enjoy the game, use it as intended and that they understand the instructions .

As the title of this post states, it’s a complicated relationship, but it’s one that ensures products are properly localized and allows people to forget they’re enjoying translated material.