Who’s up for a blog series kickoff which starts with a nice Google search screenshot? I know I am.
So, without further adieu, to start our new series on localization, here’s a screenshot from a Google search which sums up real nicely what this series is all about:
(Yes, this screenshot is relevant. Wait for it.)
(No, this blog series will not always feature almost completely blank / white screenshots at the beginning.)
(Or, will it? We shall see…)
Why the ≈ symbol? Again – wait for it.
To be brief and upfront: the concept of localization is widely unknown and misunderstood. To use a more known term – the concept of translation is just as widely unknown and misunderstood, and particularly so in areas which are predominantly monolingual.
For the most part, in monolingual societies, the belief is that there can always be an = between languages. Apple = mazana, blue = azul, etc.
This belief is, however, erroneous. There is a much more appropriate symbol for ‘localization’ – and one which, though extremely important to this field, yields little results in … Google.
Google search results: say no more. You Google it – you get results – you’ve found artifacts which have become relevant in our modern spheres. These are human creations, to which we have lent enough energy as to deem them ‘findable‘ and ‘attached‘ – and therefore, relevant – to the human experience, whether in the past, present, or future.
You Google it – you get “Your search ______ did not match any documents.” Aha – what have we here, mes amis?
This is different from when Google tries to correct our mistakenly-entered or mis-spelled search queries, and offers would-be solutions, such as: Showing results for __________. Or, sometimes Google gives us the suggestive “Did you mean __________”?
So, what tiny artifact – what bit of text, have we entered, which yielded no results in Google? A made-up place name? No. A mis-spelled word? No.
A simple, mathematical symbol, which comprises almost the whole of the concept of localization. (Cease waiting now):
Yep, that’s it. The ≈ symbol, otherwise known as Unicode 2248, which is also related to symbols ≃, ≅, ~, and ≒. These little, significant symbols represent the key concept to understanding localization and translation: approximation.
In this blog series, we’ll explore that symbol, and the concept of ‘approximately equal’, as keys to understanding localization. It is our primary focus that language is a human connector, used for reducing uncertainty and increasing connection between living things. As such, it’s not our intention to be strictly mathematical. In fact, the strict focus on math alone is one of the main reasons for which monolingual societies misunderstand translation and localization. Hence the ≠ symbol.
As it is, localization ≠ translation. Translation is a part of localization – not a synonym for it. And, in this case, part does not equal the whole. Ever. Translation alone is never enough.
So, we’ll become friends with ≈ as we endeavor in this new blog series. Themes such as translation, transcription, grammar, stylistics, tone, nonverbal communication, voice, gaze, haptics, kinesics, proxemics, chronemics, and semantics will be explored in order to take us from = to ≈.
= ≠ ≈. Translation ≠ localization. Blue ≈ azul. The art of localization. And so forth…
Who knows – with enough posts to this series – we just might get some results from Googling ≈. It could happen. Wait for it …