Pseudo translation

Pseudo translation, how and why?
How can you tell if all of your application is ready for translation? You may think all your strings are externalized, and that the code is capable of displaying correctly in Chinese and Arabic, but how can you tell before translating it?
The answer is pseudo translation!
Good pseud-translation contains several elements that test different aspects of globalization:

  • An indicator of the language. For a Polish locale, for instance, the pseudo-text could start with PL.
  • Some characters that are special to that language. To make sure that all Polish characters can be displayed, include a few accented characters in the string such as “Ł” (Capital L with stroke). If this character is garbled, your code has a problem with encoding.
  • Extra length. Most languages are less “compact” than English, so the average length of strings is different. If your target language has an expected expansion of 30%, add at least 30% to the pseudo-translations.
  • Contains the original text. Your developers and local testers need to understand the text, because they are doing the development and testing and they don’t speak Polish. A good practice is to wrap the original text with the extra padding and special characters, to form the pseudo string. This can be understood without understanding the target language.
  • A terminator, such as another language indicator. This is important because if the terminator is absent, it means the text was truncated (string length too short to accommodate the translation). The terminator also lets you know if the string gets concatenated to the following string (e.g. if there is a missing space, tab, or other punctuation).

Here is an example of an English string, and a pseudo-Polish string:
English: Now is the time for all good men
Polish: PL_Łżńacha_Now is the time for all good men————PL
PL indicates that this is for Polish
Łżńacha is a selection of Polish accented characters
Now is the time… is the original text.
—— is used to pad the string to add 30% (for example)
the second PL is a terminator.
When to pseudo-translate
Any time during development is a good time to pseudo-translate and view the results. Ideally this should be done for every build, at least until the final translations are available. Even then, it is good to keep the pseudo-translations around to verify text expansion and other globalization issues.
Some scripts are available in Perl and other scripting languages. For more information contact Ficorp.

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