A: So, what's the status of our language release?
B: Well, A, I have captured all the dates and progress in an xls file.
B projects the excel sheet and A looks at it closely.
B: Any questions, A?
A looks confused.
A: I get most of it but what is Lion? Something new we are experimenting with? Like Agile or waterfall development?
So there, I have set context to what the next thousand words entail; it's A's question, "What is Lion?" My immediate response to the question would be, "Aah! That's exactly what I had asked too!"
First things first, let me tell you, it is not Lion, it is L-10(ten)-N. El-ten-en. It is a numeronym for localisation. Now what is localisation? Read on!
My tryst with this L10N was about a year ago. Just when I thought I had mastered technical writing, destiny had other plans for me. One of those boring groggy Monday mornings, when all I could think of was my duvet and the most comfortable bed in the world, I was suddenly jolted to reality when I was cast into a cell with localisation, then only a little-perceived beast. Pause here for a moment, gentle reader, and imagine the situation: me, alone, in a prison cell, with L10N.
Forget the numeronym, when I began my journey, even the term 'localisation' was alien to me. Like any novice, I began to expand my horizon by reading. Localisation, to quote from Wikipedia, is:
The process of adapting a product that has been previously translated into multiple languages to a specific country or region. It is the second phase of a larger process of product translation and cultural adaptation (for specific countries, regions or groups) to account for differences in distinct markets.
Sounds simple, huh? Now let me toss some jargon at you: Term List, Translation Memory, Query Log, Internationalisation, and more.
My team went into an eternal mode of research, and when my manager thought the clock was ticking rather fast, and that she was losing more hair than usual, with the added problem of them turning grey, we decided to call in a localisation expert to take us through the entire process and help us understand what it would take to localise our product. Now, that is a long, extremely long, sentence. Read it again, gentle reader, without breaks so that you get a hang of the stress that I went through - not when framing that line, but when I was figuring out L10N.
So again, on a boring groggy Monday morning, (it's strange that most life-altering or life-threatening events occur on Mondays!) five of us sat in a meeting room, sipping coffee and hoping that the presentation would be solution to all the problems in our lives. Now, our problems ranged from bad coffees to cooks and maids not turning up to aunties who were killing themselves to understand why we were unmarried to the performance review that was due in a week. I might not have done enough justice to describe the problems but I guess that list gives you an idea of what we had dealt with over the weekend and had carried over to office that day.
One problem that was being taken care of was that I would get enough information about localisation, so that the next time I was bombarded with a question on L10N I would not have to bang my head on the nearest hard surface. Well, the presentation did help me on the head-banging front, and I must also tell you readers, the presenter was one stylish lady. Most of us sat ogling at her pixie cut hair, her bespoke attire, and, well, her matte-finish lipstick as well. But, that is beside the point.
To cut a long story short, my team did tie down the L10N beast eventually. Although we are yet to have our first successful language release, I must gloat over the fact that we are almost there! And what do you get from reading this long success story? Well, the learnings of my journey from technical writing to localisation, which are listed here.
It was not a cake walk for me or my team. We failed at times, and could not produce results at other times, but we did not give up. In trying to tackle localisation head-on, making sure our product was localisation-ready, and co-ordinating with software developers and business developers, it was a long tiring journey. But, I must say we have succeeded. To the experts in this field, all that I say here may sound banal, but for us as a team, as amateurs, this was learning and an accomplishment.
To quote my favourite poet Rumi, "As you start to walk out, the way appears". And so, that sums up my journey, a journey that took guts and gave glory. http://www.qaielearning.com/KnowledgePapers/Localization_Internationalization_Testing.pdf
The lion picture is from http://megaicons.net/iconspack-898/39995/ and is freeware.