#AskaLocalizer 4: Communicating with your linguists

Dear #AskaLocalizer,

As soon as I finished my master’s degree, I entered a tech firm and am currently working as a localization project manager. I have enjoyed this job so far, realizing that most of the project management skills I have learned in school apply to my job. However, I have found it extremely hard to communicate with the linguists and LSPs I contract with. Although I usually ask them to send me a pre-localizability checklist along with the deliverables, sometimes their work is not satisfactory. Sometimes the list does not include specific details or information needed to improve localization quality. Do you have any advice on how to better communicate with linguists and ensure they have sufficient information needed for the projects and are fully aware of what I expect with deliverables?


Confused LPM

Dear Confused LPM,

Communicating effectively with the vendors is essential to success of a localization project, and it can be challenging for both new and experienced LPMs to provide accurate and thorough information about context, scope, instructions, and the ultimate goal of a project that goes beyond regular translation tasks. Here are some tips on how you can improve communication with your linguists on complex projects:

1. Design your own spreadsheet

Sometimes spreadsheets can be a more powerful tool to illustrate complex instructions compared to several paragraphs of texts, where linguists might easily miss the details. In the case of a localizability check project, although the vendors might have done localizability checks before, they still need to be briefed on what you expect their feedback to be, based on the style, brand, content types, target audience etc. of your company. A good way to share your instructions could be to create a pre-localization checklist in the format of a spreadsheet. Instead of writing a long paragraph of the scope, and what kind of feedback to provide, you can create a spreadsheet with multiple columns, with each column focusing on a particular topic for them to provide clear feedback on potential issues, suggested changes, consequences, and severity levels. Compared to freeform feedback, linguists are less prone to miss details if they provide feedback in a more restricted format.

2. Make a drop-down menu instead of using an empty spreadsheet

When you initiate a conversation with the vendors about your goals, it is crucial to provide the vendors with as much information as possible, as they usually need more than they initially anticipated to finish their work. However, some LPMs may wonder how we can help the vendors be specific about their feedback in order to avoid any ambiguity on the deliverables that may confuse the LPMs.

Drop-down list in a spreadsheet is another useful tool when it comes to a more restricted format to hold linguists accountable on deliverables, as mentioned above. For instance, instead of writing a paragraph about what elements should be included in the localizability check, you may create make a drop-down list including “image”, “text”, “music”, “icon” etc. to help the vendors clearly specify where an underlying issue is.

Kind regards,

Junjun Cao

1 thought on “#AskaLocalizer 4: Communicating with your linguists”

  1. Great advice Junjun! I definitely agree with your sentiments:
    “Compared to freeform feedback, linguists are less prone to miss details if they provide feedback in a more restricted format.”

    It boils down to, you get what you give. If you give them free reign and less instruction, you’ll get a variety of responses, some of which might be helpful. If you give them specific boxes to fill in with limits/suggestions on what they can input and clear instructions, it’ll be much easier for linguists to know exactly what they need to put in.

    The drop down is for sure one aspect I like and will continue using.

    To go even more specific, you could have another column denoting the “Type of localization issue” such as cultural/linguistic/i18n/etc…


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