Ep02 – Localization Evangelization
You’re listening to roar, voices for localization insiders, series speed bumps.
I am Summer high study translation and localization management. We are a student lead podcast designed to address speed bumps or challenges that exist in the localization industry. We speak with industry students, professionals, and educators to learn about these speed bumps and discuss some possible solutions. Today, we’re gonna introduce you, Julian
Hey, Julian, could you please tell us more about yourself and your current role at Internet?
Sure summer thank you for the introduction. It’s an absolute pleasure to be here on Roar. First, a little bit about myself. My name is Julian. I am the founder and CEO of internet Inc. Internet Inc, is a Silicon Valley startup with a hybrid business model. Part of it, is traditional translation and publishing. We have a group of translators with years of experience. they translate books from Chinese to English as a way to share Chinese culture with the outside world. In fact, we have been working on a book recently on how to combat the virus. It is expected to launch on Amazon in the second half of April. And the other half, it’s kind of high tech. It’s… it’s also closely related to the translation business. It is NLP natural language processing and AI writing and translation. Basically, it is a prediction model to generate full text based on input. Or you can imagine it be something like Gmail auto complete feature you see when you write Gmail, AI can do amazing things. Nowadays, there is this studio called botnick, who has wrote a script to analyze all the seven books of Harry Potter and detect the speech pattern. And eventually, it developed a semantic model to continue the story. So they created a three page chapter titled Harry Potter and the portrait of what looked like a large pile of ash. The name doesn’t make much sense, but the story is surprisingly readable. So here at internets Inc. We have a group of engineers and developers who are trying to do something, sort of similar and eventually productize on the idea. Before starting my own company, I was with Netflix for three years. From 2017 to 2018. I was at Solutions Program Manager with the globalization team. So all I do is to interact with our vendors and our in-house language managers to understand their need, collect their need and build into the pipeline, and work with engineers to develop an in house translation platform that brings everything into a streamlined workflow. Prior to that, I was the Chinese language manager from 2015 to 2017. I was managing a small team of freelance translators and vendor translators. I was responsible for everything into simplified Chinese, including Singapore and all the Overseas Chinese market. It was pretty fun. I was handling title localization synopses and then absolutely titles cover arts everything. It’s so much fun to you know Go to the office and see movie stars coming into the office. Just say hi to you. And then a little earlier I was with Amazon, I was the Kindle localization specialist. So I was leading a translation team. And then we did the initial translation work for Kindle. In 2013. We had a successful launch in China. So that’s a that’s a very long and windy introduction. But Yep, that’s how I started.
Wow, that’s so fascinating. Thank you so much for sharing your experience in the localization industry with us. And yeah, I have another question about your self. So what kind of languages you speak and how you can become Julian today and what’s your kind of education background or living background? Before you will have all those amazing experiences in the localization industry?
It’s very interesting because I I’m also a miis alumni. I graduated in 2012 with a degree in conference interpretation. So back then I would say the localization industry isn’t as developed and specialized as it is nowadays. So students from other majors can still have a chance to have a go in this localization world. I was lucky enough to get hired into a local position. I grew up in Guangdong, which is a bilingual area so I speak Mandarin and Cantonese. So in China, you know, Cantonese is considered just a dialect, but in the US, it’s actually a different language. So I think I can say I am trilingual, so English, Mandarin and Cantonese. It is a very interesting experience growing up in a bilingual area where you have to constantly switch language code and talk to different people in different languages. Um, so that’s what got me interested in localization. Back then I was planning to be a simultaneous interpreter because we know that Miss has the best psycho education here. But when I was approaching graduation, the focus has switched because everybody was trying to get a full time job to get their h1 B to stay in the US. And I was swayed into this job oriented thinking. So that’s that’s what, you know, changed my whole career path. Looking back, it was fun, so I wouldn’t regret it.
Yeah, that’s interesting. So, you know, the full time job is the only reason why you want to switch to localization industry, or there’s some other reasons that you wanted to switch your career.
Right. So that was the major motivation, but I was a big fan of translation. So I translated 30 books.
Wow, that’s amazing.
Yeah, so I still keep translation as a hobby. So even before we’re Working in the local industry, I was an avid translator, I translated The Diary of a Wimpy Kid series and then later revival by Stephen King. So it is good to find the perfect combination between my personal interest, passion and actual work. But as it is with all kinds of jobs, when you work something well do something as a job. And things started to become boring, mundane and you have to deal with politics and or other challenges.
But I would say it’s been a fun ride.
Mm hmm. Cool, cool. Thank you for sharing that. Now we want to ask you about speed bump or challenges you will have seen in the localization industry, really difficult situation you have experienced when you work for Netflix or Amazon or your current role at internest.
It is very interesting that you are bringing up this word speed bump. You know, in the workplace, we call those stupid colleagues a speed bump. I’m joking, of course. So there are all kinds of issues you may encounter in a company where localization is needed. For example, you need to find the right translator, you’re expecting a certain quality that you want them to hit. And of course, there’s the due date and deadline. For me, in my years of experience in the industry, I feel like there’s one thing that is particularly important, and that is also a speed bump I’ve encountered that is the mindset. So people treat product localization as an afterthought. They always spend long time designing the product finished every detail and then they come to you and say, Hey, we have everything ready. Could you get this done that is translated into this. It’s never that simple. Because to have a good quality translation or local localized product, We need time to really familiarize ourselves with the product to understand where the tax is coming from, and to have the time to do full testing, including functional and linguistic testing. Sometimes the conflicts between product and localization can be exacerbated towards the end of the product lifecycle. I mean, right before launch, for example, if the product team, it’s expecting a really short timeline, and then they send you something to translate it, it’s usually never just text. It’s usually a package and you have to have your engineer to loc engineer to to basically unpackage that and extract the translatable rows and send them to translators. And we call it and when they have the translated text back, they will ingest the text back into the package recorded CI like counter ingestion, something like that. So if you have a placeholder that is translated incorrectly, for instance, it can be a percentage sign, and then S that indicates this is a string. And then there is this percentage sign and then the dollar symbol to indicate something else. So this is the kind of placeholder wildcat thing. But if there is this symbol in the source text, but there is a missing of such symbol in the target, then this will break the whole package. And then if a user is launching an app, and then when they hit the button, and that button triggers that target string, this will crash the whole program. And usually those the product team will blame us for missing those small details. So this is where you can see a small mistake on localization can cause the whole app to fail, but you can’t just blame us because We didn’t give us enough time, we do need the time to do functional and linguistic tests. Right? So that’s why I think localization evangelization is extremely important. And that’s what I’ve been doing for years. So I always, when I’m leading a project, I always try to spend time to talk to the developers, the designers, make sure that we are on the same page. Meaning that we have to build a localization need and timeline into the whole process, and ensure that enough thought and resources are given to localization. It’s not something that can be rushed, if you have to find time to cut it somewhere else. But do make sure that we have enough time to do the localization properly. So I would advise any company who is trying to get localized into other countries and other markets, always have a loc team’s summoned. Have a loc engineer to look at the code base because it is not easy to just transform some US centric code base into something that is localizable. Internationalization takes time and preparation.
Thank you for sharing that with us. And I totally agree with you, to have a really good, you know, internationalized product, we not only need time, we also need resources. For example, we learned this from school, PPT program, which is people process and tool. Well, that’s so amazing that you almost cover my next question, which is what are some solutions to this speed bumps? And I think you kind of got your point.
Right localization, evangelization is very important. I will say this is the ultimate solution to a lot of problems. As always, people is more important than things. Look, communication is the best solution to anything. And if there’s anything I would like to add that would be, leave the work to the experts. I have seen companies, especially startups, blindly hire translators, without thinking about the direction where the company is going. You can’t just hire a couple of translators to do the job and then realize that there is not much work left to be done by them. You have to think about what languages you’re planning to do, and figure out the regional translation and localization process. Do you want to group countries and assign them to one translator, or one manager? Or do you want to hire individual translators for all the regions you’re going to cover? Of course, you have to do the planning before just you know, making a whimsical decision to just hire people. So yeah, always plan ahead and build localization into the whole process. I hope this has been helpful.
Yeah, that’s really helpful. And thank you, Julian, for coming and discussing your experience and speed bumps with us today.
Thank you so much. It’s been a pleasure.
Thank you. And that’s all the time they had for today. Thank you for listening to our episode of speed bumps, bye bye.
Thank you for listening to Roar. Voices from localization insiders, series, speed bumps, music courtesy of music junkies.com. We thank the translation and localization management students from the Middlebury Institute of International Studies for producing this episode.