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What You Need to Know About Linguistic Testing [Cliff Notes]

  
  
  
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Linguistic TestingWe hope those of you that are new to localization, or who are non-technical localization professionals, have been enjoying the blog series on testing.

Any kind of testing in localization is meant to catch any problem that will impact the adoption or effectiveness of your product in market. Although functional, localization and linguistic testing sometimes overlap, they are distinct testing services that require different resources. An accurate and precise understanding of what each entails is important. Two past blog posts discussed functional and localization testing. Now, let’s focus on linguistic testing.

Linguistic testing

The use of the word "linguistic" should bring up thoughts of typos, terminology inconsistencies, grammar errors and glaring chunks of untranslated text. Linguistic testing is a language quality assurance step. This language-specific testing must occur directly in the final product because software and website localization often takes places using tools and technologies "outside" of the actual running application.

When a linguistic tester takes a look at the built product, running exactly as local users in a given country will use it, they will see the problems that the out-of-context translation process may have caused.

Linguists performing this type of testing look for many things, such as:

  • Untranslated text
  • Incorrectly translated text
  • Grammar and punctuation issues
  • Typos
  • Inconsistencies in terminology throughout the UI (such as between menu items and dialog box titles) and between UI and help files
  • Language-specific characters that are broken
  • Inappropriate cultural references, images, symbols, colors and sounds
  • Improperly adjusted country-specifics (names, addresses, zip codes, phone numbers, etc.)
  • Mistakes in date, time and calendar formats
  • Errors in currency conversions and monetary symbols
  • Incorrect metric conversions, numeric formats, separators, negatives

This work is done by bilingual linguists who:

  • Are experienced translators
  • Do not need a technical testing background
  • Have expertise in the target locale, ideally located in-country

What comes after linguistic testing?

Once you have tested the functionality of your localized product and completed the language quality pass — and made the required fixes — you are ready to release your product to the market.

Why is linguistic testing important in localization?

Translation errors in a UI or web page can impact usability as much as functional errors. If the localized product is full of errors, you will have to update the product once you become aware of them, outlaying more time and money. They are almost always going to be a few linguistic issues in your product after localizing it, but fixing them could be easy and quick, versus painful and costly.

If you have discovered linguistic errors after localization, what impact did that have on your product release?

Look for the next part in this blog series that will explore how to access localized materials or software for any type of testing.

Thanks to my Solutions Architect colleague and testing expert Jiri Machala for reviewing and contributing to this blog post.

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