A Peek into the World of a Localization Project Manager

Localization is a hot topic, and not without reason. Localization, or adjusting and translating products and services (mostly websites, software and video games) to accommodate cultural differences around the world, is invaluable to a business wanting to go global.

It can be a complicated process, involving multiple departments and teams, and that is where the

Localization Project Manager comes in. So what does a Localization Project Manager actually do? In a nutshell, he or she runs the entire localization project, from start to end.

As an example, consider a company wishing to translate and localize their website. A project manager works closely with the technical/development team, evaluating the source content, identifying any localization issues as well as any discrepancies. The project manager then determines the best way to translate the material and organize the project activities by implementing a sound localization strategy. Part of this strategy involves cost management – developing and monitoring the cost and timing schedule of the project.

Once translation of the website begins, the project manager’s human resources skills come into play as he or she must liaise and manage all translation teams and proofreaders making sure linguistics, technology and quality are up to par. A localization project manager will also work closely with the marketing department, making sure the tone of the content and the information itself adhere to corporate identity guidelines.

All the while, a project manager continuously monitors the entire process, advising the teams on specific localization needs (such as target market and audience), and suggesting improvements to ensure the project is running smoothly and deadlines are met. Once translation is completed, the localization project manager together with the technical team, test and implement the final output.

Worst Translation Blunders in Business

We are all guilty of doubling up with laughter at mistranslated content; some are just downright hilarious. But as some businesses have the misfortune to find out, mistranslations don’t just cause them to lose face and customers, they can also prove to be deadly – literally.

As you are about to find out, the importance of doing your homework and accurately localizing and translating your content is priceless.

  1. In 2004, a medical team from a hospital in Epinal, France, decided they would bypass hiring a professional translation service by translating software that verified the correct dose for prostate cancer treatment on their own.Consequently a number of patients received massive overdoses of radiation and sadly four died.
  1. Parker pens ad, “it won’t leak in your pocket and embarrass you” was mistranslated for its Spanish-speaking Mexican customers into “it won’t leak in your pocket and make you pregnant.” Instead of using the correct translation for the word embarrass they chose “embarazar” which means to make pregnant. No doubt Parker pens were the ones left embarrassed!
  1. When American Airlines decided to lure potential Mexican first class passengers by promoting their campaign “Fly in leather,” they didn’t realise that the translation read “vuela en cuero” which in Spanish means “fly naked.”
  1. Swedish household appliances giant, Electrolux, found itself in a pickle when it promoted its vacuum cleaner to the US market. They assured American customers that “Nothing sucks like an Electrolux.”
  1. Ladies, fancy some manure on your hair? We didn’t think so, and neither did Germans when Clairol launched their Mist Stick curling iron. The company failed to realise that “Mist” in German means manure.
  1. People in China must have thought Pepsi had branched out into paranormal activities when its slogan promised to “bring your ancestors back from the grave.” Needless to say, Pepsi was attempting to translate “Come alive with the Pepsi generation.”
  1. Coors beer slogan, “Turn it loose” went terribly wrong when they translated into Spanish: “Suffer from diarrhoea.”
  1. We all know Ikea has strange names for its furniture, but it went a step too far when it tried to sell its “Fartfull” children’s mobile workbench in the US. It may mean “speedy” in Swedish, but it didn’t sit too well on American parents and the company had to make a speedy removal of the item from their collection.
  1. To promote the Pope’s visit to Spanish speakers, a t-shirt maker in Miami printed t-shirts with “I saw the Potato” (la Papa) instead of “I saw the Pope” (el Papa).
  1. The American Dairy Association’s hugely popular “Got Milk” campaign didn’t cause a buzz in Mexico. No wonder, when translated into Spanish it meant, “Are you lactating?”

Hear the Hands: Gloves Translate Sign Language into Speech

“Eloquence is the power to translate a truth into language perfectly intelligible to the person to whom you speak.” Ralph Waldo Emerson

Thanks to four young Ukrainian masterminds, those of us who don’t know sign language will now be able to understand and communicate with the speech and hearing impaired, which affect about 40 million people around the world.

Taking first place at this year’s Microsoft Imagine Cup competition in Sidney, the Ukrainian students presented their hi-tech prototype: gloves that translate sign language into speech.

How it works

Called Enable Talk, the prototype gloves have 15 built-in flex sensors, a micro-controller, and solar cells to extend battery life. The gloves register the wearer’s hand movements, which are transmitted to the micro-controller on the back of the glove. The controller then analyses and translates the motion into text. The text data is then sent via Bluetooth to a text-to-speech engine connected to a mobile device, which translates the text into speech.

With Enable Talk users will be able to program their own hand gestures and even modify the standard ones included in the system – a great feature considering sign language, like spoken language, can vary significantly around the world.

This device is not the first of its kind; there are several similar projects

under development, but they fall short

of the technology offered by

Enable Talk and are far more costly, at about US$1200. The Ukrainian team foresee a retail price of US$400 for a pair of gloves.

The Pros and Cons of Crowdsourcing Your Translations

In 2006, Jeff Howe came up with the term crowdsourcing – “the act of taking a job traditionally performed by a designated agent (usually an employee) and outsourcing it to an undefined, generally large group of people in the form of an open call.”

Although crowdsourcing has become a very popular word since then, the concept has actually been exercised for hundreds of years. For instance, in the 1800s, the Oxford English Dictionary was born thanks to thousands of contributors sending in definitions of words on slips of paper.

Today, Wikipedia makes use of wisdom of the crowds to provide us with mass amounts of information at our fingertips. Since 2008, Facebook has relied on its users to translate its website into multiple languages in a short period of time.

Using the wisdom of the crowd for translation can bring many perks to your business, but like most things, it doesn’t come without its drawbacks. Here are some to consider:


  • Strength in numbers: Crowdsourcing allows you to tap into a large pool of people and their knowledge. This can come in very handy when you are translating your content into an uncommon language, localizing your

    website, or detailed knowledge of your subject matter and field is required.

  • No cost: Allowing the crowd to help improve and correct errors on your translations is free.
  • Speed: Many people contributing to your translations can cover a lot more ground in less time than a single person or a small team.
  • Brand awareness: Engaging the crowd can help increase your brand awareness and loyalty.


  • Managing

    the process: If you have a large crowd of contributors, managing their input can be time consuming and complicated. We can help here! With dakwak’s crowdsourced platform, you can effortlessly manage, approve and publish your crowd’s suggestions.

  • Questionable quality: Without a good crowdsourcing process in place, translation errors and inconsistencies can arise. A large pool of people is

    going to generate input of differing quality, some great and some not so. Another potential problem that could lead to discrepancies is regional variations of a language.

  • Unreliable: Because the crowd is essentially giving you feedback for free, the

    information might not be very reliable or accurate.

Bilingualism: Fuel for the Brain

Throughout the ages language has been our tool to communicate ideas, share information and express ourselves. It is so deeply rooted in our cultural and social identities that today it is estimated there are over 5000 languages and dialects spoken around the world.

In our increasingly interconnected world, knowing more than one language is highly advantageous, opening the door to broader human interaction. For a business, language is a vital instrument to reach new markets and expand.

But did you know that learning a second language also fuels our brain? According to studies, understanding and regularly speaking another language boosts brain performance. This is particularly enhanced in bilingual people, who perform better than monolingual people in tasks involving prioritising, multi-tasking, memory and attention span.

Researchers believe that in a bilingual person, the brain has to continuously separate and switch between the two languages, concentrating

on one at a time. This function is in essence a form of brain training, keeping the mind “fit”, much like doing Sudoku and crossword puzzles.

Other studies have shown that the active minds of bilingual individuals can help delay the onset of dementia and Alzheimer’s disease by an average of four years.

Didn’t learn a second language as a child? Don’t worry, because scientific research suggests you can still boost your brain power by learning a second language as an adult.

If you want to learn a new language and give your brain a work out, check out these popular apps and online sites: