Moving Forward Globally with Localization

My LocLeaders Journey – Rachida Chekaf, Head of Translations at AXELOS and LocLeaders panelist

I was proud to be invited as a panellist to Welocalize’s LocLeaders Forum 2017 in Barcelona. The event took place at the iconic Camp Nou Stadium. It was split into two panel discussions in the morning and an interactive IdeaLab session in the afternoon.

The first panel discussion focused on machine translation (MT). The panel comprised representatives from Dell, Harley Davidson, Somo and Ciena. MT is highly topical due to advances in artificial intelligence (AI), which have brought changes to the worldwide localization landscape. MT is a significant opportunity and this is something I want to explore further. It will provide linguists with an unprecedented opportunity to use the post-editing process to improve the quality of the localized content, instead of constantly trying to push things out of the door as quickly as possible. The translator can now become more creative again and their objective will be to make the content sound good and natural. They will, however, need to become editors and creative copywriters and further develop their command of the language and culture.

I was a guest panelist for the second discussion, ‘Innovation and the Customer Journey.’ My co-panellists were from Vistaprint, PONS IP and Avenade. Like AXELOS, these companies have internal localization functions that I was looking forward to hearing about. We each gave a short presentation about who we are and how we approach innovation in our respective localization functions. This was followed by a moderated Q+A and open-floor session, which is when things became interesting. It turned out we all have similar challenges which we approach in different ways. I learned a great deal from the work patterns my counterparts described. This is important to AXELOS, as we strive to make our content as accessible as possible for our end-users. We know the value of challenging our existing processes in order to keep complacency at bay and to improve the service we offer to our end-users.

Meeting other experts on the panel was an enriching experience. Firstly, it was reassuring to know that the processes we have in place are, in essence, fit for purpose. Secondly, it was pleasing to know that the people representing these organizations wanted to hear how we at AXELOS approach innovation in localization. We have made huge progress, but as with all things, as soon as you start, you realize there is still a lot to improve on. It was nice to know we’re on the right track and that we’re not alone.

We emphasize the value of simplifying the English text in our publications. This means the concepts and techniques described in our best practice guidance can be understood by English speakers around the world, whether English is their first language or not. English has an advantage over many languages in that it is spoken by so many people around the globe, whether that is as a second, third or even fourth language. However, it is a notoriously tricky language to get it right when the goal is to pin down exact meaning, which is what is required when conveying specific technical information, such as the AXELOS Best Practice guidance. We spend a great amount of time honing the text in order to ensure our guidance is as accurate and unambiguous as possible. We want to ensure non-native speakers are tested on their understanding of our best practices, rather than their expertise in deciphering the English language.

Pinning down the meaning in the source text also serves the purpose of preparing it for the localization process. If our language partners are confident that the text says what it is expected to say, the translation process is smoother and we can deliver quality content in the optimum time.

I really enjoyed LocLeaders Forum Barcelona, both as an attendee and a guest panellist. I was happy to share my experience and also learn from fellow localization professionals. A very inspiring day!


Rachida Chekaf is Head of Translations at AXELOS