Pseudo Translation: The Unique Top 4 Benefits


To pseudo translate is to succeed in your localization efforts.

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Despite being a bit unknown in the business world, pseudo translation is a powerful tool. We argue that it should be the linchpin of your production and localization processes. The benefits are many, while the downsides are limited. So why not try it?

Pseudo Translation: The first step in your global expansion

As your company grows, there will come a time when you must consider expanding into new markets. But to do so, you can’t focus only on your product’s features, far from it. 

At times like these, you must consider the features of your market. You’ll need to answer questions like these: 

  • Is your product usable by your new target customers? 
  • Are your manuals translated into their language?
  • Is your website in their language?
  • Can your customer-facing staff talk adequately with your new customers? 

These questions all fall under the domain of localization (and LangOps). Although, in principle, solving them is a simple process. In practice, it can become a challenge.

Why? Because of the mismatch between production and localization. 

Thankfully, by applying this tool, you can bridge the gap between production and localization. In this article, we will equip you with all the necessary knowledge to pseudo translate successfully.

But first, let’s talk about the pseudo translation meaning.

What is pseudo translation?

Pseudo translation is the simulated translation of a text from its source language into a target language. As you can imagine, by “simulated,” we mean that it is not permanent. It allows you to quickly see how the translated text looks and fits in your application or website.
Hopefully, this pseudo translation definition helps you grasp the concept. 

What is the purpose of pseudo translation?

Pseudo-translation’s purpose is to get ahead of localization problems. When you pseudo translate, you can preview your interface’s look. This way, you can fix potential problems before you start translating. To be clear, it does not replace localization testing. But it reduces your reliance on it.
You can think of it as going to the dentist regularly. By doing so you can catch potential cavities early and avoid serious procedures.
But, if you wait until a severe toothache comes knocking, you’ll have to deal with a tremendous amount of pain. On top of the lost time and money for the more complex procedure, you’ll need.
Don’t worry, if you are still confused, the pseudo translation examples in the next section should help.

The 3 unique features of pseudo translation

  1. Text transformation
Instead of translating a string, a pseudo translation tool will keep the original English text while expanding its length to match the target language.
Let’s look at an example.
We will use one of the many pseudo translation online tools available to make a comparison. If you go to the website, you can select the length of the target language. Although assessing the length of different languages is difficult, we can use a basic estimate. In our example we used Russian as the target, which is roughly 20-30% longer than English.
A pseudo translation example, using Russian as the base with the English words 10 subscribers and Unsubscribe
A pseudo translation example
By expanding the text without translating it, you can still read the text while assessing its size. This way, pseudo translation reveals how a design would accommodate Russian.
  1. Hard code identification
Ever stepped on a Lego in the dark? Yep, it’s surprisingly painful. Much like finding out your App or game has hard-coded strings after you’ve launched.  But when you pseudo translate, you can get ahead of that problem and see all the tell-tale signs of hard-coded culprits. How? By prefixing, suffixing, or replacing all strings with localized characters.  If the original strings decide to make an uninvited appearance during your product’s runtime, it’s a clear indicator of hard-coded defects unwilling to conform to your localization efforts. 
  1. User Interface Adjustments
In some languages, the translated text might be a lot longer or shorter than the source text. This can lead to issues like overlapping text or elements getting cut off.   Look at the picture below. As you can see next to the lovely plumber, the text “See you next time” fits perfectly in the speech bubble. But when translated into Russian, the text doesn’t fit anymore.
Russian strings are 20% longer and do not fit the bubble, which is a problem easily prevented with pseudo translation

If the translated text does not fit the UI constraints, your users will see broken UI elements. To make matters worse, all these bugs can compound.

In a situation when you need to support 10 different languages and you find the same issue in each. You now have 10x more bugs with all the associated costs to fix them. It’s a dreadful affair.

Nowadays, there are many different tools you can use to assess your products and services. There are free and paid tools, for individuals and companies. And they typically offer many different features. In our opinion, a solid choice is the Memoq pseudo translation tool. Assuming you’re willing to pay.

When should you start worrying about pseudo translation?

Ideally, at the beginning of your product development. At worst, at the beginning of your localization process. 

In the perfect world, your localization efforts would start when you first conceptualize a product.

But in practice, product development and localization are independent processes. Usually, your team will have a complete and successful product before localization is even considered.

But, as we have already hammered, this approach has many flaws. 

Again just imagine how different your UI will look if it is in Arabic rather than English. 

The UI changes quite a bit when translated to Arabic. On the right you can see the Arabic version and on the left the English one. It's not just the language, but rather the entire UI that shifts.

Arab users look from right to left rather than left to right. It doesn’t just affect the text, it affects the ideal position of your CTA, the menu buttons, etc.

I hope that you now know why you should pseudo translate regularly.

But as convinced as you may be, the rest of your organization is a different story. It’s quite an understatement to say that it will be a big challenge to convince your dev teams of the value of pseudo translation.

In their minds, by attempting to add this process early, all you’ll achieve is slow down the dev process. And they are right!

But that minimal delay is an absolute time-saver down the line.

With that in mind, we would like to leave you with some proven pseudo translation benefits that can help you convince them.

If these are not enough and you deal with more tough questions, leave us a comment, and we’ll get back to you in 24h or less.

The 4 Benefits of Pseudo Translation

Its features aside, the implementation of pseudo translation brings some valuable benefits to your organization.

1. Reduced costs

It may seem obvious, but by pseudo translating often and early, you can avoid wasting time fixing costly problems.

Engineers are very expensive. Having them circle back to fix serious problems while you’ve paused your product’s launch is a double whammy of added costs.

2. Reduced time to market

As we’ve hinted at, by having a streamlined localization workflow, you can reach new markets that much faster. And as you well know, time to market is mightily important in this incredibly competitive marketplace.

3. Enhanced Quality Assurance

Pseudo translation, essentially, is a quality assurance test for global readiness. By building a polished product, you build a moat around it that forces your competitors to either level up, or compete for lower pricing.

4. Predicting Localization Costs

Your team can use pseudo translation to estimate your potential translation costs. It’s not perfect, but it gives an early indication of the volume of translatable content. You can then use it to build a budget draft.

In conclusion, pseudo translation holds immense value, acting as a springboard for any localization or translation project.

It ensures not just cost-effectiveness, but also product effectiveness, making sure your product communicates fluidly to audiences, no matter where they are in the world. Ignoring this crucial step can risk user experience, product quality, and overall global market performance.

Pseudo Translation

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