English to French IT Translator Blog

False Friends Or The Illusion That Translation Is Easy

The following post was originally shared by an English-Spanish translator colleague, but sadly not available anymore. Since I found the content very relevant to other language pairs as well, I am publishing it here as well.

Translating is easy if… we don’t take into account certain aspects that are essential to deliver a good quality translation. Those aspects are the ones competent translators learn how to take care of through academic training or through professional experience. Between English and Spanish, and of course between other language pairs too, translating is easy if we don’t pay attention to, for example, false friends or idioms, to how the gerund translates into the target language or how punctuation rules vary between the two language systems. It’s easy if we don’t care about language varieties: US Spanish, Latin American Spanish or European Spanish. So yes, the rendition of a text into another language can be pretty easy, yet of poor quality. And that being the case, there will be fewer, if not zero, chances that the translated text will fulfill the intended communicative effects.

Translating is easy if we see sensible in English and we write sensible in Spanish; if we see embarrassed translated as embarazada, or even worse, though not possible: embarazado?! In other words, translating is easy if we don’t pay close attention to the translation of false friends, also known as deceptive cognates, between English and Spanish. False friends constitute a common topic of study among languages sharing a common origin or that are in close contact, like English and Spanish in the U.S. And as translators or language professionals, it’s important to bear in mind that “the presence of false friends in proficient language users such as translators, language teachers, journalists, etc. is not to be underestimated because they are often difficult to identify” (Beltrán 30).

A Little Bit of Theory

First things first, definitions. The Macmillan Dictionary tells us that a false friend is “a word in a language that looks or sounds similar to a word in another language but means something different”. The Longman Dictionary, defines false friend as “a word in a foreign language that is similar to one in your own, so that you wrongly think they both mean the same thing”. According to Wikipedia, “false friends are pairs of words or phrases in two languages or dialects (or letters in two alphabets) that look or sound similar, but differ significantly in meaning. An example is the English embarrassed and the Spanish embarazada, which does not in fact mean ’embarrassed’ but rather ‘pregnant’.”

Some Examples

  1. actual (current) > actual, instead of real, verdadero
  2. aggressive (go-getter) > agresivo, instead of dinámico
  3. attend (to be present at) > atender, instead of asistir
  4. billion > billón, instead of mil millones
  5. college > colegio, instead of universidad, facultad
  6. embarrassed (feeling or showing embarrassment) > embarazada/o?! instead of  [Tener] vergüenza, [dar] pena, [sentir] avergonzado
  7. injury > injuria, instead of herida
  8. introduce (to introduce a person) > introducir, instead of presentar
  9. sensible (sensitive) > sensible, instead of sentaso, prudente, acertado, razonable
  10. sentence(a set of words that is complete in itself) > sentencia, when it should mean oración


Now that we have a clear idea of what false friends refer to, its important to realise that not all false friends are exactly the same. In his paper Towards a Typological Classification of False Friends, Rubén Tacón Beltrán distinguishes between six different types:

  1. True cognate: phonetic. E.g.: Eng. laboratory = Spa. laboratorio.
  2. True cognate: graphic. E.g.: Eng. horizon = Spa. horizonte
  3. Partial false friends: phonetic. E.g.: Eng. (to) attend (to be present = asistir; to listen carefully = prestar atención) ≠ Spaatender (to pay attention) || Eng. (to) attend to = Spa. ocuparse de; atender (a shop assistant).
  4. Total false friends: phonetic. E.g.: Eng. (to) assist = Spa. ayudar; asistir (help); ≠ Spa.  asistir (to attend).
  5. Partial false friends: graphic. E.g.: Eng. agenda = Spa. orden del día; agenda (programa); ≠ Spa. libreta (diary).
  6. Total false friends: graphic. E.g.: Eng. lecture = Spa. charla, conferencia, clase universitaria; ≠ Spa. lectura.

It’s also important to bear in mind that false friends vary depending on language variety (U.S. English and British English; U.S. or Latin American Spanish and European Spanish) and language pairs (English-Spanish; English-Portuguese; Portuguese-Spanish).

Inaccurate Translation of False Friends: Serious Consequences

If you’re a translator, you must have heard about the case of Willie Ramirez and you know the story of intoxicadothe 71-million-dollar word. When Mr. Ramirez (18 years old at that time) arrived to Florida hospital back in the 1980s, there were plenty of people who could speak both English and Spanish, but none of them were professional translators or interpreters. His family told the doctors that their boy was intoxicado and, unfortunately, the word was misinterpreted as ‘intoxicated’. Willie’s family thought that he had food poisoning caused by eating an undercooked hamburger; however, later on it was found that Mr. Ramirez had an intracerebral hemorrage.

Intoxicado in Spanish “refers to a state of poisoning, usually from ingesting something that is toxic to the system.” Intoxicated in English means ‘drunk’ (en estado de embriaguez), and thus Willie was diagnosed with an intentional drug overdose. As a result, in great part due to this misinterpretation, the young boy “was diagnosed incorrectly, leading to the wrong course of treatment and, eventually, to quadriplegia.” He received a malpractice settlement of $71 million and that’s why the word intoxicado is referred to as the 71-million word.

The mistranslation of a false friend can have serious consequences. Translators and interpreters are trained to be aware of the nuance of language and how it can affect cross-lingual communication, the average bilingual is usually not.

Game Translation Jam in Tokyo/Kyoto – 4/22

Although a little late, I wanted to share some information and encourage you to attend an interesting event a few respected colleagues are organizing this weekend: a game translation jam that will happen simultaneously in Tokyo and Kyoto this Sunday (4/22).

It’s essentially a day-long workshop kind of event where participants work together to translate a game from/to English/Japanese (source games will be offered for either language). Unlike the LocJAM, it’s not a competition and it is mostly meant to be enjoyed offline, but the audience is pretty much the same: enthusiastic gamers with different degrees of experience with game localization who join in to have some fun, meet colleagues and learn a thing or two along the way.

If you are nostalgic of LocJAM, are new to the game translation industry or just want to have fun with fellow game and language lovers, don’t hesitate and join the show! Although I won’t be able to join myself, this translation jam is organized by well-loved colleagues and you can expect an amazing day with lovely people.

Tokyo event page:


Kyoto event page:


Why I Won’t Work With Your Translation Agency

Every week I receive a couple of emails from agencies looking for new translators. Some contain interesting and personalized offers. Some are so grossly unprofessional that I just ignore them without reading through. And then, there are… the frustrating ones. The ones that come from agencies that seem to be decent, at least from what I know of them, but show red flags that tell me that no, sadly, that’s not going to work for me. Here is an example I received a few weeks ago:

I am contacting you as we are always on the lookout for the best translation professionals. Therefore I would be happy to invite you to complete the attached translation test (EN to FR) and send it back to me within 1 week (please let me know if you are not available now and need more time). Please read the instructions in the document carefully.

In order to include you in our database of collaborators we kindly ask you also to fill in the following form.

Please confirm safe receipt.

Thank you!

So, tell me, what is so wrong here?

To put it simple: everything about it is just too pushy. I’ve never contacted that agency. They reached out because they claim to be looking for the best translators. That’s nice of them to see me as a candidate for that title, but I haven’t asked for anything at this point, and definitely not to:

  • Take their translation test. I think the phrasing is what really annoyed me here. You don’t “invite” people to work for free. You don’t give them instructions and deadlines when they haven’t said they were willing to do it. I don’t do translation tests anymore. I see no reason why an established translator would have to. Good luck if you truly are to recruit the “best translation professionals” from there. By the way, the thing was a 500-word, 2-part test. At least try to keep the word count closer to 300 words…
  • Fill their form. OK, first, I hate filling forms. Second, why would I do that at this point? I haven’t even expressed interest yet. We haven’t discussed rates and I haven’t taken your test (nor will I but that’s not the point). So why would I waste my time filling a form that may well end up in the trash minutes after?

Asking so much from someone you haven’t had any interaction with at this point is just rude. Most of all, I hate the underlying assumptions: no, translators, especially established ones, can’t be expected to send you free translations and fill your forms at will. That sort of attitude is an immediate red flag for me. I know what most likely comes after: standard procedures, discount grids, project management platforms, forced used of such or such tool, database updates, more forms. Thanks, but no thanks.

You want to work with the best translators? Maybe start treating them as the professionals they are, and not as mere “resources” you can just pick up whenever you want.

Pre-TGS Game Localization Round Table Recap (IGDA LocSIG)

Here is a short recap of the round table the IGDA LocSIG held before TGS 2017. I will try to update this article with more details when time allows. I also apologize for the random order of topics, I wrote this as memories came back to me

The format

1 hour, 20+ participants, 5 broad subjects (market trends, localization technology, career, etc.) with a few specific topics each, 2 moderators to swiftly move the conversation from a question to another.

We had a fair mix of translators (aspiring, freelance, in-house), project managers/agency representatives and people from the end client side.

I admit I was worried 1 hour wouldn’t be enough to cover all topics, but it turned out to be just perfect. You would usually hear 2 or 3 points of view for each topic (often translator vs. agency), clear and concise. Everything flowed naturally and there was no idle time. More insights in 1 hour than you’d hear in 1 day at many conferences.


Can non-native speakers be trusted for translation?

Several participants noted they knew or had heard of at least 1 non-native English speaker who could a really good job on Japanese to English translations (I know such a guy myself! He now works for a big Japanese dev, still does great work). Interestingly, Japanese to English was the only language pair for which we could think of such people.

Is it OK to refuse translation projects? How to do it?
Refusing jobs is OK. A few project managers present agreed that if they were happy with a translator, they wouldn’t give up on them easily. Actually, one person went as far as to mention that translators who accept all types of projects without hesitation, even difficult ones or ones with a very tight deadline, could be “suspicious”. You shouldn’t try too hard.
Refusing a project is fine, but do give a reason so things can move on, or it will sound like you don’t care. Common sense, but apparently not so common for some of our colleagues.
My 2 cents as a translator: try to negotiate when you can (if the issue is related to the rate, deadline, etc.) – if that’s not enough, decline politely and explain why. If you’re not comfortable with the topic (may that be for lack of familiarity with the topic or personal beliefs/ethics), just say it, your honesty will be appreciated. If you’re simply too busy, try to give your PM an idea of how long you won’t be able to accept new assignments.
Project managers appreciate open and transparent relationships with their translators. Quality is all that matters.
Project management tools (Plunet)
Project managers seem to like Plunet a lot. I can’t say I’m too fond of its interface (I prefer talking to human beings, too), but it seems to be here to stay. Well, my friends, machines may take over the jobs of project managers before ours. OK, enough for cheeky remarks.
Getting jobs: ProZ, LinkedIn, networking&word of mouth?
Networking and referrals still seem to be the strongest way to build a clientele. Online, some noted that power is slowly shifting from ProZ to LinkedIn. Speaking personally, I still get strong leads from both. Build a strong profile and keep promoting yourself. On LinkedIn, try to be active in industry groups
(note: ProZ is currently developing and promoting a new feature, expert pools, to help game localizers get more visibility. It will be interesting to see how this turns out)
How to control quality when you don’t know a thing about the target language?
During localization: Choose proven partners, have an independent and equally trusted party review the translation
Post-release: gather as much feedback as you can in the target market:
– Check what the gamer community says
– Read reviews and look for mentions of localization quality
– Ask local industry experts, for example game journalists
Using text-to-speech during the proofreading stage
Nice tip shared at some point: listening to your own translation will help you catch things your eye may have missed, also helps noticing flow/pacing issues
Do I need a degree in translation to get started? What is the trend?
Most people of the industry have learned on the field. But now that our industry has matured, there are more and more universities offering audiovisual translation courses. The proportion of vocational translators is increasing and should continue to do so.
Creative vs technical profiles
Interesting comment from a former PM. Some people excel at creative translations, others at drier texts that require more accuracy. Agencies should have this in mind when building up teams for their projects.
On amateur translations…
Mixed feelings from agency people. The lack of frame and quality control is an issue to make them a reliable experience. However, if translated titles are relevant to a particular project (say you fan translate visual novels and such a project comes in), it can move your name at the top of the CV pile.
Conclusion: use your best judgment. Get specific if you feel your experience is relevant for a particular project, otherwise consider including it in more general terms (“I have translated xxx words of game content”, etc.)
Something that was said a few times by PMs: in the end, all that really matters is the quality of your work and your professionalism. Having experience and qualifications can help fast-forward things, but ultimately everybody gets a chance to show their skills because agencies are always trying to renew their translator pools
On post editing machine translation…
Machine translation may be improving, but it’s simply not there yet. Post-editing itself is a pain, and it introduces errors you wouldn’t make otherwise. If you’re going to reduce rates because MT was applied, you should expect quality to be affected proportionally.
Do you have to be a gamer to translate games?
Things like UI and menus can be very hard to translate if you don’t play games. For narration & dialogs, non-gamers can do a perfectly fine job. Once again, it’s all about selecting the right person for the job at hand.
Speaking for the French market: when game translation was a new discipline, companies would often turn to literary translators. Some of them have done wonders.

How to Get Game Localization Experience – Tips & Repository of Translation Packages

Getting started as a professional game translator is a bit of a catch-22 situation. Everybody wants you to be experienced before sending you projects, but you need to work on translation projects to gain experience.

One solution can be to build your own portfolio of sample translations & projects. To help you with this, I have a gathered a list of games you can freely translate right now and add to your samples. I have also put together a number of tips to help you find small translation projects and gain that all-too-important mileage in the localization industry.

I am planning to update this page regularly with new packages ready to be translated as well as links to other useful resources.

Translate Previous LocJAM Packages

LocJAM is (was?) an online contest for game translators. A short open source game in English is published on the official site and everyone has a couple of weeks to submit their translations.

The future of the contest is on standby at the moment, but you can still download and translate the games that were shared during previous editions.

If you translate from English

All translation packages for previous LocJAMs are available on the IGDA LocSIG’s GitHub repository.

LocJAM 1https://github.com/IGDA-LocSIG/Republia-Times

Read README.md for special instructions. The translatable file is in the bin/locale/ folder

The Republia Times is an indie game created by Lucas Pope, released in April 2012. In the game, the player takes the role of the editor of a newspaper torn between personal opposition to the government and threats to the lives of the editor’s wife and children if the editor doesn’t generate loyalty among the population. Character limits, humor and puns will give translators a good run for their money. An excellent game to show your craft.

LocJAM 2: https://github.com/IGDA-LocSIG/Locjam2/tree/master/LocJAM2

Read instructions in readme.pdf

Grandpa is an interactive story about Emi and her Grandfather trying to find his hat. The game ends on a twist. Translating it while keeping all of its subtleties and hints will allow you to show your attention to details and creative writing skills. Here is my post-mortem about it.

LocJAM 3: https://github.com/IGDA-LocSIG/locjam3

Simply translate the .docx and .xlsx files.

The Hotel of Madness is a board game openly inspired by The Shining. For this edition, we tested translators’ ability to write accurate, consistent and unambiguous rules – essential qualities for this type of game. Not a video game, but a good title to add diversity to your portfolio.

LocJAM 4: https://mega.nz/#F!12hEnJgS!KrCryf7EgZSrbswVnYpP7w

Instructions in the Readme file.

Ikinari Maou is a puzzle game dressed up as an old-school RPG. With several plot twists and tons of hints hidden between the lines, the game is an excellent challenge for translators and a pleasure to play.

If you translate from Japanese

Grandpa: bit.ly/LocJAM2JP

Try you hand at one of the winning Japanese entries of LocJAM 2 and translate it to the language of your choice.

Ikinari Maou: Windows, Mac

The original Japanese game’s package, used for LocJAM Japan.

Other Ways to Gain Experience

  • Offer free translation to indie devs: To gain experience, it can be a good idea to offer your help for free. Rather than helping big companies for peanuts, I suggest starting with indie developers who really need help and don’t have the finances to hire a professional translator.
  • Browse the Indie Game Localization group on Facebook. Devs regularly post help requests there. Just be careful with whom you offer your help to, as some are taking advantage of the community to get free translation for their many games. Find a game that seems nice, from a dev who genuinely seems to need help. Make sure the word count is reasonable and go ahead.
  • Translate mods: Translating mods is a great way to earn a little experience. Most mod devs will be happy to receive a little help, and they’re usually not creating mods for profit. They also typically have a localization budget of 0 (does currency matter here?), so you’re not stealing anyone’s job. CurseForge is an excellent place to start browsing. Help requests for mods/games also occasionally pop up on GitHub.
  • Contact indie devs directly: you can use social networks to find interested devs. I particularly recommend Facebook and LinkedIn groups for indie devs (there are too many of them to list!) where people like to share information about their upcoming games. Once again, see what you like (you want good games on your CV, don’t you?) and get in touch.
  • Offer to translate articles, fan sites, game guides, reviews, etc.: let your imagination do the work here, there’s so much to explore! Just make sure you have the permission of the original author.
  • What about crowdsourced and amateur translations? They surely give you relevant experience, but you may not want to write about them explicitly on your CV. Rightly or not, crowdsourced translations are not associated with quality and professionalism. As for amateur translations, they’re usually on the wrong side of legality.
    My advice: write about your general experience (“I’ve been translated for xx years“, “I have translated a total of xx words of game-related texts) and only mention titles you are allowed to. Have a small list of projects you’re proud of, with sample files if you are allowed to share them. It’s fine not to have a ton of titles to mention. I have translated well over a hundred games in my career, but I’m credited in a grand total of 4 of them. Give general information, and only informally tell about details if you are asked to.

WARNING: Whatever your translate for free, do ask to be properly credited and keep word counts reasonable – be willing to help, but don’t let people take advantage of you. Anything over 1,000 words is too much for a free translation, unless you are extremely passionate about the game in question AND the dev clearly doesn’t have the funds. When necessary, politely explain than you can only handle a few hundred words for free. An App Store description, menus? Why not. A whole set of dialogs? Probably too much.

20 Things Translators Know But Most People Don’t

What is something that seems obvious in your profession? You can probably come up with dozens of facts people outside of your field simply don’t seem to get. The language industry is no exception.

There are many preconceptions about translations and translators, as well as things known almost exclusively by people of the industry. I found this lovely list written by a colleague, Alice Tsymbarevich, and decided it to share it with my own twist. Enjoy!

1. Knowing a language is not the same as being able to professionally translate or interpret to/from it. A translation is a special set of skills that takes years to master and put together (and it’s not even a finite set of skills, new products, technologies and trends appear all the time).

2. Being able to translate FROM a language does not mean being able to translate TO it. In fact, it does not even mean being able to speak it. If a translator says that their translation pair is En-Fr, it means they translate from English into French only. Translation in both directions will be marked as En-Fr-En. And professional translators only produce works in languages they are native speakers – generally two at most (and we’re already talking about a small fraction of the translator community).

3. Some translators have specializations because different types of text require different approaches, different experience and different abilities. Some are specialized in SEO and can provide SEO translation and localization to bring more website traffic and get publicity for businesses. Some are better at terminology-filled legal texts. Some have a knack for translating poetry. Yet others are able to create concise and efficient instruction manuals, where a fiction-translator may easily get lost. And, of course, some translators are awesome jacks-of-all-trades! Specialized translators usually have a personal connection with their field. I received an IT degree, so I became an expert in software localization. Many medical translators have an educational background in the field, etc.

4. Translating fiction is actually more difficult than translating technical texts, not the other way around. Translating ads and catchy slogans is the worst. Creativity and cultural differences are quite an explosive cocktail. Such translations take great talent.

5. Spoken translation is called interpreting. An interpreter is not necessarily a good translator. A translator is not necessarily a good interpreter. The skill sets are completely different. A well-trained factory foreman with a decent fluency in a foreign language will give a much better tour of the premises to a foreign delegation than than a hired professional translator. Or than an non-specialized interpreter, for that matter.

6. Modern translation studies support the view that the “word-for-word translation” and word equivalency are myths. A translator’s worst nightmare is a client asking to “just translate a couple of words”. Broadly speaking, a translator turns one text with its context into another text with a corresponding context, not a string of words into a string of their dictionary counterparts. Even machine translation engines have given up this approach long ago.

7. Numbers may also require localization from one syntactic system into another. E.g. English 1,000, unless translated into French correctly as 1 000, will mean “one and zero thousandths”.

8. Translating/creating movie subtitles has specific rules: every language has a certain limit of how long a subtitle line is the best for the audience, how to choose words (long words may have worse readability for the viewer), how to adapt subtitles for people who are deaf/hard-of-hearing, etc. It’s a discipline in itself and requires yet another set of skills. It’s not something you just jump in as a translation generalist.

9. No, machine translation is not a valid replacement for an actual translator. Unless we are dealing with an extremely narrow and specialized context. No, Google Translate will not give you a decent translation of the ad for your product. Nor will your “nephew who’s spent a year studying abroad”. It may help you understand what your friend who lives abroad posted on Facebook. You may be able to have a general idea of what news say on foreign sites. But that’s about it.

10. Certain things, names, traditions, cultural norms etc. may require localization in certain types of texts.

11. A translator is, ultimately, a “complex computer that makes complex choices and considerations on many levels even for the simplest of sentences”. Not a dictionary. Not a language teacher. Not a “word-replacing dummy”.

12. There is professional translation software. No, it’s not like Google Translate or those fancy all-knowing sci-fi machines. What it does is find similar chunks in a standardized text and replaces them with what it has been taught by the translator, making the human’s work faster and less monotonous.

13. Humor is difficult to translate. Jokes and puns don’t necessarily have an equivalent in other languages. In fact, that’s what happens most of the time, so we need to get creative. Sometimes a translator even manages to produce a funnier version of the book than the original!

14. If translators face a bad original (poorly written, awkward phrasing, lack of elegance in the flow of text), they have two options: either to produce an equally ugly translation or to brush it up out of respect for the audience, the subject matter or the target language. In both cases, you never know to whom the audience will give the credit, be it good or bad – to the translator or the author.

15. It can be hard to form an opinion about a translated work of fiction because of the inevitable distortion and the translator’s enormous input into the piece. You don’t truly know a book unless you’ve read the original. It’s first of all true for poetry and the most creative works in general.

16. Unfortunately, translators are often invisible and unnoticeable. Hey, we do appreciate to be credited! It also puts positive pressure on us to deliver.

17. I’ve known translators to refuse to translate a text that offended their personal beliefs or could potentially offend someone else.

18. Everybody knows how a language becomes rusty and partly forgotten unless used. This holds true for the translators as well, so a long break from the profession may be costly for a translator. A professional translator is constantly learning – that’s the only way not to be left behind in the long run. New pages are constantly added to our internal dictionaries.

19. Still, a translator’s mind is always online. I often find myself wondering how I would have translated this or that when some ads or interesting phrases catch my attention. When I see translated materials, I sometimes try to guess what the original read like. And I’m ecstatic when it turns out I’m right!

20. I’m a freelance translator, but that doesn’t mean I work in my pajamas. I actually have fixed hours. I work at least as much as someone in-house and I do take the occasional holidays. I don’t spend my whole time home, nor having fun outside. I just have normal, balanced lifestyle.

How Translating Your Website Can Help Boost Your Search Traffic/SEO

If you have been involved in internet marketing for some time, then you’re probably already familiar with most of the SEO techniques that are effective in boosting your site’s ranking. With the advent of internet marketing blogs and abundance of detailed and free guides that walk you through the process of ranking a site, every enterprising and smart marketer knows the basics of link building, social signals, and on-page optimization. The democratization of what used to be concealed knowledge coupled with Google’s increasingly complex algorithms has left marketers desperate for an edge over their competitors.

One method that could double the search traffic to your site but is seldom discussed by SEO experts is translating your site into different languages to branch out and reach a global audience. Many marketers conflate the notion of the English speaking market being the biggest one with it being the only one, neglecting the fact that 75% of all internet searches are not in English. If you aren’t satisfied with the traffic that you’re getting or you feel that your SEO campaign has hit a wall, it is probably time to consider investing in international SEO.

The best practices for translating websites and getting high rankings

It is essential to know that getting your website in front of an international audience requires much more than just the literal translation of text and titles. Various cultural and socioeconomic factors will come into play to render the process a little bit less straightforward and about more than just linguistic differences. Understanding what your target audience is searching for and for what purpose, having a grasp of dialectal variations, and being able to conduct keyword research in a different language are essential components of what makes a successful international SEO campaign.

The importance of keyword research

More often than not, the value of a keyword is lost in translation due to not just linguistic contrast, but also cultural differences. The right approach is to simply conduct proper keyword research in the second language; the key here is finding the corresponding keyword, not the literal translation. Having a comprehensive understanding of terminology, local competition, and the various metrics that make a good keyword is essential.

Making use of Hreflang Tags

Hreflang tags tell Google what language is used in a specific page of your website. They’re either inserted within the <head> tags in the site HTML’s header or specified in the sitemap if multiple languages are being targeted. Once these tags are configured, your site will show up in the search engine results to people searching in that language.

They’re a critical component of website localization and their implementation will have a positive impact on your SEO campaign.

Choosing the right site structure

How you structure your site is one of the most critical steps of an international SEO campaign. The four main options that you have at your disposal are:

  1. Country-coded top-level domains
  2. Sub-domains on a single global top-level domain
  3. Sub-folders on a single global top-level domain
  4. URL parameters

There are pros and cons to each of these, understanding the implications of each one is a primordial step before opting for a particular structure.

It is generally advisable to avoid URL parameters, and while Country-coded top-level domains tend to be the most accurate when it comes to geotargeting, they require a bigger budget than what a smaller company would be willing to spend. Subfolders are the best option for a small business as they’re accurate enough when used with hreflang and localization while requiring fewer resources.

Who should you hire for professional website translation?

When looking to translate your website, you’ll have the option of hiring a freelancer or working with a large agency, with the ultimate goal of finding results that marry the fundamentals of SEO with proper and accurate translation.

On one hand, agencies may alleviate the project management burden when you’re dealing with extremely tight deadlines or a large number of languages.

On the other hand, freelancers are the best option if you’re looking for more direct communication, a long lasting working relationship, and a more hands on approach when it comes to SEO. Working with a professional translator enables you to directly give specific instructions that you want and train the translator to follow the optimization blueprint that yields the results that you want in the search engine pages.


Translating your website while adhering to proven and tested SEO basics can do wonders to your ranking in search engine result pages. Exploring this often-ignored facet can help double your search traffic and offers you an alternative approach that is cheaper and less saturated than the usual SEO methods and tactics.


Let’s Meet At The Pre-TGS IGDA Localization SIG Round Table!

On September 20th, the IGDA LocSIG will organize a video game localization round table in Shibuya. It will be followed by a networking party, which I’m sure will be as friendly as ever. Let’s meet if you’re around!

About the event

The IGDA Localization Special Interest Group (SIG) Roundtable is a gathering event for all people involved in game localization, from developers to publishers, professional translators (freelance and in-house people alike) and linguists.

From translation trends to audio, from localization technology to testing, it aims to cover a wide range of topics with a brisk pace and a friendly atmosphere.

At the end of the event, everyone is invited to attend the Tokyo Indies show on the same floor or to have dinner together in lovely Shibuya.

The plan for now is to have 3 talks by local localization experts. A survey will be run on our group to determine the exact topics.

You will find details and registration page here: https://www.facebook.com/events/496037934082751/

Place and time

The event will take place at:

道玄坂1-22-7 道玄坂ピア1F, Shibuya, Tokyo 150-0043

From 6 to 7pm. Hope to see you there!

Game Localization Link Roundup – May-June 2017

A new era starts at the IGDA LocSIG with a new committee. I am delighted to be one of its members this time again, and I will be true to my statement by working toward new events for game localization experts and hopefuls alike.

It also means I will be handling the newsletter for a bit longer, so this series of link roundups should stay alive at least for that time! Here is my selection for the months of May and June.

Falcom President Comments on Licensing Ys VIII to NISA and How Localization is Handled

Undertale’s Japanese Localization Is Causing A Fan Frenzy – Another localization controversy, this time around the pronoun used by a character in Undertale’s official Japanese version. A little over the top, dare I say

Text Adventures: The Story of Visual Novels in America – Interesting insights from some of the companies taking the increasingly popular visual novels outside Japan

Persona 5 Gets A Small Change To Avoid Further Controversy In South Korea

Music and Localization: Fine-Tuning the Universal Language

Once Again, Overwatch Isn’t Very Good At Picking Kanji Characters – A little surprising to see another kanji issue with Overwatch, as they got laughed at pretty hard the previous time around

Japenglish / Wasei-Eigo: A List Of Japanese False Friends

The original list was compiled by keiichiro, a Japanese national who’s spent a couple of years in the United States and noted a growing number of Japenglish (or Wasei-eigo) terms. Since the original website is down, I have recreated the list here and will keep updating it.

-Janglish (KATAKANA)--Janglish (Alphabet)-– English in the US –
When used for measurement, “hip” is used as hip in Japan. But hip is often used to describe buttocks there. In the US hip may be used to describe buttoks euphemistically. But mainly hip is used to mean the sides of the body below thw waist.
パンティストッキングpanty stockingpanty hose
I personally prefer “stocking” to “hose.” In U.K. “tights” is used.
スイミングパンツswimming pantsswimming trunks/shorts/suit
Bathing …. is also common. While I wear a suit at work, I don’t understand why I put on a “suit” to swim, too.
トレーナーtrainersweat shirts
ワイシャツwhite shirtdress shirt
Not that muffler cannot be used. But scarf is much more popular here.
カフスボタンcuffs buttoncuff link
モヒカンカットMohican cutMohawk
Why this difference? In U.K. “mohican” is used.
キーホルダーkey holderkey chain
グラマーglamour(ous)stacked/be really built
ジージャンG-janjean jacket
スタ(ジアム)ジャン(パー)stadium jumperjacket with team’s logo
マニキュアmanicurenail polish
オールバックall backswept back hair
フリーサイズfree-sizeone size fits all
サファリスタイルsafari stylecamouflage clothes
ハイソックスhigh socksknee-high socks
One-piece is used for women’s swimsuits in English.
In English whether your ears are pierce or not is not an issue. In Japan when your ears are pierced, earings are called “pierce”.
The Japanese word for pants is “ZUBON”, which is from Portuguese.
ペア・ルックpair-looksame outfit
ストレート・パーマstraight permrelaxer ?
エステティックサロンesthetic salona beauty salon offering esthetic services
At home?
In the kitchen
コーヒーミルcoffee millcoffee grinder
I don’t think “mill” is wrong. But “grinder” sounds more common.
フライパンfry panpan
オーブントースターoven toastertoaster oven
Range is used but I hear “stove” more frequently.
Electric goods
テレビゲームtelevi gamevideo game
ファミリーコンピュータFamily computerNintendo
スーパーファミコンSuper Fami-comSuper Nintendo
Nintendo named them diferently.
ビデオカメラvideo cameravideo camcorder
ビデオデッキvideo deckvideo cassette recorder
ラジオカセットradio cassetteportable stereo /boom box
Then what if the power is weak and the sound is monoral as the one I bought when I was in junior high?
プッシュホンpush phonetouch tone phone
シャープsharp signpound sign/number sign
This is about the name of the key. I wonder why people don’t call it “sharp” as in music. I’ve heard it is called “square” or “hash” in U.K.
フリーダイアルfree dialtoll free number
Freephone is used in U.K.
ポケットベルpocket bellpager / beeper
The word “pocket bell” is made by NTT, Japanese phone giant.
ナンバーディスプレーnumber displaycaller ID
Another creation by NTT, Japanese phone company.
アフターサービスafter-serviceservice after the sales
アフターケアafter-careservice after the sales
FDFDfloppy disk
This abbreviation is not so popular.
Home improvement/tools
This is most famous and infamous Janglish in Japan.
ワンルームマンションone-room mansionstudio apartment
フローリングflooringwooden floor
I guess it was from “concentric outlet.”
プラスドライバーplus(+) driverphilips head screwdriver
マイナスドライバーminus(-) driverregular/flathead screwdriver
Since I think using “+/-” is easy to understand, I wonder why American don’t say this way.
マイホームmy-homeowned house
ユニットバスunit bathprefabricated bath
Which contains a bathtub and a space where you wash yourself.
Reminder:You must not use soap in the bathtub in Japan.
メロドラマmelodramasoap opera
Melodrama in Japan is used to describe soap operas while almost all of “soap operas” seem to be melodramas.
ワイドショウwide-showtalk show / morning show
ベビーカーbaby carstroller
バギーbuggyumbrella stroller
Baby buggy is used for a bigger one.
ベビーベッドbaby bedbaby crib
When my friend asked room service to bring baby crib, he somehow received a baby cream. He was disappointed by his English skill.
ヘルスメーターhealth-meter(bathroom) scales
テーブルセンターtable centercenterpiece
at School and Office
OL(オフィスレディー)OL/office ladywomen working in white-collar work place mainly doing clerical work.
In US I sometimes see the existance of the word “OL” refferd as a symbol how unequally women in Japan are treated.
Hotchkiss is a name of the inventor.
ブラインドタッチblind touchtouch typing
ダイアルインdial-indirect number
セロハンテープcellophane tapeScotch tape
マジックテープmagic tapeVelcro
シャープペンシルsharp pencilmechanical pencil
ボールペンball penball point pen
When you have a exam at school. Not that you did.
リンチlynchbullying/abuse/beating somebody up
In UK “Seal” is also used.
-Janglish (KATAKANA)--Janglish (Alphabet)-– English in the US –
セーフティードライブsafety drivedriving safely
フロントガラスfront glasswindshield
I’ve heard “windscreen” is also used in UK.
バックミラーback mirrorrearview mirror
ハンドルhandlesteering wheel
クラクションKlaxoncar horn
ウィンカーwinkerblinker/turn signal
Indicator is used in U.K.
チャイルドシートchild seatcar seat
Bonnet in U.K. but hood in USA.
ガソリンスタンドgasoline standgas station
Petrol station is used in U.K.
Porsche is Porche. Ford is Ford. But Bentz is different. I’ve heard that called same in Germany.
I guess Chevrolet sounded Shi-vo-rei for Japanese when first imported.
ハイウェーhighwayexpress way / free way
Many of “highway” in U.S. have intersections and traffic lights. “Motorway” is used in U.K.
ナンバープレートnumber platelicense plate
Number plate is OK in U.K.
タンクローリーtank lorrytanker
パンクpunc(ture)flat tire
RVRVsports utility vehicle/SUV
Somehow, cars such as Jeep Cherokee and Ford Explorer are called RVs, not SUVs, in Japan.
In U.S. RV is also called a camper, which is much bigger than “micro bus” in Japan, and has a bed, a stove, and a shower inside.
キャンピングカーcamping cartrailer house? mobile home/RV?
パト(ロール)カーpatrol carsquad car/police car
patroll car is used but “squad car” seems more popular.
バンvan(station) wagon
Somehow these two are mixed in Japan. A wagon is as tall as a sedan and usually uses a same model name, such as “Camry wagon.” But a full-size van is much taller.
マイカーmy-carowned car
サイドブレーキside-brakeparking brake
オープンカーopen carconvertible
ペーパードライバーpaper driverperson with a driving licence who seldom drive
メット・インmetto-ina style of scooter which has a compartment under the seat to hold the crash helmet
スリーA3A(three A)triple A
ホームインhome-income home / is scored
ナイターnighternight game
フォアボールfour ballwalk
デッドボールdead ballhit by a pitch
After a batter is hit by a pitch, the ball is dead. Then runners can not move because it is a bead ball now.
タッチアップtouch-uptag up
タッチアウトtouch-outtag out
バックネットback netbackstop
フルベースfull basebases loaded
ランニングホームランrunning home runinside-the-park home run
テキサスヒットTexas hitTexas leaguer
スリーベース・ヒットthree-base hittriple
ツーベース・ヒットtwo-base hitdouble
エンタイトルド・ツーベース・ヒットentitled two-base hitground rule double
ハーラー・ダービーhurler derbythe competition on the number of winning games among professional baseball pitchers(?)
トップ・バッターtop batterleadoff
キャンプ・インcamp-instart/report to spring training
ショート、ミドル、ロングshort/long/middle holepar 3/5/4 hole
ニアピンnear pinclosest to pin
ドラコンdriving contestlongest drive
パー・オンpar-onhit the green in regulation
フック・ラインhook-lineright-to-left breaking putt
ブービーboobythe second from the last
ブービーメーカーbooby makerbooby
Pro wrestling
Thanks to Nemoto-san who gave me those words. Actually I have no idea of these words.
クイックターンquick turn (swimming)flip turn
How to turn at the end of the swimming pool
フライング・スタートflying (start)false start
ヨットyachtsail boat
Yacht in Japan is usually used to discribes a small one masted sail boat while “yacht” in English is for a small ship and not limited to a ship with sails.
マラソンmarathonjogging/long distance race
Please use “marathon” only when you run 42.195 km. Personally I do’t like them to call a 5k race as “xx city marathon” in Japan. You know it is much harder to finish 42km.
シーズンオフseason offoff-season
bobsleigh is English. But I’ve never heard it in TV during the Nagano Olympics. Every time “bobsled” was used.
In Olympic in Nagano most of speed skaters used this new type of skate shoes. “Klap” is a Dutch word for “slap” in English. (“Klapschaats” in Dutch) I don’t understand why Japanese use “slap”, which is not Japanese of cource, while “klap” is used in English.
バトンタッチbaton touchbaton pass
Your goal in a race is not the goal but the finish line.
ラストスパートlast-spurtlast hard drive/
dash to the finish line ?
バトンガールbaton girlbaton twirler
Eating and Drinking
コカコーラ ライトCoca-Cola Lite——
Coca-Cola Lite is a product of Coca-Cola(Japan) and is not sold in USA. It has 12kcal/100ml, while Diet Coke has no calories. (Note:Summer in 99, Diet Coke is being introduced in Japan)
フライドポテトfried potatoFrench fries
ポテトフライpotato fryFrench fries
Frites in France
This is about a style of restaurants.
Because Japanese people pronounce it as “biking”, the confusion is sometimes big.
Hotcake is used but “pancake” seems to be more popular.
プリンpuddingcaramel cream/caramel custared
Pudding in Japan is a kind of pudding. But because there are various puddings here, it is hard to order in restaurants unless you know the exact name.
アメリカンコーヒーAmerican coffeeweak coffee
Coffee served in the US is usually as weak as “American coffee” in Japan. I know a restaurant where they give us a choice of “French” or “American”. French one is strong as regular one in Japan.
At Starbucks Coffee they sell “cafe Americano, ” though it is made of espresso and hot water.
ソフトクリームsoft creamsoft serve ice cream
シュークリームchou (a la) cremecream puff
ハンバーグステーキhamburg steakchopped steak
アイスティーice teaiced tea
ミンチボールmince ballmeatball
モーニングサービスmorning serviceboiled egg, coffee and toast served as a breakfast combo menu
Let me assure you that there is nothing relevant to any religions.
カウンターcounterbar (in a restaurant)
-Janglish (KATAKANA)--Janglish (Alphabet)-– English in the US –
Pierrot is not wrong but much less popular than “clown.”
ジェットコースターjet coasterroller coaster
レントゲンRoentgen (picture)X rays (picture)
Roentgen is the physicist who discovered X rays.
モーニングコールmorning callwake-up call
サマータイムsummer timedaylight saving time
Summer time is used in U.K. In Australia “daylight saving time.”
We are talking about a name of the city in the U.S.
テレホンボックスtelephone boxtelephone booth
Even if you ask where the “toilet” is, you will be directed to the right place.
W.C.W.C.restroom, men’s/ladies’ room
Though I’m not sure if “water closet” is used as English word, I’ve never seen “W.C.” sign in the U.S.
ゲームセンターgame centervideo arcade
バックナンバーback numberback issues (of magazines)
DMDMdirect mail
This abbreviation is not commonly used.
ディープキスdeep kissFrench kiss
Then what in French?
スキンシップskinshipclose relationship/quality time
Because “Skinship” sounds for American to mean physical and sexual touching, it may cause a big misunderstanding. It may be one of the most harmful words.
ガードマンguardmansecurity guard
ゼロゼロセブン(007)zero zero sevendouble oh seven
Naive used in Japanese has a positive feeling while it has negative one in English.
テレビタレントTV talentTV personality
This abbreviation is not used.
マンツーマンman-to-manone-on-one (one-to-one)
Man-to-man defense is used. But when you teach something to a person, you teach him “one-on-one,” not “man-to-man.”
フェミニストfeministchivalrous/kind to women
If I remember correctly,in 70’s the word “feminist” meant something about women’s rights even in Japan. Somehow the meaning changed.
シルバーシートsilver-seatpriority seating
コストダウンcost-downcost reduction
キオスクkiosknews/food stand in JR stations
ミスコンテストmiss-contestbeauty pagent
イメージ・アップimage-upimprove one’s image
ボディ・チェックbody checkbody search /frisk
バージン・ロードvirgin roadaisle where a bride wallk
This is about a path where a bride walk with her father. Her virginity is not an issue, of course.
マスコミmass komi (communication)mass media
トランプtrumpplaying cards
ベッドタウンbed towncommuter/bedroom town
ドクターストップdoctor-stopthe doctor’s order to stop the fight
ハイ/オールド ミスhigh/old missspinster
ラブホテルlove hotelhotel for couples for short stays (mainly for a couple of hours)
マイペースmy-pacedoing things at one’s own pace
ワンパターンone-patternone-ideaed/repeating the same pattern
シンボルマークsymbol marksymbol
テーブルスピーチtable speachspeaches at parties
タイトルバックtitle backcredits
This is about the last part of movies where they show many names after most of audiences are out of the theater.
アルバイターarbeiterpeople who do part-time job
Part-time job is called “ARUBAITO” which is from German word “arbeit.”
フリーターfree-ter??people who do part-time job only/freelance worker
Not that the Japanese think Yankees are punks, of cource.
ハネムーン・ベビーhoneymoon babybaby conceived during a honeymoon
ゲームセンターgame centervideo game arcade
ライブステージlive stageperformance
ライブハウスlive housebar with live music/performance
Such as the one shown at the end of “A Bugs Life”.
キッチン・ペーパーkitchen paperpaper towel
The word energisch is a German word. It can’t be used in English.
ミラー・ボールmirror balldisco ball
ツー・ショットtwo-shotthe situation where you are only with your boy/girl friend
ブレイク(する)breakbecome a hit
FCFCfranchise chain