What Is Pseudo-Localization And Why You Should Do It

Introduction to pseudo-localization and its advantages/benefits

Translation, localization, internationalization… we are now familiar with these terms. Pseudo-localization is a lesser known-one, although it refers to an important part of the localization process.

Simply put, pseudo-localization is the process of verifying that your software, app or game is ready for localization. In other words, it’s about making sure you will be able to implement localized strings without any major trouble, and without having to edit your code.

The idea is to create a worst-case scenario locale with longer strings, special characters and so on. Here are the things you will want to test:

  • Text expansion: It is generally recommended to plan for at least 30% of extra space, more if possible, for localized languages. This is especially true for short strings (menu items, UI, etc.). Look for overflows with your pseudo-localized text
  • Different character sets: Ensure all the character sets are supported to avoid garbled-character issues
  • Hard-coded strings: Transforming your text for pseudo-localization will make those hard-coded strings stand out. Remember the number one rule of localization: Every localizable string should be editable without touching a line of code
  • Strings that shouldn’t be translated: If there are strings you DON’T want to be translated, pseudo-localization will help you isolate them more easily

The Benefits of Pseudo-Localization

The earlier you spot issues the better. If you only find them during multilingual testing, a lot of back-and-forth will be necessary to get everything fixed. This is also time you will be charged for, and this once per language.

By checking your pseudo-localized code before translation even starts, you should be able to avoid additional costs and delays down the road. It’s a small time investment, but it can make a significant difference one your project reaches the testing stage.

Make Use Of The Pseudo-Localization Tools Out There

To help you in the process, there are a number of tools available for you to try. They will process your strings and turn them into pseudo-localized ones. Some are free (CrowdIn’s online tool), others are paid (SDL Passolo), and they all offer different sets of features and supported formats. Thus, rather than recommending a particular solution, my advice would be to search and find one that matches your exact needs.


EDIT: Adolfo Gómez-Urda, fellow member of the IGDA LocSIG committee wrote this article for us. Besides the points raised above, he gives a general timeline of when pseudo-localization should be implemented, a few concrete figures to have in mind for text expansion, as well as a few useful examples of character sets necessary for other European languages.