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Wonderful World of Software $trings

Software strings are usually translated way ahead of any other documentation – which leaves the translator often in the dark as to the purpose of the string. Clients may or may not be able to help with detailed information. Usually they do not help.

Unfortunately, gender, number, and case have some bearing on the ending of adjectives, pronouns etc. So what to do with strings like these, totally isolated in a huge table of program strings, with no help whatsoever from the client?

Add New {0}” “Your {0} has been successfully expired.


4 Responses to “Wonderful World of Software $trings”

  1. Ivaylo says:


    I have the same problem when localizing some software in Bulgarian. Bulgarian language has a well-developed gender system and all adjectives, pronouns, etc. must in agreement. It’s nerve-breaking!

    Personally, I try to deduce the gender from the surrounding strings. Sometimes they are related. Sometimes they aren’t 🙁 In such cases, I try to make it impersonal or, whenever this is impossible, retain the masculine/neuter form.

    As a last recourse, I tell the client to give me a trial version of the localized product to review it for inconsistencies.

    I’m very interested to learn any other approaches to this problem.

    Ivaylo T. Ivanov
    English-Bulgarian translator

  2. Michael says:


    Some clients prepare strings really well and have a special column explaining how the string is going to be used. I love those clients! But most have no clue and just throw long lists of strings at the translator. Software developers seem to have a competition going: who can come up with the most complex concatenation schemes. Many times it is impossible to understand if, for example, “Capture” is a supposed to be a noun or a verb. Your idea of a quality check of the compiled localized software makes really a lot of sense. Does it happen? For me maybe once or twice a year. Have a look what the Enigmatic Mermaid had to say about the same subject.

  3. Greg Webber says:

    To do business globally, you must speak the right language. But accurate translations are just the beginning. Successfully selling your products internationally requires a full suite of translation, localization and strategic management services. I used They provide
    # High-quality translations
    # Software localization and internationalization
    # Website and branding globalization
    # International desktop publishing
    # Quality assurance and testing services
    # Turnkey project management
    # Content analysis and globalization consulting services
    They are a good site for software localization. If you are having that much trouble translating your site, then check them out.

  4. Michael says:

    It seems that you didn’t read my post or the preceding comments. I am not looking for anyone to localize “my site.” I pointed out how badly clients prepare their translators for the important task of localization and that those who engineer the original product spend not even a minute to consider the implications of localization down the road. This is a complaint I hear from many of my colleagues. Translating software strings is akin to purgatory. Concatenation breaks down with inflected languages. These complaints, by the way, are the same whether working for a client directly or through a translation company.

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