THINKING IN ENGLISH, SPEAKING LOCALIZED

 

GENERIC PROBLEMS IN TURKISH LOCALIZATION

RELATED TO THE SOURCE TEXT STRUCTURE

by Koral Özgül

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CONTENTS

PRELIMINARY NOTE

ABOUT DISTINCTIVE CHARACTERISTICS OF TURKISH

Abacus

versus Clay

Definition of agglutination (Britannica.com)

THE STRUCTURE, GRAMMAR AND SYNTAX

OR WAY OF THINKING AND CONCEIVING

GLOSSARY VERSUS CONTEXT

ONE COMMON PROBLEM IN EXEMPLARY NATURE

CONFUSED MEMORIES

ILLUSTRATIVE EXAMPLE

FURTHER CASE STUDIES FOR THE INQUISITIVE

VARIABLES

CONCLUSION

 


PRELIMINARY NOTE

In spite of the fact that software and services often target a multilingual customer profile in today's global market, the approach to the "product" and related documentation often remains monolingual by design. However, it's doubtful whether just a final adaptation attempt per merely localizing the textual material would be able to render the product handy (in sense of "ergonomics") for the non-English speaker user. The comprehensibility of a structure involving a language probably begins with the very architecture of it.

This approach may seem a bit to the extreme, but at least, it's sure that a certain degree of versatility would enable to aim a product that can be (almost) as utilizable as the "original".

If language is conceived as being beyond culture and mentality like mathematics or pure technique, the resulting product would most probably suffer from remaining "foreign" to the targeted end-users, if not with more serious bugs that cripple the functionality of the product (which is not rarely the case either).

 

ABOUT DISTINCTIVE CHARACTERISTICS OF TURKISH

Abacus

European languages are word-based. That is, the sentences are built accumulatively, adding words (including prepositions) one by one, which have independent meanings each for their own right. The words don't undergo any significant changes or flexions when taking part in phrases or sentences. Words have quite an autonomy in Indo-European language sphere.

I'd compare this analogically to the beads on an abacus.

versus Clay

However, Turkish is a so called "inflectional language". That is, every word is subject to certain complex changes when participating in a phrase or sentence. Inflectional endings are appended to the base words, according to the words they follow and precede, according to their addressing/addressees, according to their assignment and function in the sentence. Other endings are appended to the endings and so on. Thus, the whole phrase/sentence is an organic entity. A single word hardly can remain untouched and unmodified within the whole*.

Words and other means of language are treated like another pinch of clay, added to the bigger lump to form a statuette: The sentence (as a supple but inseparable whole).

The inflectional endings also obey a series of vocal conformity rules. Thus, the very same meaning must be expressed with different phonemes, according to the word they are appended to.

 

[*] You can tell a whole sentence with one single word in Turkish. A folk expression exhibits this: "Çekoslovakyalılaştıramadıklarımızdanmısınız?"... approximately meaning "Do you belong to one of those (people) that we haven't been able to czechoslovakianized (yet)?" (Actually slightly pushed with a small punctuation error)

 

Definition from Britannica.com

agglutination: a grammatical process in which words are composed of a sequence of morphemes (word elements), each of which represents not more than a single grammatical category. This term is traditionally employed in the typological classification of languages. Turkish, Finnish, and Japanese are among the languages that form words by agglutination.

 

THE STRUCTURE, GRAMMAR AND SYNTAX

OR WAY OF THINKING AND CONCEIVING

These two totally different approaches in these cultural/lingual spheres have both their pros and cons, have also probable consequences and effects in socio-cultural behavior of folks. The important thing for people dealing with multilingual products is being aware of these differences and keeping this fact in mind when designing and producing. Or the product will maybe only look like multilingual at the first sight... until you try to read and follow it.

Would you buy and use such a product? Would you maintain your productivity if you did?

 

GLOSSARY VERSUS CONTEXT

I heard many translators stating that context is everything in translation. This may sound exaggerated. But at least, context is more than just an auxiliary reference. It virtually determines the resulting translation. Thus, a glossary of terms alone is often not much of use. In many cases, it may become a hindrance rather than an aid. Otherwise, machine translation would be far easily developed to perfection long ago, and translators would become superfluous. But this also means that a translator desperately depends on context. (Or he/she simply will make (many and serious) mistakes.)

 

ONE COMMON PROBLEM IN EXEMPLARY NATURE

Due to the radically different syntax rules of Turkish, split segments present serious problems in localization for the Turkish language.

The text in source material is often structured with a too much "English language oriented" attitude, so to say. This is understandable, yet presents serious localization problems at times, given the source files are not prepared and structured considering that they ARE supposed to be localized into OTHER languages indeed.

 

CONFUSED MEMORIES

Moreover, this issue causes the Trados/SDLX memory units to become virtually impractical for further matches, even if in case of seemingly 100% matches. This is due to the radical syntax differences between the source and target languages.

 

ILLUSTRATIVE EXAMPLE

Let me represent the problem with an imaginary example to make it more conceivable for the Indo-European lingual sphere:

 

English

Turkish

Segment 1

This is a sample multisegmented sentence

Bu, İngilizceyle Türkçe arasındaki,

Segment 2 that is used to depict syntactical differences between English and Turkish,

Trados Workbench ortamında bir dizi soruna yol açan sentaks farklarını sergilemekte kullanılan

Segment 3

which cause a series of problems in the Trados Workbench environment.

 

çok segmentli örnek bir cümledir.

As you see, the subparts of the sentence in individual segments form in no way a correct match (in neither of the segments). Consequently, these 3 segments are practically useless for further memory matches.

 

FURTHER CASE STUDIES FOR THE INQUISITIVE

Case 1

 

Source

Target

Segment 1

You can search for these description items in <<start product name tag...>>

Belirli belgeleri bulmak için bu açıklama öğelerini <<start product name tag...>>

Segment 2

<<... end product name tag>> to find particular documents.

<<... end product name tag...>>'ta arayabilirsiniz.

 

Case 2

 

Source

Target

Segment 1

These settings determine how the imported 3D model is presented in <<start product name tag...>>

Bu ayarlar, dışarıdan alınan 3D modelin <<start product name tag...>>

Segment 2

<<... end product name tag>>.

<<... end product name tag>>'ta nasıl görüntüleneceğini belirler.

 

Case 3

 

Source

Target

Segment 1

You cannot create layers in <<start product name tag...>>

<<start product name tag...>>

Segment 2

<<... end product name tag>>; however, you can examine windows and show or hide the content associated with each window using the Window menu.

<<... end product name tag>>'ta katmanlar oluşturamazsınız; ancak, Pencere menüsünü kullanarak, pencereleri inceleyebilir ve her pencereyle ilişkilendirilmiş olan içeriği gösterebilir veya gizleyebilirsiniz.

 

VARIABLES AND PLACEHOLDERS

Case 4

 

1. segment

2. segment

Segment 1

You can create

<<product name tag...>> uygulamasında

Segment 2

new project files yeni proje dosyaları

Segment 3

in <<product name tag...>>

oluşturabilirsiniz

 

Note: "in" had to be rendered as "uygulamasında", which actually means "in the application", because the product name here was unknown or variable. This is because you cannot use the "in" (at, by, with, of, from etc.) in Turkish without knowing the exact sound of the word it addresses, since instead of prepositions, inflectional endings, which obey certain vowel and consonant congruency rules, cause the same ending to appear in several different forms according to the last vowel and consonant of the word it is appended.

For example: Arabada for araba, selede for sele, sepette for sepet, katta for kat etc. (meaning "in [the] ...").

 

CONCLUSION

No conclusion or no direct application other than your own consideration. Walking is done one step at a time, and thinking is most essential step needed in intellectual products.

 

  

 

Koral Özgül, Istanbul, June 2007

 




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