Jiménez-Crespo, Miguel A. (2013). Translation and Web Localisation.
New York-London: Routledge, pp. 244, £24.99. ISBN: 978-0-415-64318-4
Since the publication of Bert Esselink’s A Practical Guide to Localisation in 2000 and Heather Chandler’s The Game Localisation Handbook in 2005, there has been a distinct lack of subsequent volumes specifically devoted to the subject of localisation, in particular to web localisation (Esselink’s work was mainly centred around software localisation). Of course, several articles on various approaches to website translation and localisation have been published in the meantime, but they can be classified as disjointed attempts by different scholars (including Jiménez-Crespo himself) rather than cohesive, all-in-one volumes. For a long time, both academics and practitioners have felt the need for a dedicated reference book on website localisation, which could serve the same purpose as Esselink’s work or Chandler’s guide. Jiménez-Crespo’s latest book does just that: it provides an insight into ‘the other side’ of localisation, i.e. web localisation, by presenting the past, the present and the future of this fast-evolving discipline.
Chapter 1 introduces readers to definitions of localisation borne out of the industry and Translation Studies (TS) in recent years, and here the author also identifies web localisation as a genre in itself. Products, rather than texts, have been at the heart of the industry’s approach to localisation, with the aim of meeting users’ expectations in the target country and creating products which “have the ‘look and feel’ of locally made [ones]” (13). From a TS perspective, this can be understood as being “an extreme ‘domestication’ strategy” (13) which erases all elements of foreignness in the product. However, the process of adaption also involves handling non-textual elements and technological features, which make it distinct from translation per se. In TS terms, localisation can be defined as “a target-oriented translation type” (i.e. as a subtype of translation) with a communicative rather than an equivalence purpose. In these scenarios, the role of the end-user is key in defining how products are received.
The second chapter provides an overview of the localisation process and in particular of the GILT (Globalisation, Internationalisation, Localisation, Translation) cycle. Here the author provides a detailed list of the various steps involved in this process and helps us understand the challenges that professionals have to face when assigned a localisation project. External factors as well as cultural factors also need to be taken into account when localising products and their relevant websites, which is why Hofstede’s cultural dimensions theory and Singh and Pereira’s study on the cultural customisation of websites are embedded in this chapter as the main theoretical framework. A distinction is also made between traditional text readers and web users ─ the latter having a higher degree of interaction with the text – which is another aspect to consider when localising websites.
In Chapters 3 & 4 the traditional notion of text and genre as developed within TS and applied/text linguistics is revisited in light of hypertextuality, multimodality and the rising number of digital genres that populate the web. Texts in web localisation, from blogs to social networking sites, are identified as coherently developed, unitary interactive entities (51), albeit translation technology and segmentation (especially when using translation environment systems which tend to decontextualise content) seem to have disrupted traditional notions of source text: as a matter of fact, this has been replaced by a novel type of text, i.e. hypertexts or ‘non-sequential writing-text’ (Nelson in Jiménez-Crespo 55), which pose issues and challenges for translators at the level of cohesion, coherence and structure, with further implications for the communicative contexts in which the translation process occurs. There follows a detailed taxonomy of digital text genres in localisation and the relevant parameters which can be applied for their analysis. Readers may justifiably feel lost in the maze of supragenre categories and subgenres identified by the author however, the various text types are clearly linked to one another and displayed in user-friendly charts and tables. Models for the analysis of digital genres are also explored in this section for the reader’s benefit.
In Chapter 5, quality in web localisation is discussed. This is still an area which lacks clear evaluation criteria as it tries to meet a range of parameters which are in turn dictated, amongst others, by clients’ goals, end-users and accuracy (104). Current (industry) quality standards (ISO 9000, EN 15038) define quality from a procedural point of view rather than focusing on the final product. Quality is also discussed in relation to its status within traditional TS, and the author proposes an evaluation model which takes into account parameters such as adequacy, efficiency and effectiveness, thus reconciling both industry and TS approaches in this field. This is followed by an account of current empirical research in Localisation in Chapter 6, and the lack of a theoretical framework which characterises this field and which could instead help delineate the future of the discipline at both academic and industry level. It also supports the emergence of Localisation Studies (LS) as such, to complement TS.
The final part of his book focuses on the future of Localisation. Jiménez-Crespo looks at the challenges encountered by localisation professionals and academics in defining and promoting localisation competence, which can be described as the necessary in-depth knowledge and wide range of translation specialisation (186) required of practitioners and trainees. Furthermore it is also understood as the need for a collaborative effort borne out of multiple interactions and team work (173). He also surveys the future challenges for TS scholars and practitioners in dealing with the fast-paced technological developments in web localisation, such as collaborative translation vs. professionalisation, the use of machine translation and post-editing; he depicts a scenario with unpredictable outcomes, which will be dictated by future technological developments and the industry’s approach to their integration in current web localisation workflows.
Overall this volume is further testament to Jiménez-Crespo’s earlier high quality research work in this area, and it is undoubtedly a very useful resource and extremely welcome addition to both TS and the newly emerging LS, as well as the long-awaited missing link between Esselink and Chandler.
- Esselink B. (2000) A Practical Guide to Localisation. Amsterdam/Philadelphia, John Benjamins.
- Chandler, H. (2005) The Game Localisation Handbook. Massachusetts: Charles River Media
Pier Antonio Toto, London Metropolitan University