Linguistic testing

The Value of Linguistic Testing for International Expansion

11 minutes

Language is a tool that can make a brand go far or fall short; it can make it cross national borders and engage global audiences or fail to achieve its campaigns’ forecast ROI. Linguistic testing is one of the steps that ensures return on investment in software, app, multimedia content, and website localization, content accuracy, and user engagement. Business areas such as marketing or sales are the first to see if there is alignment between what you expect and what you get in terms of the message. Poor localization is very likely to wreak havoc. Do you know why your brand needs linguistic testing?

Linguistic testing

What is linguistic testing and what does it aim to achieve?

Linguistic testing ensures that the final product meets linguistic and cultural requirements. It plays a vital role in the success of a website, product, or software application. This process verifies that all the elements have been translated correctly and that the quality of the resulting text is up to grammatical and style standards, and that it also allows the application to function correctly.

In other words, localization is the process of adapting a product to the target market and linguistic testing verifies the cultural appropriateness of software in terms of language, grammar, rules, and regulations, as well as context. In the same way, testing the product’s functionality on different devices, systems, and in all the languages it is being localized to is of vital importance, minimizing possible user or customer dissatisfaction.

Some of the commonest linguistic and translation mistakes are:

  • Grammatical mistakes
  • Spelling mistakes
  • Punctuation mistakes
  • Omissions
  • Inconsistent terminology
  • Inconsistent wording
  • Sentence structure mistake
  • Wrong meaning
  • Wrong verb tense
  • Stylistic mistake (wrong tone or register, too formal, too slangy, etc.)
  • Unnecessary additions
  • Non-functional translation
  • Borrowed word mistake
  • Cultural adaptation mistake
  • Unnecessary borrowing

Linguistic testing aims for adequate contextualization and in doing so identifies alignment losses with the localization criteria. It does not limit itself to merely checking the accuracy of the translation. It goes one step further and allows you to localize untranslated expressions or expressions that have been made meaningless by being translated literally; incorrect translations or translations with spelling, grammar, or style mistakes, inconsistencies, inappropriate cultural references, errors in currency or time and date formats; lack of reference to country-specific conventions such as those relating to phone numbers or zip codes and mistakes in the correlation between images and texts, among others.

The product’s final quality cannot be assured without this check. The direct consequence would be difficulty in establishing and maintaining a relationship and building up trust with the user.

Contextual problems can damage the brand image and linguistic testing is key to avoid this type of issue.

How the evaluation is done

Linguistic testers work in screenshot mode on real or simulated devices looking for possible bugs which they then report. During testing, localization test engineers work closely with linguistic testers, helping to resolve any issues that may come up related to the content’s usability and functionality.

When working with software, a fairly standard problem is the appearance of truncations and overlap in the graphic user interface (GUI) due to the increased length of translations. When this happens, we work together with the localization engineers to make the new translations fit into the GUI and if they can’t, we adjust the translation to make it shorter while making sure the meaning is maintained.

After this first stage, all pertinent adjustments are made and we move on to the bug regression tests, where we check that the errors identified at the beginning of the linguistic testing have been corrected.

The professionals in charge of ensuring the text quality are native speakers of the target language and competent in the source language, with extensive experience in this type of work and a knowledge level comparable to that of the translators.

Importance of linguistic testing

Linguistic testing is key to ensure that each element aligns with the given requirements and standards to meet the target audience’s needs.

What does it contribute?

This is an essential step in any globalization strategy, since passing the linguistic tests guarantees that the product will be perfectly localized for all target markets.

What happens if we don’t do it?

A poorly translated product can have a very negative impact on sales and brand reputation. Translation mistakes in the user interface or a webpage can have repercussions that reach far beyond minor inconveniences. Just imagine if the return policy isn’t completely understood, or if there’s a misunderstanding in a game’s instructions that affects sales. Think of the effect on a brand’s reputation of not taking into account local habits and customs, which vary greatly from one part of the world to another.

These failings not only lead to customer attrition but can also affect the organization’s ability to attract and retain talent or establish business partnerships in other countries.

Localization testing vs linguistic testing

Linguistic testing is often used to verify the accuracy of plain text content, such as a corporate website, an email, bidding documents, or an instruction manual. When the focus is on localization, there is more effectiveness in terms of legislative compliance, product functionality, and alignment with local customs.

If contextualization is not assessed, the expected targets may not be met, even if the messages are free of spelling, grammar, punctuation, and style mistakes, are properly formatted, and use the right terminology.

Localization testing includes verifying correct functionality, design, and customization according to local specifications, as well as compliance with display and user interface standards, etc. It also verifies that the product has been internationalized correctly with no problems with extended characters, alphabetical order, fonts, etc. In other words, this process is intended for more complex products with a wide range of functionalities, such as computer software, web applications, games, etc. There’s really no need to choose between these two types of testing since both are important and neither should be omitted. Language is inseparable from culture, hence the importance of having experienced professionals to perform linguistic testing.

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