Grammar Police: Localization

This isn’t actually a “policing” situation – it’s just something I thought you might find interesting.

Writers – especially technical writers – often have to work within the scope of globalization. Globalization is a way of writing that lends itself to localization, which is the process of translating a communication into another language and culture.

For example, you can help globalize a software application by pulling text strings, icons, and other forms of communication into separate files, which can then be localized for each culture that the application will support. Culture encompasses language, but also includes things like graphical icons that might not have a similar meaning to a different people. In writing, globalization can mean taking a careful approach to the words you use.

For example, the word “with” can be extremely difficult for translators to deal with.

  • I went with her. Meaning, the two of us went together. In this case, with means something like togetherness or adjacency. Better phrased as, “She and I went together.”
  • Program that with C#. Meaning, I used C# to program it. In this case, with doesn’t mean togetherness – it means a tool that was used. Better phrased as, “Programmed by using C#.”
  • I dealt with the problem. Meaning, I handled the problem. Better phrased as, well, “I handled the problem.”
  • She is a person with initiative. Meaning, she possesses it. Better phrased as, “She has initiative.”
  • He works with diligence. Meaning a characteristic of his work. Better phrased as, “He shows diligence in his work.”

In almost all cases where globalization is a concern, with is a terrible word and should be avoided completely.

The word determine is another ambiguous word. There are lots, actually. A key, when writing for globalization, is to write super-simple. Avoid idioms, ambiguous words like with, parenthetical phrases, anything complex.

Anyway. Hope you enjoyed ;).