Career Opportunities in the localization industry!

Written by: Shraddha Damle

Have you ever imagined how advertisers come up with catchy taglines which grab customer’s attention and help create a memory around the product? We see such taglines on print and TV ads. We like to recite them, quote them in conversations and use it in our as a comebacks to our friends. Not just the taglines, but even jingles, the atmosphere, gestures and even dance steps are so catchy in these ads that they find a common thread to connect with the audience immediately.  

“तुझा चेहरा एकदा दिसला तर …’’ Pears,  

“कधी विचार केला आहे का रंगांचा – JSW Paint’’,  

“माझ्या आवडीचे चमचमीत पदार्थ मी नेहमीच खातो – Tirumala Oil’’, 

“मम्मी आणि तरीही इतकी यंग आणि ग्लोइंग स्किन – Santoor’’  

These are some of the taglines translated from english to Marathi and they have retained their popularity even in regional languages. Some of them have entered as a template in the world of memes, which is a token of their success indeed. 

In order to take your product across the regions and in the grassroot, you need to adapt it as per the local context without changing the identity the product is trying to establish. Thus, the language, script, voiceover, lyrics of the jingles can be localized, but they will have to retain the soul of the branding. 

So, like the examples above, the original plot of the Hindi advertisements have been adapted in Marathi. The advertisements have retained their original themes in the translation, while gelling perfectly with the regional audience. 

Do you remember the movies Lion King or Mowgli? These movies were dubbed in Hindi and certain other Indian languages. But dubbing was not just a translation, it also involved adapting the characters to Indian context with their regional tones, pronunciations and accents. For example, Bhalu became famous for his pubjabi english accent. Don’t you wonder how this regional identity of the character made it more memorable for us and who puts a thought behind it?

I want to share one more interesting experience. I recently met an adorable and charming 80 years old lady in my family. At this age, she had learned to use a mobile phone. She loved using whatsapp and playing online games. However, one thing bothered her the most was all the apps she was using had instructions in English. She kept pestering her granddaughter to explain the instructions. Tired of so many questions from grandma, one day the granddaughter changed the mobile’s language settings to Marathi. For grandma, it was a miracle as not just the phone but all the eligible apps were now displaying instructions in the language she was well versed with. A minor change in the language had opened limitless accessibility for grandma who was otherwise restricted and dependent on others for using the device. Ever wondered who is helping adapt these contents in local languages?

Certainly there is no one person, but a team of translators, advertisers, copywriters, linguists are working at the back end to make these changes possible. These experts together form the world of content localization, a word which not many of you may be familiar with. 

For students pursuing a career in languages, this is a great new opportunity. But for better prospects, you need to familiarise yourself with Hindi and English languages as well, as most of the localization work originates from these languages. Your command and familiarity with English and Hindi will provide you an edge. Secondly, you need to develop an in-depth understanding of your own audience and their lives. This will bring the flavour in copy writing skills. 

To make a career in localization, accuracy and command over the language grammar and structure is must. With a degree in language or mass communication, you can approach localization agencies or even clients directly for work. Agencies have positions for translators, linguists, reviewers and experts for each regional language. The companies always have a wider base of language experts on board to be able to cater to a wide audience base in India. 

This field has been growing at the back end of the digital revolution in India and not many people are aware of it. Hundreds of new apps are popping up everyday catering to medical, legal, e-commerce or educational needs of the people. While the contents and functions of these apps are technical, they have a challenge of ensuring that the customer always gets a friendly experience while using their technology. It may be a website or an app, the companies do not want customers to leave their product for not being able to understand its contents, especially because of the language barrier. 

Although it is true that computers introduced the Internet to the masses in the 90s, the advent of mobile phones has made the whole world come at the click of a finger. 

Consider another simple example. The driver can be anyone who can drive a SUV, a car or a goods transporter. Irrespective of their background, each of them uses a map on their phone before starting their journey. They need to follow the instructions on their screen and understand the app’s language. And now imagine the driver not being able understand or misinterpreting the instructions in foriegn language? The language barrier should not restrict a skilled driver from using the app for improving his performance and delivery. And at times such as these localisation has a key role to play, which allows drivers to read and listen to the instructions in their local language. 

Translators and linguists deliver these facilities for different products by removing the language obstacles in accessing the company’s products. 

Another interesting fact about this work is that this profession does not have the physical boundaries and one can work from any part of the world just with the help of a computer and internet. 

Today, many sectors are facing hurdles of getting employees to work due to the lockdown situation. But, the linguists are able to work from home. You can even choose to work part time or full time in this sector. 

With the advent of technology, new products will keep pouring in. If you wish to utilise your love for languages to help make technology accessible for more people then do consider a career in localization. 

This was a brief introduction to the localization sector. Hope to add more soon!

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