Let’s look at a few of the things you should remember to do when localizing your app into Japanese.
Only checking for grammatical accuracy isn’t enough. Japanese is one of the most context-based languages in use today, and while it's sometimes necessary to recast phrases, that doesn’t mean much else should change — just the words used.
Why it's necessary: Completely reworking a sentence can alter how your users perceive the situation.What happens if you don't do it: You risk angering your users and losing customers.
A key scene from the 2009 video game Call of Duty 2: Modern Warfare in which a character tells another to watch his tongue by saying, “Remember, no Russian,” became “Kill them, they are Russians” in the Japanese version — not even a gist translation, but a mistranslation that led to outrage from the franchise's Japanese fans.
Translating from an alphabetic language like English into Japanese, a character-based system, means that the length of your document will most likely change. This may not be too noticeable when you’re translating an instruction manual, but in apps and other products that rely on their interface to sell, it’s important to make sure the words fit seamlessly into the design and that things work intuitively.
Why it's necessary: A well-designed UI is more likely to attract customers, and shows customers you care about their experience.
What happens if you don't do it: Not taking the time to check whether things look good can raise a red flag for users and can reduce your legitimacy — who knows where else you’ve cut corners?
When creating the Spanish-language version of the iPhone platform, Apple used the universal symbols I and O instead of writing out the full text for “on” and “off” in their system settings, making things easier to understand for their Spanish-speaking users and circumventing the problem of fitting the Spanish words for "on" and "off" into a tiny button.
Repeat after me. Context. Context. Context. Are the names of the characters in your smartphone game difficult to pronounce for Japanese speakers? Try changing them into something simpler. Is the name of your app a pun on an English word? See if you can find something similar.
Why it's necessary: People like to use things that are friendly and accessible.
What happens if you don't do it: You risk offending your audience if you don't think about the tone you're using to convey your message.
When translating your content into a complex language like Japanese, which uses a hierarchical form of speaking known as honorifics (keigo), it’s even more important to know your market. In the Japanese version of their app HeyTell, Voxilate changed the imperative command “Hold and Speak” into the more suitable ホールドしたままお話しください — "While holding the button, please speak.”
Regardless of your audience, it's always necessary to look at how your app will be used internationally. While Voxilate and Apple succeeded at this, adapting their text and interface accordingly, Square Enix didn’t do so well with its translation of Call of Duty 2 — it failed to check the actual translation against the original text.
Avoid coming under fire from others by ensuring that your app’s wording and tone are consistent and that loose ends are all tied up.
But other parts of the site are!›Go to the Gengo home page and explore
Andere Teile dieser Seite sind es jedoch!›Gehen Sie zur Gengo Startseite und gehen Sie auf Entdeckungsreise
¡Pero otras secciones de la página sí lo están!›Ve a la página inicial de Gengo y explora a tu gusto
사이트의 다른 부분은 영어로 되어 있습니다.›Gengo의 홈페이지를 둘러보세요.
但网站的其它页面均支持！›前往 Gengo 主页来探索更多