Language Guidelines In Software Translations
Here are some general guidelines on language and style in software translations:
• Try to be creative, i.e. avoid literal translations of software options. Always verify the meaning or function of each software option, and use a word in the target language that accurately describes that feature.
• Ensure that the translation of software strings is consistent within and between software products.
• Choose terminology which is consistent with the target operating system, for example use standard Apple Mac OS or Microsoft Windows terminology. Some software publishers make their standard terminology freely available over the web.
• Avoid using the first person (I or we) anywhere in messages, and avoid using second person.
• Always try to use the imperative mood, as this makes the text easier to follow.
• Where exclamation marks are used in the English software, do not automatically include these in the translations, unless absolutely necessary. In many languages, it is less common to use exclamation marks.
• If menus or options are used to open a dialog box, use consistent translations for both the option and dialog box. For example, if the "Save As..." command opens a dialog box which has the same title, in Swedish both items should be translated as "Spara som".
• Adjust capitalization to the standards of the target language. In English, software options are usually written in title case, e.g. Open File. In many other languages grammatical rules will dictate how it should be written. In German, for example, this would be written as "Datei öffnen", where "open" is in lower case.
• Use a consistent style and grammatical form for specific types of user interface components. It is better to use the imperative form for menu commands and dialog box options or buttons. Also try to be consistent when translating status bar messages.
• Adapt the language in the user interface to suit local conventions. For example, if the English user interface says "Congratulations, you have successfully installed this application" the translation may need to be more formal, so delete the word "Congratulations".