What is Pseudo Localization?
Let’s start this article by defining the word “Pseudo localization”.
Pseudo means pretended and not real. Therefore, pseudo localization means localization that is not real.
Pseudo localization is a way of testing the content of an application or software to demonstrate that it is suitable to be internationalized and localized.
All translatable strings in an application are replaced with text strings that are very similar to the target language. Still, instead of containing an actual translation, they contain text with multiple alterations, such as banned characters, longer text strings, or text with a different direction.
Pseudo Localization Process
The pseudo-localization process aims to find errors in localizable elements before it’s too late.
In addition, it also serves to simulate the final result of the localized object and estimate the additional effort to be able to fix it before delivery.
Some problems that pseudo-localization can detect are:
- Corrupted characters: Here you can see if your application engine is e.g., ASCII or ANSI characters are supported.
- Text that does not fit in the graphical interface and needs to be shortened or trimmed.
- Interface issues with right-to-left languages.
- Problems with languages whose characters may differ from those in the source language. Some languages, e.g., Swedish for example, contain characters (Å, Ä, and Ö) that are not in the English language and can therefore cause problems if the application is not prepared for them.
Additionally, pseudo-localization is very useful for detecting text that has been translated but should not be translated.
Where is it Used?
During the development of some applications and operating systems, such as Windows, various builds allowed the use of language packs with pseudo-locals.
These pseudo-locals contained text strings identical to those in English, except that the characters were changed to English-like characters but with accents and characters from other languages. This is very useful because the text is not completely gibberish but is perfectly understandable and it provided a very good way of detecting localization problems, even being able to read the text strings.
Can you read this?
[Шěđлеśđαỳ !!!], 21 ōf [Děcěmßëŕ !!] ōf 2022.
Pseudo-localization allows you to verify that your product is localizable without having to localize it into an actual language. Many potential localization issues can be discovered without the need for an actual translation.
Let’s imagine what would happen if placeholders or tags get translated. If these are unintentionally “translated,” the build could fail, or the app could crash during use.
Pseudo localization results are not only useful for the software localization process, but it is also useful in the document localization process to estimate DTP efforts and detect text that has not been included for translation.
Pseudo localization also aids in the identification and rectification of hard-coded text strings, fostering a more robust, concrete, and maintainable code base, allowing developers to check for language support, text expansion, truncated text, and formatting without the need for actual translations.