Understanding the scope of linguistic testing

When it comes to software testing, the first thing that comes to our mind is functionality verification. Off late, non-functional areas such as performance, security, usability, localization are also gaining prominence. Localization is of special importance here since it covers both functional and non-functional areas under its fold. Here again, we typically look at only localization functional, UI and pseudo localization testing amongst the varied areas we need test coverage on. However, in the recent times, teams are beginning to understand the value of linguistic and translation testing. Translation testing as the name goes, focuses on the translated content both from a translation correctness as well as contextual correctness standpoints. Associated with this is linguistic testing, which looks beyond just the core translation testing. We recently had a linguistic expert in Arabic make a presentation in our organization talking about this area in great detail and it was such an eye opening exercise for us.

He talked about the two main categories called overt and covert that need to be accounted in the test coverage. Overt issues are some of the more obvious ones such as grammar errors, typos, translation issues, confusing instructions, missing voices, complex animations etc. Whereas, when you look at the covert issues, some of the subtle but very important cultural issues surface – these include high and low power distance taking into account geographical powered usability, color profiles (which we often look only from an accessibility angle) – for example, red in China is a color of power, but is a color of danger in the US, symbols and icons, fonts, regional names, border disputes etc. For example, Japanese market typically calls for more animation. Depending on whether the calendar is Gregorian or Lunar dates will change, holidays will change – he talked about a few examples of how companies like Coco Cola and Nike had to face serious repercussions for their releases that were not tested for linguistic accuracy. At the end of this session, we all walked out with a new found respect for linguistic testing and were aware of the nuances involved in this test area.

Is your organization invested in linguistic testing? If not, now is the time to plan and implement a strategy.

About the Author

Rajini Padmanaban

Rajini Padmanaban

As Vice President, Testing Services and Engagements, Rajini Padmanaban leads the engagement management for some of QA InfoTech's largest and most strategic accounts. She has over seventeen years of professional experience, primarily in software quality assurance. Rajini advocates software quality through evangelistic activities including blogging on test trends, technologies and best practices. She is also a regular speaker in conferences run by SQE, QAI STC ,ATA, UNICOM, EuroStar and has orchestrated several webinars. Her writings are featured in TechWell, Sticky Minds, Better Software Magazine. She has co-authored a book on crowdsourced testing . She can be reached at rajini.padmanaban@qainfotech.com

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