Linguistic Testing: What Is It And Why Do You Need It?


blue lab instrument with latin letter getting into one tube and cyrillic letter getting out of another tube. Symbolizing the need to perform linguistic testing

Let’s say you have developed an incredibly innovative, potentially life-changing software. How can you make sure you have done all it takes for it to be successful on a global scale?

The first thing to do is, of course, to have it localized into as many languages and cultural contexts as the number of target markets.

Good. Done. But there’s one more fundamental step before you send your software out into the wide, wild world. It’s called linguistic testing, and at LingPerfect, we have the necessary experience and resources to guide you through it.

What is Software Linguistic Testing?

3D toy-like illustration of laptop, software program, coding and cloud solution against turquoise background

Before being released, all software needs to be tested.

Software testing takes place on different levels, i.e., functional and non-functional.

  • Functional testing means verifying the quality and functionality of the software. It validates whether or not the software is stable and ready to be released.
  • Non-functional testing encompasses various testing techniques with a view to assessing the non-functional aspects of a software application, i.e., evaluating the effectiveness of an application under different and unforeseeable conditions.

Linguistic testing is a sub-category of non-functional testing and is aimed at ensuring the linguistic and cultural appropriateness of a software product. 

With linguistic testing, you can ensure the software application (or platform) has the required linguistic quality and adequately caters to the requirements and expectations of people from the target culture.

Why is Linguistic Testing Necessary?

Cardboard figures representing diverse people in different hues of brown with a globe in the background. Symbolizes many cultures in a globalized world

Software is hardly ever developed for personal use. Most of the time, it is made for global use and consumption, which is why its subsequent globalization (involving internationalization and a localization process) is necessary to ensure that you duly capitalize on all the efforts you made to engineer and develop the software.

Although it is called linguistic testing, this important process is both a linguistic and cultural assessment of your product’s suitability. 

That’s why linguistic and localization testing services (LT) are crucial in determining the success of a software product or website.

The Scope of Linguistic Testing

Man wearing black and white stripe shirt looking at many printer papers on the wall. Symbolizes the wide scope of linguistic testing

To ensure the complete linguistic and cultural accuracy of a software’s localized functionalities, UI (User Interface), and screens, linguistic testers need to cover a series of aspects, i.e., verify that:

  • the language used is culturally appropriate
  • there are no grammatical errors or spelling mistakes
  • the terminology used is consistent 
  • the tone and style of the language used in the software are suitable 
  • images and related texts are matching correctly 
  • there are no untranslated parts of the content
  • there is no overlapping or truncated text (due to the differences in language length)
  • there are no corrupted characters (a potential issue with encoding)
  • images and symbols are suitable for the target culture
  • country-specific formats (e.g., metrics, time and date, currency conversions, zip codes, numeric formats, etc.) are correct;
  • product- or company-related information (e.g., contacts, external links, phone numbers, etc.) is correct

Can Any Translator Perform Linguistic Testing?

Male hand placing five wooden cut circles with stars on them in a row over bright yellow background. Conceptual image of Quality check in linguistic testing

Being a linguistic tester requires a different skill set than being a translator. Linguistic testing focuses on finding linguistic issues in a product or service across different cultures and locales.

This could include: 

  • linguistic accuracy, 
  • spelling/grammar/punctuation correctness, 
  • controversial language, and 
  • suitability of the linguistic content for its intended audience(s). 

It is essentially a quality assurance process, so linguistic testers need to possess extensive linguistic knowledge as well as technical skills like editing and proofreading

On the other hand, translators are responsible for transforming documents from one language to another. It requires excellent linguistic proficiency in both the source and target languages to achieve success but does not require the kind of technical expertise required for linguistic testing.

The Process of Linguistic Testing

Two male software programmers and female linguistic tester looking at computer screens

Part 1: How to Choose Your Tester

Although the linguistic testing and quality assurance process may vary from one software or website developer to the other, the fundamental steps for language quality assurance are mostly the same. 

First of all, WHO will be in charge of performing linguistic testing? 

Software professionals may decide to entrust it to:

  • An employee who is also proficient in multiple languages.
  • An external resource – possibly a student – who can perform the testing on a budget.
  • Linguistic experts or a language service provider.

Options A and B are more economical, no doubt. However, experience has taught us that hiring native language experts is the only guarantee of accurate and flawless linguistic testing. Think of the costs (economic and in terms of image and credibility) that could derive from a clumsy, unprofessional translation. Linguistic testing is a perfect example of “spend more to spend less.”

Part 2: How is it Done

Software or a website is not a simple word document. So, how are linguistic testers supposed to work?

  • You can provide remote access to your software application or platform, thus allowing language experts to work directly on the original infrastructure whilst safeguarding its security and integrity.
  • If giving remote access to someone outside of your company is too risky from the point of view of security, you can capture and share screenshots with your language experts. They may then write their comments on a separate file or add text to the screenshots. 

The second method may be safer, but it is time-consuming and requires a final effort to accept and integrate the tester’s observations and remarks into the software. It can work for one language but can prove an absolute nightmare when there is more than language involved.

Best Practices in Linguistic Testing

Red wax seal with engraved label saying Top Quality Best of the Best. Symbolizes best practices in linguistic testing.

We can take care of the “linguistic” part of linguistic testing. However, if you want the process to be smooth (in other words, to save time and money), here are a few best practices worth adopting: 

  • KEEP IT SIMPLE – Make the testing process as simple as possible, keeping in mind that not all linguists are IT experts.
  • WHO’S DOING WHAT? – Make roles and tasks as straightforward as possible right from the beginning of the testing phase 
  • KEEP AN OPEN MIND – Linguists may raise doubts and linguistic issues, which may sometimes come as a surprise.
  • UPDATE YOUR PRODUCT – Do not ignore or forget to implement the observations offered by your linguistic tester.

What if You Skip Linguistic Testing?

Question mark made of crumpled pieces of paper on red background. Symbolizes time wasted by making mistakes

Skipping the linguistic review of your localized content is never a good idea. And we speak from years (16!) of experience.

The risk is to release a final product that is localized but contains a whole series of errors (broken characters, typing errors, and cultural blunders) that an experienced professional linguistic tester could have easily corrected. 

These, of course, can compromise the user’s experience and make all the efforts you put into developing your otherwise brilliant software or website totally pointless. 

In practice, you may be forced to release a new, upgraded (linguistically tested) version of your product before you intended, which will inevitably cost you more money. 

And your brand image will not be any better for it.

Choosing the Best Partner for your Linguistic Testing

Black and white headshots of LingPerfect Linguistic Testing team

At LingPerfect, we have been selecting highly-skilled linguistic testers for years and can rely on a team of reliable experts for this complex, crucial task.

Focus on getting your software application or website just right. We’ll take care of making it as good in over 200 languages. Reach out today to find out more.

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