I had this idea to write a blog post about the difficulties you face when working as a translator in the Silicon Valley. I am still not sure about the title, because I already racked my brain over a single term or word that could describe all these technical texts about computer software, apps, games, new digital gadgets, smartphones, updates etc. What kind of term would best describe all the crazy creativity that happens in this place every day? Maybe something like “silicon symphony”?

You are lucky, if you translate for Google or Apple. The big companies usually have their own lists of terms, translation memories, references and style guides. While you have to strictly apply all their translation rules, you also have access to all their translation support. Lots of terms like “heart rate monitor” or “force touch technology” are on a list. You only need to know, what list to use for specific terms. In doubt you can create a query to ask for clarification about the translation of a term.

This can add to the already difficult translation, because you are checking all the references twice to make sure you didn’t make any mistakes.

Even more challenging translations in the form of websites, marketing texts, apps and games bring you in contact with the latest developments on the market. Sometimes it is not about difficult technical terms. I often stumble over everyday colloquial expressions like “What’s up?” that can pop up in any in-game character conversations. It is helpful to have an idea about the game you are translating. Otherwise users in your country might wonder about the function of a button, or get confused with levels and special items. Sometimes you also have to perform a quality check with an app or game translation to make sure that those funny button texts never make it to the user.

Translating in the Silicon Valley can be a very challenging and creative process, because all these new products and creations need to be localized, so that users in your country may also make sense of what is in front of them, either a new smartphone, or the latest update of their favorite game.