Translating Evernote: A Global App, a Local Language

At Work

Translating Evernote: A Global App, a Local Language

Posted by Greg Wén on 05 Feb 2016

Posted by Greg Wén on 05 Feb 2016

With over 25 supported languages across a range of platforms, Evernote might just be the world’s smartest elephant. But translating an app into so many different tongues is no easy feat—it takes a whole community contributing from all over the world.

Michał Newiak of Katowice is one of the people who works hard to make Evernote speak—in this case, Polish. Prior to Evernote, he’s worked on translations for HootSuite, Runtastic, Wunderlist, and Facebook. “I’ve been an Evernote user for more than five years, and I think that its sync and OCR capabilities make it an excellent tool,” Michał says. “It’s what prompted me to help translate the app: I wanted to give other people the opportunity to use it in their native language.” Michal first joined the translation community in 2011 and since then has become an important member of the Evernote localization team.

When done properly, the adaptation of a product for usage in a particular country is imperceptible. This is because localization is more than simply translating word for word. It requires a deep understanding of all the different shades of a language, from syntax to idiomatic expressions to culture. But sometimes, even the simplest ideas can be quite tricky to adapt.

Evernote Translation Server

“In Polish, the construction of a word or phrase often depends on a number of factors, including the gender of the speaker, the gender of the listener, the plurality of the speaker and listener, and the level of formality between the two. Taking all of that into consideration, perhaps you can come to understand why there are four different ways of just saying ‘Welcome!’

“Polish morphology aside, the actual Evernote translation process has really developed since I first came onboard,” Michał reflects. “In the beginning, I translated everything from scratch. The texts that needed to be worked on had no context, no background references, nothing. But at that time it was manageable, since all the projects combined probably consisted of fewer words than the Evernote iOS app today.” As the product grew over time, the localization team introduced features such as contextual previews and translation memory to facilitate the translation work and management.

“We increased our pace and improved upon our quality. We really started to work on this together.”

Today, Michał explains that the translation process is quite straightforward. “We use a management system called Pootle, where we receive the texts divided into strings. Next to each string are descriptors, screenshots, and sometimes links to previews of the webpages where the copy will be displayed.” Translators also gain access to nightly versions of the app so they can preview their own work before it’s published.”

For Michał, a hobby in translating has evolved to much more. “I already feel proud, happy, and honored just knowing that a million people use my translations every day. To be an official member of the Evernote localization team is icing on the cake.” Or rather, in Polish—wisienka na torcie—the cherry on top.

If you want to improve our existing translations or help make Evernote available in your language, join our Evernote Translation Community and get in touch with our localization team! Together, we can make Evernote better.

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