20 Mar 2015

There’s no surprise that most of languages have both formal and informal voice. Some of them are definately familiar to you:


That is why, while localizing your app, the translator or localization agency should clearly understand who your target audience is. Is it a business app or a game, social network or shares tracker, etc.

The main difficulty is that the tone is not always obvious.

Let’s consider a photo sharing app as an example. The target audience includes both young and old people and the main task is to make the app approachable to all of them. Consult your translator. He or she understands the foreign environment better than you do. While localizing, remember that something informal in one country may still be formal in another one.

If you don’t specify a voice

If you don’t pay enough attention to the question of voice, the translator will choose the voice himself. And this choice will not necessarily meet your expectations. So, if you don’t want to work everything over, changing every verb, you should state your preferences in advance.

What concerns translators, they may study competing products in the same field, choose the ones, that are similar to the localized app and find out what tense they use. For example, if they localize a social networking app, they can study Facebook or Twitter and check their voices. But anyway, if you are not shure which voice to use, it’s still better to use the formal one.

English is no exception

It’s a common misconception that English language has nothing similar. Even if the English words are not conjugated differently like in other languages, the language still has a tone. The tone in English is expressed by the means of contracted forms, dropping relative clauses and changing relative pronouns. Both auxiliary and phrasal verbs are widely used in English text.

To sum up, we should state once again, that it is highly important to consider the voice while localizing apps. Languages are flexible, and the rise of the Internet has “lowered the tone” of what we write. But it’s definately clear that financial apps should avoid colloquialisms, whereas games may well adopt some of them.