Why Names Could Stump Your Localized Software

Category: Software Translation

“What’s in name? That which we call a rose by any other name would smell as sweet.” Oh Juliet, you obviously haven’t localized any software lately. Names vary regionally, and not everyone fits into an American first-middle-last category. LinkedIn posted this article about their experience with global naming conventions, and we have some more details for you too, below.

How Many Names?

Many people the world over only have two names, comprised of a first (or given) name and a family (or surname). But what about middle names? This third name might be the mother’s family name (like in Brazil), a saint’s name, or just a second given name. Or what about people with two surnames, like in Spain (where they also might have a middle name or two in addition)? Arabic countries traditionally assign four parts to a name, a practice Saudi Arabia and Bahrain still follow, though others have adopted Westernized naming practices.

Name Order

Which name comes first? Generally split into two major categories, the “Eastern Order” convention used throughout East Asia, parts of Africa, and Hungary, is family name, followed by given name, separated by a space. Korean normally does not keep a space between family and given name, while Japan and China do. “Western Order” is given name followed by family name and is used throughout countries influenced by Western Europe (including most of Europe, North and South America, and Australia).

Name Changes & Nicknames

A woman might change her last name to her husband’s in conventional Western countries, but in China, Spain, Iceland, and many Arabic countries, her name usually stays the same after marriage. Nicknames or short forms of names are another factor to consider in localization: does Sasha or Alexander need to be displayed more prominently for your Russian client?

What To Consider As You Prepare Your Software for Localization

As you can see, you must adapt to the naming conventions of your customers in order to successfully localize your business. Make sure to add it to your checklist as you branch out to new markets. If you do it well, you’ll not only expand your market share, but also pave the way for future growth potential whether your customers have two names or over four. To understand the full impact of naming conventions as they pertain to software localization and translation for your company, contact us today.

Photo attribution: Alyssa Paris