Best Practices in Linguistic Testing

Learn more about the four fundamental models and current approaches to linguistic testing.

Linguistic testing is sometimes confused with localization testing, yet there is a difference between them.


Here are some simplified definitions:

  • Localization testing focuses on the correct functionality, appearance and completeness of the localized product.
  • Linguistic testing takes care of ensuring the correct language rules are being used and focuses on correct in-context linguistic usage.

The border between these two types of testing can be a bit blurred and there are several cases where a localization test engineer can easily report a problem that would normally be expected to come from a linguistic reviewer. And vice versa.

Depth of Linguistic Testing

There is always a dilemma that must be decided at the very beginning of a software localization project - you need to know what level of detail is important to you and where to draw the line of not needing to take care of every single detail. To ensure linguistic quality, there are basically two different approaches that affect how testing will be completed, the target quality, and of course the cost. Those two approaches are:

  • In-context review - With this approach, the reviewer just skims the dialogs boxes, menus and pages and verifies that the localized content corresponds to the expectations of a user.
  • Linguistic analysis - In this approach, a professional linguist goes through all the strings displayed on the screen and carefully observes all language aspects and verifies that the linguistic conventions regarding consistent and appropriate use of language, proper use of terminology, correct style and tone are strictly followed, and that the localized text corresponds to the correct functionality of the UI.

Picking the Right Approach

There are some "best practices" that can be followed in order to perform linguistic testing. No matter if you do it yourself or if you ask a vendor to do it for you, there are basically four approaches that can be considered when it comes to linguistic testing:

  • Internal resources
  • External linguists onsite
  • Remote access
  • Creating screenshots

To continue reading, please download the full PDF version of this article, published in the September 2009 issue of the testing experience magazine.

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