The New Localization Minor in the College of Humanities

The College of Humanities has added a new minor in localization to help meet the needs of students planning to work in an international market.

PROVO, Utah (Sept. 12, 2016)—The new localization minor in the College of Humanities is one way for student to combine the career Europe globe close up map antique sepia filtered worldthey would love to have with the language they love to speak. Localization is the process of taking a product that has been generalized to fit an international audience and modifying it to target a specific culture. This process includes direct translation of text and audio, but also an understanding of how that culture relates to different foods, symbols, sports, ideas, etc. and how a company can best change their product to be appealing to that particular area.

Sherami Jara, an advisor in the Humanities Advisement and Careers Office, commented, “[When a product is localized well] it speaks to them. It speaks to their culture. A localizer is someone who can help a company figure out the nuances of a specific culture so that they don’t blow their opportunity in the market and embarrass themselves.”

BYU is the only school with an undergraduate degree in localization in the United States. “Some schools offer certificates,” said Jara. “But BYU really is the new leader in localization.”

The localization program initially started out as a way to round out Spanish and Portuguese minors to become more marketable. Interest in the program grew rapidly until the minor and the localization club included students working toward degrees in computer science, life science, business and a variety of other language majors. Now any student who is proficient in another language can get a minor in localization, which will enable them to become a powerhouse in the global market.

“Every student needs an understanding of international business because they are all going to be working in an international community,” said Jeremy Browne, an associate professor for the Office of Digital Humanities.

Students in the minor can expect to take classes in translation, business, and digital programming. “Translation and localization is never a one person deal anymore. The software out there helps people be able to collaborate,” he explained.

The digital humanities classes are also important for anyone hoping to advertise a product globally. Browne continued, “Anything you do now that’s online has to be available in many different languages. If you don’t build that in from the bottom, you have to rewrite it at the end to make it available.”

In a world that is increasingly more dependent on technology and a global market, members of the campus localization club, known as the L10n Club, believe that localization is essential to succeed in making an impact. L10n is an abbreviation for localization, like T9n is for translation Kekoa Riggin, one of the cofounders of the L10n Club, originally came to BYU to study Spanish translation, but was struck by the increasing need for localization in companies across the world.  

When asked about the club’s activities, Riggin gave this description: “Our big event was a networking event where we had short presentations and seminars all day and a group networking event with professionals and localization companies. At that event alone, more than 10 of our club members were placed in full-time positions or internships. Since then, we have had many more students placed, including all four of the club founders.”

Riggin is now pursuing a master’s degree in computational linguistics at the University of Washington. He concluded “I believe that any student can be successful with the help of this club as long as they take advantage of the opportunities. I see the Localization Club as a multiplier of student success; you will get out of it in proportion to what you put into it.”

—Hannah Sandorf (BA Art History and Curatorial Studies ‘17)

Hannah covers events for the Linguistics and English Language Department for the College of Humanities. She is a junior pursuing a degree in art history with a minor in art.