Lately we’ve been discussing how to handle localization of our brand names. There’s currently a note about it on the translation page of the style guide, but that will soon be updated to the following:
Our brand names do not get localized, translated or transcribed. Anything that’s a proper noun with a leading capital letter (Firefox, Marketplace, etc.) remains in the original English and is always spelled out in Roman characters. In some languages, depending on the grammatical case of the word, it may need to have a different ending or be otherwise rewritten to make sense. In these instances, please rewrite the sentence instead to keep the brand name unchanged. All other names (add-ons, themes, etc.) should be localized as usual.
We decided to add the clarification after a recent discussion about how to translate “State of Mozilla.” (The example that sparked it came from Polish, but I’ll use Czech since it’s similar.)
Because of the way Czech works, there’s no word for “of” that you can use in that phrase. Instead, a literal translation becomes “Stav Mozilly,” where the changed spelling denotes that it’s “of Mozilla.” If we were to write it as “Stav Mozilla,” however, to a Czech speaker that would be the equivalent of writing “State Mozilla” in English. It’s not only awkward, it’s also wrong.
We’d like to preserve the spelling of our brand names wherever possible, so in this case the solution we suggested was to rewrite the phrase to something like “Mozilla: Stav společnosti” or “Stav společnosti Mozilla,” which means “state of the company.” The meaning is preserved, as is the spelling.
Please let us know in the comments if this is something you’ve encountered when localizing. We’d love to get more examples and hear about other languages where this kind of thing happens.