The issue of translating "proper nouns" comes up a lot in coding software that will be localized into other languages. Developers, in my experience, like to hardcode anything and everything if possible. This is not just a US programming phenomenon – I've seen Japanese developers do the same thing, making localizing the software into English just as difficult.


The argument is usually something like "You don't translate a company name, like Boeing." Ah, but you do transliterate it. In fact, Boeing, and Microsoft for that matter, transliterate their company names on their own websites.  When transliterated phonetically into Japanese katakana Microsoft becomes "マイクロソフト" and Boeing becomes "ボーイング " Conversely, since most non-Japanese don't read Japanese, we are used to reading Japanese transliterated into the Roman alphabet, e.g. "Tokyo" than "東京". There are plenty of languages which do not use the Western European writing system.


Just to be clear, here are the definitions of translate and transliterate:
Translate: turn words into different language: to reproduce a written or spoken text in a different language while retaining the original meaning.
Transliterate: transcribe something into another alphabet: to represent letters or words written in one alphabet using the corresponding letters of another.
Microsoft® Encarta® 2006. © 1993-2005 Microsoft Corporation. All rights reserved.


What this practically means that any text that is displayed to a user must be able to be localized, whether it's translated or transliterated. Plain and simple.