What is Localization?

    Danilo Coviello

    Many clients ask us “what’s localization?” and “what’s the difference between translation and localization?”. In this post, we define the meaning of the two individually, explain how localization and translation are related, and highlight what the distinct differences are.

    Knowing this information will help you to choose which service is the most appropriate for whatever task you have at hand. It could also help you to have more success with international business matters and to better understand advertisements and marketing strategies targeting foreign audiences.

    Translation and localization are two very similar but at the same time different language services. While the two have a lot in common there are very also some very distinct differences between them.

    Translation and Localization: Similarities & Differences

    First off, how are they both similar?

    The definition of translation is the process of translating text or words from one language into another language.

    The definition of localization is the process of making certain content local in character or restricting it to a specific place or culture.

    Request a quote

    From both of those definitions, we can see that both localization and translation involve translating from a primary or original language into another and that is the main similarity between the two. The differences are as follows:

    Translation is all about keeping the original statement or message intact. Translating is basically taking content that was written or created in a certain language and converting that content into a language that is needed for a specific audience. This includes using the original grammar and vocabulary of the audience that is being targeted to represent the original content. Most people have a familiar idea of what translation is and when it should be used.

    Localization, as previously mentioned, is similar to translation but it goes one step further. The localization process involves translating a certain text but during translation, it also adapts the wording so that it can be targeted more specifically and directly to a primary culture or audience. This means that after it has been translated, it may not be an exact replica of the original content like it would be with translation. That is where the two are very different.

    Let us give you an example of when you might use the two. You would use translation if you had written an informational document that you simply wanted to be understood by Spanish speakers. Localization, on the other hand, would be used if you were to translate your company’s branding to sell products in the Spanish market. Localization would ensure that your brand image is expressed in the same way in Spanish, even if this involves using different words and not just a direct translation. It would also consider things like cultural, social and religious norms, ensuring that the symbolism in your company logo is not misinterpreted or doesn’t offend anyone.

    Localization vs. Translation

    So, is translation or localization best for your project?

    Remember, when needing to convey an original message or literal meaning of content Translation is the language service you would want to apply. Such circumstances might include official documents and instruction manuals, for example. Translation helps ensure that the documents are as similar to the original copy as possible and keeps the translated version very accurate.

    Request a quote

    Translation in many ways is generic, whereas localization allows businesses to drive engagement. Localization creates material that speaks to specific markets. It also gives material more depth and understanding for the designated reader. Localization is often used for software, websites, video games and apps for mobile phones, where the content should resonate on a more personal level. Websites, apps, etc. are instances where a deeper connection with the users involved is needed, where translated material tends to not be as personalized. Website localization is more customized and is proven to be more persuasive when trying to sell certain ideas. It is the level of fluency that directly sets localization apart from translation.

    When choosing to translate content directly you can ensure that the outcome is competent, but the content will not have any personalized character that the audience could perceive in an individual way.

    When Should Localization Be Used?

    Translation is undoubtedly the best choice to use with instances that are not super specific.

    Businesses tend to use website localization when adapting their marketing campaigns. Using localization for this enables them to connect with the market in a specific setting and area of the world.

    Aside from businesses and business settings, websites, as well as other forms of online media heavily, depend on both localization and translation to connect with broad audiences where they can monitor requirements for a larger appeal using information that encourages specific groups of people to react in a positive way.

    Translation and localization will help any business that is attempting to reach out to a new market or audience. Both translation and localization are methods that have been proven to work but to correctly utilize them, it is vital that people completely understand the differences. To summarize translation is a wonderful choice for conveying meaning in a very accurate way, and localization is an approach that is more personalized and customized to a specific audience and their needs.

    Projects and the complexity of each one can vary and need various levels of localization and translation. Therefore, it is very important to choose a language service that is well-established. Choosing a dependable translation provider will help you decide which path is best for your specific content whether its localization or translation. Understanding and remembering the importance of finding which one fits your needs specifically will always be beneficial to you and to your business.