What localization brings to translation

Localization and translation appears to be very similar. But one really goes beyond the other and brings something more to your content.

Many times, international organizations and companies need services that go beyond translation and that take into account a cultural approach, as a key to their expansion abroad. This process is called localization. This article will explain what localization is and how it is different from translation.

Let’s have a quick look at the definitions

“Translation is the communication of the meaning of a source-language text by means of an equivalent target-language text “(The Oxford Companion to the English Language, Namit Bhatia, ed., 1992, pp. 1,051–54.).

Localization goes further than translation in that it includes a cultural dimension: it is the process of adapting a product or a service for a specific region.

Localization goes beyond translation in two main ways

Localization brings a new feature to translation. It takes into account cultural aspects where languages have a great importance. Knowing a culture allows a better manipulation of the language; when you are familiar with customs and traditions, it is easier for you to find distinctions, tones and nuances. Consequently, localization involves a deeper comprehension of both the target and source languages. We could even go as far as to say that localization is a more accomplished version of translation because it provides more than simple word-to-word conversion.

Localization also brings a consultancy dimension to translation. It is a deeper version of translation where the translator is a real actor in the firms’ expansion abroad. They are entrusted with a cultural mission; they are an expert in the target market that is able to advise clients regarding their implementation strategies. In addition to translation, the localization process might include adapting graphics, currencies, forms for dates, addresses, phone numbers, choices of colors… It suggests a rethinking of the structure of presentation. Localization carries a business aspect; because it aims to ensure that the product enters the local market fluidly, avoiding conflict and aligning naturally with its targeted needs.

However, don’t forget that translation is still the key to localization and even to internationalization. Successful localization can’t happen without a powerful translation. Translation is the foundation of the whole process of localization.

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