As companies look to expand their global audience, they often come across a couple of terms that may seem synonymous, but in reality have different meanings. Though highly related, the terms Translation & Localization have different meanings depending on the context in which they are used. This article will define the differences between the two and explain they are related.
Localization occurs when an effort is made to adapt products, services, and materials, in a way that will specifically appeal to and meet the needs of a particular culture, region or country. The intent of localization is to create a native experience for the target market. This is done by in-country human linguists that understand local culture and language.
In regards to business localization projects, you will need to keep in mind factors such as images & graphics, design & layout, local formats, and market tastes, in order to create a native experience for your target market.
If you are localizing business content for more than one target market, you will need to keep these factors in mind for each market and provide native experiences for each one.
Localization is abbreviated as L10N, which means “L – ten letters– N”.
Translation is more granular a term than localization. Translation is the literal changing of words from the source (native) language into a target language, while also keeping the same meaning in the context of the original language. Translation involves both written and verbal language, though verbal language translation is often referred to as interpretation.
Accurate translations that offer the same meaning in one language to next is key to driving the desired results. Truly understanding the context in which language is used in the source language and understanding how to communicate that same message in the same context in the target language is how to bring about accurate translations.
In regards to your website localization project, translation will be the majority of the work that will need to be done, as all content will need to be translated from your source language to your target language(s).
In conclusion, localization occurs at the project level, assuring that all aspects of the project are localized to the target audience, and delivery a native experience to the end user. Translation on the other hand is the majority of the work that will be done in a localization project that involves a lot of content. Assuring the content means the same thing in the target language(s) as it does in the native language, thus offering the same experience and eliciting the same desired end result.
If you’re looking to learn more about how Translation and Localization can help your business grow, check out our article Translation & Localization Considerations For Global Growth.