Identifying the differences between translation and localization
On the surface, translation and localization seem to be very similar. Take a product, such as a website, and convert the content to another language so that it can be visited by new customers. Ultimately, translation is just a part of localization. Understanding in which cases a business should translate something versus localize something is key for both reaching audiences and reducing costs. Localization services are more in-depth and will take more time to properly execute. Translation, on the other hand, is a more straightforward process and will most likely cost less. Due to the global nature of today’s world, both translation and localization are helping companies reach broader audiences. Let’s take a deeper look at the differences in translation and localization.
In short, translation is the process of converting written content from one language to another. While that makes it sound like a straightforward process, there are some hidden traps when translating. Direct translations are likely to fail in many scenarios. For example, here are previous blog listing words that simply do not have English translations. Translations have to convey the actual meaning of the text; direct translations will oftentimes fail to do that.
As a quick side note, we should look at the differences between translating and interpretation. Since translation is focused on written content, more time, resources and effort can be put into making sure it’s exact. Interpreting is the conversion of a spoken message to a different language and therefore is a little less exact. When interpreting, it is more important to keep up with the speaker and convey the meaning of what they are saying.
The process of localization is to take the content and tailor it specifically for a region. Sometimes this involves translation, but not always. For example, if you have a website in the US and would like to expand to the UK, you wouldn’t need a language translation. What you do need is to understand the cultural, spelling, and grammatical differences between the two. If you were trying to convert the same website to Japanese, then the translation is most definitely needed, but cultural and other differences will still need consideration as well.
To emphasize the importance of reaching new audiences, here’s a graph by Statista that shows which countries internet users are from.
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