In this global age, we are surrounded by translation and localization, on TV and film, in novels and video games. Sometimes the terms are used interchangeably, but there’s a big difference. So here’s what’s what.
The translation process is used to express the meaning of one text into an equivalent foreign-language text. Examples include converting a technical manual from English into Japanese or a speech from Russian into English. A good translation, however, is about more than creating simple foreign-language equivalents.
Good translation takes the target language AND the target culture into account to render the right meaning for the target audience, whoever they might be. Consider translations into American English, British English, Australian English, or even “international” English when the right project calls for it.
Translation into a locale-specific language (like Irish English or South African English), however, is more often than not why translation and localization are confused, for in these particular cases, “translation” and “localization” can be used interchangeably. These terms are not always synonyms though, as you’ll soon see.
“Localization” makes its intentions plain from the start, beginning with the word “local.” The localization process consists of adapting a text’s language to a specific country, region or local audience.
That may involve the translation of a text, going between the two languages with an understanding of the target audience like a fine-toothed comb. But without translation, localization means adapting text in the same language for a different dialect or regional audience.
Chances are you’ve seen localization at work on the websites of major multinational brands. On one website, you could go to their US version, where you could make a purchase in English using dollars; their Canadian version, where you could make a purchase in English or French using Canadian dollars; their UK version, where you could make a purchase in English using pounds; etc.
Translation and Localization on Demand
Are you looking at translation and localization for your next project? I recommend we have a no-obligation chat about your requirements.
Responsive Translation offers translation and localization in more than 150 languages and dialects, and has an extensive network of translators and in-country experts specialized in subjects like clinical trials, medical devices, educational assessments and legal discovery. For further information, please get in touch at 212-355-4455 ext 208 or firstname.lastname@example.org.