What’s The Difference Between a Translation and a Localization?

When thinking about how best to market goods and services, many people would consider localization and translation to be one in the same. In reality, they are quite different tools. Ever wondered what’s the difference between a translation and a localization? Read on to learn a bit more!

Translation is a necessary tool to reach out to new audiences who do not speak the same language. This tool is partly mechanical and focuses on getting the correct spelling and grammar.

Localization uses different techniques to relate to a new market, including using local currencies and ways of writing out numbers dates and addresses in written materials. Graphic design is also an important tool in localization.

Although the two work together, localization goes a step further than translation. One way to think of it is that translation is like a instruction manual written in several different languages, but localization is several different websites that target specific countries and people, but that all offer the same product or service.

While translation tries to adapt information from its existing language to other languages spoken in other markets, localization is more specific about the cultural differences of the other markets. Localization helps international consumers to relate better to a product or service. This is important because in many cases pure translation is not enough to capture an audience, since speech and dialect differs even within the same language.

Although English is spoken throughout the United States, the Philippines and the United Kingdom, (and m0re countries of course) different terms  and vernaculars are common throughout each one. For example, an American in the U.K who orders “chips” and a “biscuit” won’t receive thin, crunchy potato slices and a fluffy baked good, but instead, fries and a cookie. Speech also differs throughout Latin American countries and some differences also exist between the French spoken in France and that version spoken in Canadian regions.

In short, while translation is always a necessary tool to get across information, it’s essential to go the extra mile and add in localization to increase relatability and make the potential consumers in the new markets “feel at home”.

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