What’s the Difference Between Translation and Localization?

The average business owner has heard of translation, at least in passing. Fewer know about localization, though, and those that do often assume the two terms are interchangeable. In fact, there are some key differences between localization and translation that business owners need to know about if they want to find the right services to meet their needs.

Translation and Localization

What Is Translation?

In its simplest form, translation is the process of converting written words from one language to another. Accurate translations aren’t usually translated literally, but even a translation that isn’t performed word-for-word can still create ambiguities, especially for people who come from vastly different cultural backgrounds. It’s also worth noting that the term translation is only applied to written documents.

What Is Localization?

Localization is a more complex and comprehensive process. It involves not just direct or indirect translation but also employing multiple techniques designed to adapt the content so that it makes sense to people from different cultures. Business owners who are interested in expanding their operations to different countries with not just language barriers but also cultural differences can visit https://zabtranslation.com/multimedia.html for help.

Key Differences Between Localization and Translation

The most important distinction between translation and localization is that the former addresses only changes in language while the latter generally involves making changes to accommodate cultural differences, as well. This distinction also leads to other key differences.

Use of Images

Translation services only change the language in which written content is presented. Localization can also involve adapting images to be more appropriate for a different audience based on cultural norms. If a document includes images that must be changed to accommodate a new audience, the text will also have to be localized.

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Layout and Formatting

In some cases, the layout and formatting of documents need to be changed to accommodate a different language. People read English from left to right. However, there are plenty of other languages, such as Hebrew and Arabic, that read from right to left. A translator would switch the direction of the lines, but he or she wouldn’t be tasked with changing the formatting of the rest of the document to accommodate it.

Cultural Content Changes

  • Localization also accounts for cultural content changes. They can include:
  • Changes in color depending on different cultural meanings
  • The use of different images or icons
  • Changes to text to reflect societal codes like etiquette, humor, and the use of symbols or myths
    Alterations to content in recognition of different societal values, power dynamics, beliefs, and relationships
  • Changes to functional content such as date and time formats, weights and measures, or geographical references

Which Is the Best Solution?

Localization services can also provide direct translations of content. Translators do not generally offer localization services. If a business owner wants to use a specific piece of content to market to an overseas market, it’s better to choose a multimedia localization service than to translate the text, alone, which can create cultural misunderstandings. Reach out to a localization service to learn more.

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