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Localization: the most important service in a professional translation

La transcripción es el punto más importante de una traducción
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Localization is one of the most important processes within professional translation. However, it continues to be a rather unknown element for some companies. Therefore, we want to explain why it is going to determine the success or failure of a translation, and how exactly it is done.

What does localizing a translation involve?

Translation is a linguistic matter, a process in which we take a text from one language, and transfer it into another. The idea is to use equivalent terms or expressions, maintaining all sense and meaning of the original text. Localization however, is a bit different, since it involves a cultural knowledge of the target region.

Imagine the following example: your company sells different types of meat and wants to export them around the world. If we take pork for example, this isn’t consumed in Arabic cultures. In the same way, cows are sacred in India. Consequently, you cannot translate your posters, messages, or services for Paris, the same way you would for Sri Lanka. There are cultural differences that will affect the translation. So, in order to sell your meat in Morocco, the slogan “The best pork meat” would have to change to “The best lamb meat”, for example.

This is what localizing translations involves. It is a process that requires in-depth knowledge of the culture and customs of the target destination. The end goal is that the original intentions of the company are preserved, even if expressed using other words. Looking at the previous example, if your objective is to sell meat, the way of doing so is by offering products that the consumers can buy. This is why translations have to be adapted to the cultural habits of said regions.

What should be localized?

In general, a translation has to be done with the aim of localizing the text at a given point. Think again about the Arabic example. As it is read in the opposite direction to our language, the translator must be fully aware of this fact at all times. When preparing posters, it is fundamental to think about the spaces where adverts will be placed, or the type of document they are going to appear in.

Therefore, localizing can influence the following aspects:

  • Printed material. Business documents to brochures, posters, or offline advertising that the company carries out. Just look at the Arabic example to understand this point. As the text is read in the opposite direction to our written texts, the design of the printed material also has to be different.
  • Audio-visual content. Dubbing in corporate videos, series, contents etc. For example, care must be taken with the expressions used. Not all parts of the world are as equally permissive when it comes to certain jokes or tone.
  • Business websites or media outlets. With respect to India and the meat industry, it would make no sense to offer them beef. This example can be extrapolated to many others.
  • Video games or computer software. This is similar to audio-visual content.

What can an error in localization mean?

Advertising history is full of translations that were carried out without sufficient professionalism, resulting in a commercial failure for the company in a given territory. It is true that the digital world has made us more aware of the importance of international commerce. It has also meant that smaller companies have been able to access new markets. All of this has helped raise awareness of the importance of taking care of all aspects of translation. It is not a mere matter of language, but also one that is influenced by culture.

Localization and professional translation: two services that go hand-in-hand

The bottom line is that there can be no translation that, when transferring a message from one language to another, does not also take into account the existing cultural differences. This is particularly true when we leave our geographic location and come into contact with distant regions that are different to our own. In these cases, we have to understand their value system.

This is what professional translation agencies do. Not only do we strive for accuracy in translation, we also aim for suitability. It is a job that requires understanding the target culture, knowing the intentions of the original message, as well as the mechanisms used to achieve both objectives.

So, localization is a key process that any professional translation agency must be able to offer. If you want your texts to be transferred into another language whilst maintaining their original purpose, you will need to localize these messages correctly. At blarlo, we offer seamless, efficient work. Get in touch!

This post is also available in: Español (Spanish) Français (French) Nederlands (Dutch) Deutsch (German)