The difference between translation and localization

Translation and localization are concepts that are closely related but their meanings and scope are completely different. Each specialty applies different cultural and functional techniques. Given the importance and interconnectedness between both terms, it is normal for you to perhaps not be able to know when one is a better option than the other. Keep reading to find out what each one is all about.

The difference between translation and localization

When we speak about translation, we are speaking about transcribing a written text from one language to another target language (without taking into account the culture, customs, and common phrases of the target audience). That is to say, in transaction, the professional’s skills only have to do with his or her linguistic knowledge.

Nevertheless, when we make reference to localization, we value not only the equivalence of words or phrases to yield the same meaning in different languages but also the content itself, which is adjusted to the particular needs of the audience that the text is directed towards. In other words, the necessary modifications are made in the contents, without them loosing their original meaning, in order for the text to be more commercial and impactful for a specific market.

In the case of localization, you must remember that the skills of the team of professionals or of the translation agency go beyond mere translation. The team assigned must be able to correctly interpret the culture and the needs and interests of the target market in order to correctly adapt the contents and let the information offered be relevant for the new audience.

When is translation used and when is localization used?

Localization is a concept that is quite tied to digital marketing and to the development of the videogame or software industry. In the first of the cases, if you have to show the contents available on your website to an audience from a specific country, localization will allow you to stir up in the new audience the same emotions that came to be for the audience that the contents were created for in the first place.

Therefore, if you want to enter into or gain a foothold in a new market, it is a good idea for you to localize your content. This means that you have to do a preliminary analysis of the contents and even undertake modifications to the visual contents, as well as changes in the structure or the way in which things are done on the page. 

Translation, on the other hand, is quite useful if you need to get an identical document or a document that is equivalent to the original but in another language. In these cases, the structure and contents of the original document are respected. Therefore, the resulting document does not have any significant variations or theme modifications. In general, the information provided is understandable for anyone who knows the target language. 

In short, translation and localization are specializations that are necessary to expand towards other markets. In both cases, the specialized services of a translation company like ours are needed — a company that has professionals who have mastered the source and target languages and who are familiar with the cultural aspects and needs of the customers that you wish to win over. Get a no-strings-attached quote!


This post is also available in: Español (Spanish)