Localization and translation are both tools that most businesses use when expanding. With the world becoming a global marketplace, these tools have become essential. And for any business to dream of breaking into new markets all over the world, they must use these tools.
While both tools are often used interchangeably, it’s important to know that they are not the same. If anything, there are some major differences between these two tools. Let’s break down some of these differences starting with the meanings.
What is Localization vs Translation
Translation is the changing of text from one language to another to give the same meaning. With translation, you get to say the same thing in different languages. These languages are often those which your target audience understands. Translation also takes into account the context of the languages. This helps avoid offensive or wrong direct translations.
The Localization Process
In contrast, localization involves changing the text. In localization, you have to change the entire source content for a new audience and culture. This means other than text, you’ll also need to change the visuals to suit the culture of the new audience. In a nutshell, with localization, you get to create new content for a new audience with the same messaging.
The similarities between these two tools can sometimes overlap. Let’s dig deeper and find out what other differences are aside from definitions.
Neutrality vs Focus on Cultural Aspects for the Target Language
Translation and localization have a different views of culture. Website translation is neutral to cultures while website localization relies more on culture. Translation for example focuses more on getting the exact message across to different audiences.
And translation does this without taking much consideration of the surrounding culture. As long as the context is right in the translated language your project is complete.
But website localization goes way beyond language. It focuses on the target market and its cultural differences and cultural expectations. This is because localized content adapts content for very specific regions. Unlike direct translation. This means that localization pros need an in-depth understanding of the new culture to compare it to their own language and culture. Localization services differ based on the target market and also take into account social norms, slang, etiquette, and humor too.
This is information that comes from having lived among or studying the people in that region. This is different from translation where what matters is in-depth knowledge of the language.
Technical vs Emotive Content in the Localization and Translation Industry
Website translation is better suited to passing technical information across different languages. This is because the information only needs to be correct in any language it’s translated into. But with localization, there’s a need to reach people and create a connection.
Most people who speak more than one language prefer to consume information in their first language. Think of a French person who speaks and understands English. This person is more likely to browse a website that’s in French rather than English. This is often the case even if their knowledge of English is perfect.
Localization transforms content into forms that are relatable to the target audience. It is what makes multilingual websites work because it includes cultural references from other languages. This makes it even easier for the said people to consume the content.
Focus on Language vs Region
Right from the definition it is obvious that translation is more about language. Translation serves the purpose of bridging language barriers. This helps a wider audience to understand the information in the right context. Translation also ensures that there are no errors in syntax that can change meanings.
Localization, from the word locale, is more about specific regions. Take the example of Coca Cola which is well known all over the world. In places like China, translation alone would have made it hard for people to accept the drink. This is why Coca-Cola had to localize and adapt its brand messaging for that audience. The end result of this localization is that in China what the rest of the world calls Coca Cola is ‘Kekou kele’. This translates into delicious happiness which is close to their previous slogan of ‘open happiness’.
This is the best example that shows the difference between localization and translation. But what if Coca-Cola translated its tagline into Chinese? Would the phrase ‘eat the wax tadpole’ have sold a single bottle of Coke? Your guess is as good as mine.
There are clear differences between localization and translation. Both tools can have different benefits for your business. But it’s important to know what works best in what context. This will help you to get your message across without shooting yourself in the foot.
First impressions are everything in marketing. If people look at your content and miss your message your business may never recover. This is why you should have a reliable provider of localization and translation services. This will ensure that all the content that you put out will get the right message across.
At Day Translations, we recognize that there’s no one-size-fits-all in advertising. This is more so if you’re targeting international audiences. This is why we have a team of dedicated translation and localization experts ready to help you. Reach out to us today if you’re in need of translation or localization services and we’ll be happy to help.