Difference Between Translation and Localization

Adapting translations for local markets.

Sometimes we are asked for translation when the client actually needs localization instead.

Translation and localization are very different and it’s important to understand the differences before you proceed with a quote. So what’s the difference between translation and localization then?

Professional Translation

Professional translation is when a human translator produces a true and accurate representation of your source (typically English) text into another language. For example, I might translate your text from English into French.

The key point here is that as a translation it must reflect the content and style of the English document. If your English text is verbose and unstyled, your French text will be the same. In the same light, if your text is punched and to the point the French will be the same. A professional translation must always be true to the original. So the quality of your translation starts with the quality of your English document. The clearer your English document is, the clearer your French document will be after translation.

IT & Localization Translation

What is Localization?

Sometimes customers need localization work done on their documents which is different from just a translation. For localization, another process is added where the translator will change or modify the text to adapt it to the local market. This local language text modification is “localization“.

You will sometimes come across this in brochures where a customer has requested us to modify the text to make it better for a local market. Dialect is also taken into account for specific target markets. This is almost like copywriting. Often new text has to be inserted, thus localization is more expensive than translation. The document has to be first translated then localized before final proofreading takes place.