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Translate or Localize?

When you decide to turn your product multilingual, you most likely face a question: how does localization differ from translation? We will now understand what these two terms have in common and how they are different.

Localization (from Latinlocus” (place) and the English term “locale”- a place where something happens or is set) is translation and adaptation of a product or service for a specific country, region or culture. The Localization Industry Standards Association defines Localization as “taking a product and making it linguistically and culturally appropriate to the target locale (country/region and language) where it will be used and sold”.

The process of localization can include translation of local currency, date formats, addresses, telephone numbers, measurements and many other aspects. The localization process can be carried out for the regions or countries where people speak different languages or the same language. Let’s just recall the linguistic difference in countries where English is the official language, such as USA and UK.

Translation is the process of communicating the meaning of the text of one language (the source) into an equivalent target language text.[1] A proper translation requires deep knowledge in such complex fields as technology, software, science, medicine, law, finance, business, philosophy, music and many others through immersion in multiple information sources. It is a challenge, just like writing, that also includes finding the right words and compliance with norms of speech of the target language.

These two processes are complementary, in other words, localization can’t go without translation and vice versa. Still and all, it is useful to know how both of them work.


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