Difference Between Language Translation and Localization

In a business global, translation and localization are two terms which are interchangeably used. But they both  are distinct and have major differences.

Translation is the method of converting a source version of multimedia, software, web material, or documentation  to a target-language version by just replacing the words of one language to another. Unfortunately, it is notably a word-for-word swap. An accurate translation needs complete understanding of the source text and then converting it into the target language.

Localization (also abbreviated as L10n) is the process of modifying the original text to the linguistic and cultural systems of the target geo-linguistic area. This process should take into consideration technical standards, stylistic requirements, and the expectations and requirements of the target market. Web site localization comprises of the conversion of the text and the adjustment of the site’s graphical structure accordingly to the target language, the development of a parallel navigation structure to maintain each linguistic version in sync with the others, page formatting to support characters in the target language, image and graphics transforming with translation and adjustment to the linguistic and cultural features of the target language, and lastly the reprogramming of advanced scripting components (Java, Javascript, VisualBasic scripts, CGI/Perl/Php scripts, Flash/Shockwave applications, RealAudio files, etc.).

At the time of localizing, a translator (linguist or localization professional) will:

  • Modify the language by generating a linguistic equivalent, but not a literal (word-to-word) translation.
  • Determine color for cultural indications.
  • Modify telephone number formats.
  • Determine and change any icons or graphics which do not make sense in the target culture.

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Updated: October 29, 2015 — 7:31 am
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