Website translation and localization are two well known words in the world wide web, widely used, but their meaning is not too easy to understand. With the common sense it can be deduced that the localization includes a reference to something near, local and translation refers to convert a content in one language into one another. Yet, the word localization is repeatedly used within the same context of globalization that has a strong meaning of something global or universal.
So, What Does Website Localization and Translation Really Mean?
Website localization is more than translation. Translation and localization are easy to confuse. At the terminological level, they are actually very similar to each other, but a closer look reveals some clear differences.
To clarify the main difference, let’s define website translation as the function of substituting words in text from one language to another. This is a fairly rigid definition and I know there are other opinions as well. In any case, if we stick to this definition, translation is the product of the mechanical replacement work of the word or phrase. In fact, this is basically what most machine translators do.
For exampe, with corporate translation services, we don’t look just for a simple translation of some content, we must consider the company culture, the target audience, the perception this company wants to have on social media marketing, the grammatical structures and the target languages – all of these are involved when you need to translate corporate materials.
Localization is less than rewriting. Translators are evolving towards a more localized approach. Localization is basically a sophisticated translation with the idea of rewriting the message with another language. If the task is to locate something, you should have excellent language skills and knowledge of the cultural level.
Let’s give an example. In English, it’s normal to say “you” to an unknown, but for example in Italian “tu” (which is, “you”) is not in line with general habits and being polite. However, localization does not mean that the entire text should be rewritten. There are always parts of text that can simply be translated without any major consideration in most localization projects.
As a conclusion, localization is like translation but with a cultural footprint and an attribute of rewrite. Localization can be linked to globalization in the sense that successful globalization can be based on a skillful localization.
Sounds complicated, right? Let’s give an example. A company wants to globalize its business, which means they want to do business also outside their country. To accomplish it, they decide to start exporting their product to a particular country. If the product is a processed item, it probably has a package or product description or at least one brand. This kind of information material should be located properly so that all potential customers can understand why they should buy the product. According to the product, local legislation may also require the firm to carry out these localization actions. If the company decide to invest in technical translation services, it could greatly improves the chances of succeeding on a foreign market.
“Think global, act locally“, as they say in business.