The terminology translation and localisation is often used interchangeably with many people being unaware that they are different. It is important to understand the difference and when is the right time to choose one over the latter. Translation is the process of rendering text from one language into another so that the meaning is equivalent. While localisation involves adapting the text, visual, technological and other non-textual components while taking local cultural aspects into consideration
What Is Translation?
Translation is the transmission of written text from one language (source language) into another (target language). A translator must take into consideration the context, grammar rules, writing conventions, and idioms. This is why simple word-for-word translation often fails. Translation is widely used by individuals and businesses for many different purposes including medical translation, document translation, legal translation and migration translation.
What Does Translation Include?
Translation involves converting the written word from one language into another while ensuring it’s linguistically appropriate. This means making sure that the grammar and vocabulary of the translated information align with the original document. Translation is the perfect solution for tasks related to solely translating information and is the starting point in the localisation process. However, wouldn’t be suitable for mediums such as websites, where local adaptation is required.
What Is Localisation?
Localisation is more expansive than translation and takes into account many other factors beyond linguistics. While it starts with translation, it then involves adapting factors such as images, layouts, format and metrics to ensure that the content makes sense to the target audience. Localisation focuses on adapting the overall experience than solely on the message.
What Does Localisation Include
Localisation will begin with translation and then extend into adapting other factors so the content becomes fully local. Localisation will include the following:
Images and Graphics
If you are developing a new store website for the USA market but currently feature Australian models. You would want to change it to models that are reflective of the country’s demographics.
Date And Time Formats
When adapting a website or information, it is important to ensure that the date and time formats are adapted to the target country’s format. For example, 01.02.22 means the 1st of February in Australia, but the 2nd of January in the USA. As for the time, the 12-hour system is mainly used in the USA, Canada and Australia, while in the UK and Europe they mainly use the 24-hour format.
International websites that show prices will often have the option to select the currency, which will also change the amount shown For example, if you are targeting the UK, you should be displaying Sterling Pound while in Australia, you want should be displaying the Australian Dollar.
Spelling, grammar and functional content will need to be changed based on your location. For example, changing ‘favorite’ (American) into ‘favourite’ (Australian). Functional content refers to phone numbers, measurement metrics, legal terminology and geographical references. It is also important to localise cultural content such as beliefs, societal codes, and humour.
The Difference Between Translation & Localisation
Localisation focuses on changing content and elements so that the target audience finds the information relatable and familiar. It makes them think that the information or medium was created specifically for them. It covers linguistics, images, colours, geography, slang, humour and everything beyond the transmission of the text from a source to a target language.
Should I Choose Translation Or Localisation?
If you are looking and comparing whether translation or localisation is more suitable for your project, think about the project’s purpose. If you are looking to simply translate a document’s information from one language to another, all you need is translation. If you are looking to serve the information to people in a different language, localisation may be more suitable.
Now that we have highlighted the differences between translation and localisation, it should be clear which service you need to look for. If you are not certain whether you need a translation or localisation, contact us and let us help you with your translation or localisation project.