Translation vs. Localisation, What’s the Best Choice for Your Business?
Most people don’t realise the difference between the terms “translation” and “localisation”. If you don’t either… don’t worry, we are here to help you ! These two words are often used interchangeably. Even if they deal with the same subject, they are distinct. In order for your business to be as efficient and profitable as possible, these things are highly important. For instance, if entering a new market, it’s essential to know how to speak to people from a cultural as well as a linguistic perspective, which we will take a look at. For all this, we must consider and understand what makes translation and localisation different in a business setting. Let’s find out more….
1. What is translation?
Translation can be described as the process of taking information or text in the original or source language and converting it into another… but doing so better than Google Translate’s bogus word-for-word concoctions, obviously! Vocabulary has to be carefully chosen in order to ensure that content is translated as accurately as possible. The important thing is that the meaning and the sense of what is being described is maintained and expressed as closely to the original as possible . Idioms and cultural references are notoriously difficult, meaning a professional translator will have to search for the best way to change an expression from one language to another, especially if the expression doesn’t exist in the second language in quite the same way. For example, the direct translation of “It’s raining cats and dogs!” in French would be “Il pleut des chiens et des chats!”, which makes literally no sense in French… The equivalent in French would be: “Merde! Il pleut comme vache qui pisse”, meaning “Shit! It’s raining like a cow pissing”… which obviously makes more sense, no?
2. So what is localisation then?!
Localisation is about more than merely linguistic but also cultural adaptation from one language to another, making a text better suited to an audience in another region or country where a different language is spoken. Localisation is thus of utmost importance in business, and particularly in the fields of communications, marketing and sales. The translator has to be aware of the socio-cultural differences that exist between regions, countries and language communities for which they may be adapting a text. The goal is that the reader feels as if the text were originally written in their their own language and that it was targeted towards their culture. It has to be relevant to the reader (or more importantly, to the target market the reader represents). Even in countries where the same language is spoken, expressions, spelling, pronunciation and idioms are sometimes quite different. You can’t use exactly exactly the same English for the US market as you would in England for example, and as for Scotland and Northern Ireland, well you just try understanding what the hell they’re saying most of the time, because I am often left none the wiser! Again, as an example, we could take the world “damn”… Even if it exists in both the US and the UK, it it can be considered offensive in the US when used in certain contexts, whereas it is more or less totally acceptable in the UK. Localisation is ultimately a way of internationalising your ideas or your brand without risking embarrassing communication errors that could leave you with egg on your face.
3. In Conclusion
Even with a good translator, with a translation you can’t necessarily convey all of the cultural and vernacular meaning in quite as efficient a manner as with localisation. A translation gets across the sense and meaning of a text as accurately as possible and maintains it as closely as possible to the original. Localisation, on the other hand, adapts your communication in a more “strategic” way in a bid to meet its end goal: evoking the same sensantions or feeling in a reader or consumer. Localisation focuses on one other major element. If your business is going to launch internationally, it helps you adapt the style of your website or content to local customs, modes of expression and cultural specificities. There are a multitude of minute details that need to be taken into account that may at first appear superfluous, but which are actually really important. Cultural references, ways of describing the time, the format that the date takes are just some examples of things that need to be taking into consideration when communicating in a new language. Localisation’s role is to pick up on these too and ensure that your foreign-language communication reflects your brand as accurately as in your own language.
Do you think localisation is a good solution for the company that want to expand their business globally?