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Top Major Differences Between Translation And Localization

If you are running a business, you must have entertained the thought at some point in time of expanding your venture abroad. To expand your business abroad, you will have to make a decision about whether to obtain translation services and localization services for your business. Yes, translation and localization are different processes and not just slick terms used by people in the language services industry. The question is, what are the major differences between translation services and localization services and which services are right for your business?

Drawing The Line Between Translation Services And Localization Services

Most people have a pretty accurate idea of what translation services entail. Translation services simply involve changing the source language version of a product (such as documentation, multimedia, web material, and software) into a target language version. Localization services, on the other hand, entail taking the translated product (in the target language version) and adapting it for regional or local consumption. Cultural adaptation for specific countries, groups, and regions (the target audience) is at the core of localization services. Other differences between translation and localization include:-

  1. When localizing, a translator will change any icons or graphics that do not make sense to the target audience while the same translator will not pay attention to this when translating.
  2. When localizing, a translator will change the time, date and other measurements to suit the culture of the target audience while the same translator will overlook this when translating.
  3. Telephone number formats are often altered to suit the target audience during localization whereas the telephone number formats of the source products are often maintained during translation.
  4.  During localization, the language is adapted into a linguistic equivalent of the target audience whereas during translation the language is adapted into a literal equivalent.
  5. When localizing, the translator will focus on the societal values, power, relationships, and beliefs while the same translator will overlook these when translating.

Should You Choose Localization Services Or Translation Services For Your Business?

It should now have dawned on you that localization services generally involve more work than translation services and would, therefore, come at a premium. Several statistics indicate that localization services help businesses to achieve more sales, cater to more clients, to reduce image risks, to save time and money and to increase your returns on investment. Localization services, however, do not come cheap. Before opting for localization services over translation services, you need to make a preliminary assessment. The following checklist will help you in this preliminary assessment:-

  1. Regulation of your business- If your business is in an industry that is under heavy regulation in a particular target market, you need to focus on getting localization services and not translation services as you will gain from a better legal and technical understanding.
  2. Understandability of your business to your target audience- If your product or service is well understood by your target audience, translation services are more appropriate for you. If on the other hand your product or service is rather alien to your target audience, you need to heavily invest in localization services.
  3. Common branding of a range of products- If your business sells a range of products under a common brand, the marketing messages of all your products need to be unified and consistent. Any mishaps could have a major irreversible impact on your brand image. In such a case you have no choice but to opt for localization services over translation services.
  4. Marketing budget and goals- If you have a robust marketing budget and pursue ambitious marketing goals, localization services are more likely to help you maximize your ROI compared to translation services.

You can only enjoy all the benefits of translation and localization services if you settle with the right partner that offers these services. Contentech is a world-class provider of translation services and localization services that has been in the industry for the past 18 years. Contentech has a talented and ISO Certified production team complete with elite in-house translators, language experts, and engineers to serve you. We at Contentech have successfully delivered huge projects for Caterpillar, Microsoft, Toshiba, Nokia, Cisco and EA Sports just to mention a few. To learn about partnering with Contentech, drop us an email at

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