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September 21, 2020By legaltranslationsGeneral

What is the Difference Between Localisation and Internationalisation?

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The terms localization & internationalization are often used as if they are interchangeable, but they do not mean exactly the same thing.

Localization is a process used for adapting a text so that it meets the cultural, legal, linguistic, date format, and any other element that allows it to fit in seamlessly in a location. Localization helps to sell a product in a different part of the world because its unique features have been adapted so they fit into the new environment.

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The process of localization is when any visible signs used for marketing a product that wouldn’t match with the new marketing environment are removed and other more relevant features are added. This could include changing the color of the packaging and ensuring any words are culturally appropriate. If localization is not completed the new customer may not see the use-value in buying the product. Successful localization helps to get products into the global market.

What is localization?

Localization is the process used to adapt a product, website, or piece of content for many cultures or areas so that it appears natural to the particular region. This involves translating the text as well as adapting images, symbols, and any other culturally specific element. It could also be going beyond the word-for-word translation and adapting some messages so that the correct meaning is conveyed and not the literal meaning. For example, business clichés such as “breaking down the barriers” or “picking low-hanging fruit” are quite easily understood when written in English but are likely not to make a lot of sense when they are translated into a different language.

What is internationalization?

It is so important that if any brand introduces a new product to the global marketplace it must consider globalization, localization, and internationalization well before the product is finally launched. This is not only to showcase both a clear and professional image of this new brand but also to prevent any confusion or even possibly embarrassment when having to deal with multi-national clients.

The term internationalization is basically referring to the development and design of a product that makes it easy to localize for a specific market. Localization is the actual process of adapting a product for a specific region. An internationalized product should be easy to localize and the process will be cheaper too.
Internationalization is generalizing a product so that it can be easily localized for different regions and cultures without the needing to redesign it. A website, for example, provides the framework needed for the design and content so as to ensure it will be easy for anybody to read. Internationalization takes into account the following factors.

  • It is able to support particular, time, date, and currency formats.
  • It ensures you can accommodate different fonts and characters.
  • It makes sure there is sufficient space available to accommodate the translated text which at times might be longer than the original text.
  • It provides a user interface that can adapt to reading from either right to left or left to right, which all depends on the particular language.
  • If you have developed a software application, website, or even a mobile app, and your intention is to sell it on the world market then localization helps to attain that goal.

Multicultural, multilingual, & formatting requirements in translations

Many multilingual audiences are nature multicultural but being different is not just about cultural features and languages. For example, other parts of the world stick to different formats such as time and date, currency, decimal usage, calendar months, etc. It is absolutely essential to consider these features before marketing products on a website that will be seen by people living with entirely different rules.

The use of symbols and icons

The use of symbols and icons need to be evaluated before a product is released to the international market. These must be thoroughly researched before they are used for a specific international market. For example, using a dragon may appear to be negative in western countries but in the East, they have positive connotations. If a symbol is used to market a product outside the culture it originated from this could lead to a poor customer response if the symbol has connotations that are not favorable for buying the product.

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