(Translated from Spanish by our interns.)
One of the services we provide in Translation Boutique is localization, and it is definitely the service that raises more questions, especially to those outside the translation sector. What is localization? Is it the same as translation? When we talk about localization we refer to software, web pages and videogames translation. Localization might seem the same as traditional translation (translation between pair languages such as English, German, Portuguese, French…). However, the translation process presents some differences.
For a better understanding, LISA (2003:3) provides a more extensive explanation in its Localization Industry Primer:
But what is localization? For far too many people localization is still ‘just another linguistic process.’ Far from it! Localization is the process of adapting and manufacturing a product so that it has the look and feel of a nationally-manufactured piece of goods. Thus localization is the piece of the global business puzzle that enables companies to do business in markets outside of their home market.
This definition suggests two new concepts: internationalization and globalization. Internationalization is a previous step from translation. It refers to the process of neutralizing a product, that is, to ensure that the product can be easily adjusted to different markets. On the other hand, globalization is the process of making all the necessary adaptations of said product so it is available in as many markets as possible. We must be careful with this last term and not to give it economical connotations.
Let’s make it easier to understand. Imagine a multinational company wants to launch a new product. First, they need to plan the process of production in a way that makes the product suitable for different markets. Then, they develop the product according to the previously established plan. This means that, in order to localize a product, it has to be internationalized according to the technical requirements.
Localization is often used for videogames, web pages and software. The main challenges for translators in localization are the space limitation ─e.g. Spanish texts tend to be a 20% longer than English texts─, and cultural adaptations.
Is it any clearer now what we are talking about when we talk about localization? 😉
Greetings from the team!
Davinia Albert for TB
Translation Boutique, tailor-made linguistic services