What is the difference between Localization and Translation?


Billions of people living on earth are potential customers of your company. It’s important to communicate with customers around the world in a way that is easy for them to understand you and respond back.
The language industry is dedicated to facilitating multilingual communication, both oral and written. It includes the activities of translation, interpreting, subtitling and dubbing, software and website globalization, language technology tools development, international conference organization, language teaching, and linguistic consultancy.
Translation vs Localization
Translation is considered converting content into different languages, making sure of using the appropriate language to the context and the text is error-free. For example, if a country that is bilingual such as Switzerland, you have to have four different website versions: French, German, Italian and Romansh, considering the language context. In translation, the look and feel of the different website versions are identical. Meanwhile, localization is a deeper and more involved process. It goes beyond translating your content into another language. Localization makes an application or website culturally relevant and appropriate to the target audience or locale. This simply includes adapting a product or service to the cultural, linguistic, technical requirements and preferences, and communication style of a specific country or a locale.
Translation is changing the language while localization is a comprehensive adaptation process.

Translation vs Localization
considers converting content to different languages, making sure of using language appropriate to the context and error-free.
Localization: is a long process of customization and adaption that is done to a product or software for an international customer in a specific target market so when they use it, they form the impression that was designed by a native of their own country.

Let’s get deep into Translation
Are you a translator? Maybe. Or have you ever translated a word on Google Translate? Of course, you have!
In translation, what you actually do is convert the written words of a source language into the written words of a target language and that’s it! A word may have more than one meaning, but according to the context, you adjust your phrase.
Translation Process
- Project scope, goals and resources assessment.
- Reviewing the existing written and visual content.
- Creating a glossary and style guide.
- Preparing translation files.
- Translating and editing content.
- Proofreading and spelling check. 

A translator should have a complete comprehension of the original text to convert it into the target language without missing the meaning. Thus, there are some skills a translator needs to acquire:
1. Listening Skills
It may seem odd, but being a good listener is a crucial skill for being a good translator. During working hours or usual daily activities, you can practice your listening skills, as that will not only help you with your translation capabilities, but also will benefit your relationships and communication skills on the long run.
2. Writing Skills
Some people assume that writing is not a skill but a talent, but that’s not entirely true. Writing is a skill that can be learned and developed by time. With listening and reading a lot, you will have the vocabulary and be familiar with the language and its native context. You may start with writing your journals or start a personal blog for whatever topic you’re interested in. It helps.
3. Cultural Intelligence
Each country whether it has the main language or multiple languages has its own culture. To melt the cultural language and country barriers, a translator should be familiar with the language and country cultures he/she is targeting. When you study a language, you probably learn about the cultural barriers, but unfortunately, cultural intelligence is not something taught in a dictionary, it’s acquired with practice, listening and reading.
4. Specialist Knowledge
As a translator, being specialized in one field is a smart move. This will let you get in-depth with your area and have the expertise in it. The fields vary among IT and software, websites, eBooks, eLearning, videogames, legal documents, medical translation, etc.
5. Observation
Attention is a deal-breaker here. A translator should pay attention to what people are saying and how they say it, especially native speakers. Traveling, watching TV shows and movies, reading books and blogs, would develop your observation skills.
6. Computer Skills
Since everything is computerized now, whether in files, websites or applications, a translator needs to improve his/her computer skills, especially CAT tools (Computer Aided Translation tools) such as: Trados, MemoQ, CATALYST, Passolo.
7. Time Management
Time is money, and as translators usually work from home as freelancers, being organized is a must. Following a detailed working schedule will make you more comfortable and help master your time.
There’s another term that is commonly used in the language industry which is “Interpreting”. An interpreter translates orally, while a translator converts a written text to another language.
Localization: History, Definition, Tips
Localization History
The localization trend started in the ’80s where companies were developing software they wanted to sell internationally. They wanted their products to adapt to a very specific audience and locale so they came up with the term “Localization”. From then on, it grew and became much bigger than just translation because companies were looking for adapting designs, images, colors, linguistic requirements, whether users write from right to left or from left to right, so translation is one step of the process. Since then, the companies which offer these kinds of services are known as LSP’s: Language Service Providers.
Localization Definition
In the language industry, Localization is referred to as “L10n”. It includes the translation step for sure, but that’s only one aspect!
Localization is a long process of customization and adaption that is done to a product or software for an international customer in a specific target market so when they use it, they form the impression that was designed by a native of their own country. A full localization process considers language, cultural aspects like idioms, dialects, religion, cultural practices, local beliefs, customs, traditions and characteristics of the targeted locale. It frequently involves changes to the software's writing system and may change keyboard use and fonts as well as date and time.
Localization may also include:
- Multimedia adaption (including photography, videos, audio, etc.)
- Modifying content according to consumers’ preferences and habits.
- Adjusting design and layout according to the translated content.
- Sometimes you need to mirror photos but not others, like in the localization to a country that uses bi-directional language.
- Adapting the numeral system and local formats for phone numbers, addresses, dates and hours.
- Considering legal requirements and regulations.

Tips for Localization:
  1. Know first if your business has the potential to succeed in the targeted area by doing good research.
  2. Stay competitive and adjust your offerings according to local customers’ preferences and buying behavior.
  3. Understand local laws and regulations for any forbidden or allowed issues to consider relating to advertising, product design, usage, colors, etc.
  4. Don’t translate everything at once, instead, prioritize your business-critical content adaption or translation.
  5. Check for your options for translation like a human and post-edited machine translation (hybrid translation); crowdsourced linguists, or existing multilingual staff.
    Your project may involve four or five languages, resulting a challenge in project management and quality assurance. Finding the right professional Language Service Provider (LSP) makes this process easier, faster and cost-saving.
  6. Familiarize yourself with the translation process mentioned above, so you can follow up with the translation agency or LSP.
Your Localization vendor should be:
- Highly experienced, accredited and has already helped businesses localize their projects successfully.
- Familiar with different cultures to make your plans fit the targeted locales.
- Developing techniques and technologies to ease the quality assurance process.

Now that you know the differences between Localization and Translation, you could decide what is suitable for your business model and marketing strategy. You can check our services at Saudisoft. We can definitely help you with implementing your localization plans!