Localisation or translation:
What is worthwhile for companies?

Florian Mayerhoffer I 24.03.2022 I Übersetzungen
- Reading time: 6min -

When companies want to enter new markets, they have to adapt to different cultural conditions depending on the target country. Not only is it important to understand the culture, customs and traditions, but also to adapt products and content. Especially with flagships like the website, this is often imperative. After all, the text has to be not only translated, but also adapted to the inhabitants, traditions and language of the target country. Localisation combines all of this.


What makes a good localisation?

And why should you prefer localisation to translation?
We at lingoking would like to provide a brief overview of the two methods and of what companies need to bear in mind when entering new markets.

What is the difference between localisation and translation?
What is adapted during localisation?
Why should companies have texts localised?
When is translation enough?
How localisation in the target language works

What is the difference between localisation and translation?

The terms localisation and translation are often confused or equated. They are not synonyms, but two different activities that are mutually dependent and build on each other. Both have the same goal: to convey a certain fact to the customer abroad in the local language. However, what is often neglected when opening up new markets are the cultural features or linguistic peculiarities. The best example is English: British English is sometimes very different from American English. Then there are the cultural differences. Therefore, a distinction is made between classical translation and localisation:

  • Translation:
    In classical translation, the source text is translated directly into the respective national language. In the process, it is translated into the target language true to word and context and thus remains unchanged. The focus in translations is on the correct reproduction of facts from the original text, without taking local peculiarities into account.

  • Localisation:
    Localisation builds on translation and goes one step further. Not only is the information of the source text translated into the local language, but the cultural and ethnic backgrounds of the target group are also taken into consideration. The advantage: Texts are adapted to the specific characteristics in terms of language and content in order to be understood correctly in the target country. Readers there can thus identify more strongly with the company and build trust in the brand. This is especially important for SEO translations!

What is adapted during localisation?

In order to ensure the problem-free comprehension of a translated text, the following factors should be taken into account:

Technical quantities that are adjusted during localisation

Illustration: Frau am Computer
  • Time & date formats (order of day, month, year; 12- or 24-hour format)
  • Units of measurement (centimetre, inch, pound, kilo, etc.)
  • Clothes sizes
  • Currency units
  • Temperaturen (Celsius & Fahrenheit)

Cultural norms that are adapted during localisation

Frau am Computer
  • Cultural norms & customs (traditions)
  • Product names & their meanings
  • Symbols, characters & colours
  • Deviating legal provisions (ingredients, expressions, advertising claims)
  • Religious traditions (drinking and eating habits, holidays)

Why should companies have texts localised?

Localisation or translation? This depends very much on the purpose of the text. Website texts about products and services should convey one thing above all: emotions! The reader’s interest in the company and brand should be piqued and they should be won over by a successful text. If there are language barriers such as unfamiliar words or wrong expressions in the text, consumers do not feel understood. This is a stumbling block for them and they don't bond as strongly emotionally as they would if the text was entirely in their mother tongue.

If, on the other hand, a text features terms or sayings typical of the country, the reading flow improves and texts are not perceived as mere translations. This allows the message of the text to reach the readers unhindered. Therefore, marketing translations for the website, press material or blog posts in content marketing should definitely be adapted to local conditions.

When is a translation enough?

Localisation is not always absolutely necessary. When a company expands into a common market such as the European Union, there is already a common cultural framework. Here, many customs are similar. Texts are therefore usually easier to translate. Even if companies expand their website to include another language, a translation may be sufficient. The classic example here is Switzerland: it has a common sales market and cultural framework, but has several official languages.

Service providers, institutions or authorities do not necessarily have to transfer their content into another language with a localisation. Law firms, for example, offer the same service in different languages in a common cultural environment. Here, only generally valid information for the same target group is transferred into different languages. The focus is clearly on information.

How localisation in the target language works

If you want to localise website texts or content marketing articles for your company, make sure it is done by a qualified professional translator. A native speaker from the respective target country who has a good command of the local cultural conditions and local linguistic expressions is best suited here.

Therefore, always use a professional translation service provider to convey your message to the target audience in the target country. At lingoking, you receive fast and reliable localisations as well as translations that live up to this claim.

About the author

@Nina Nguyen | Global Content Manager, lingoking

As is unmistakable by my surname, I have Vietnamese roots, but I grew up in a beautiful small town in Lower Franconia (hint: famous for the "battle keys"). Since my school days, I have been passionate about the languages of this world and the different cultures that enrich us. With my experiences from my studies and in the professional field of translation, localisation, transcreation and content, I work in the marketing team of lingoking to introduce the world of lingoking beyond national borders and to inspire companies as well as each individual with our platform.

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