Have you ever actually sat down and thought about some of the idiomatic phrases found in the English language? Some of them are pretty strange. Take “an arm and a leg,” for example. We all recognize it as the describing it as costliness of something, but for those unfamiliar with our language, it might conjure horrifying images of literal, disembodied limbs. Or, it might convey an inherent danger in a purchase where there is none.
Straight translation from one language to another is not always sufficient for transmitting the proper meaning. When doing so, we often ignore the nuances of dialect and cultural differences, which can result in grave misunderstandings. This is why localization services are so important for translation.
Localization Boosts International Marketing Efforts
When preparing language, ideas, and products for a global market, companies turn to a localization company for assistance. The difference between localization and translation is small but significant. For example, when adapting a document or product to a different language, localization could affect something as big as an idiom (as we mentioned in the first paragraph) to something as innocuous as changing the format of how an address is written. Or perhaps there is a mention of currency in said document—a localization service would translate that to the appropriate currency, as well as adjust for exchange rate.
As our society becomes increasingly global, the importance of streamlining content and presenting it for global consumption cannot be overstated. Just as important, however, is maintaining tone, dialect and intent across all boundaries. It’s too easy for a translation to come off sounding like a robot. Localization services can be used to uphold a conversational and personalized tone. Or on the other hand, it can be used to mitigate words and phrases that could potentially be offensive to different cultures, despite their original, innocuous intent.
Website localization is one of the most popular forms of localization, given the ease in which sites are visited from any area of the world. However, companies have been utilizing localization in one form or another even before the internet. For example, Gerber has to modify their packaging for countries that regularly show the ingredients of the food on the packaging. Imagine the horror of someone picking up a jar of baby food and seeing a cute baby’s face on the packaging! That’s an example of how localization benefits the translated material while remaining sensitive to different cultures.
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