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What’s the Difference Between Translation and Localization Services?

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The Difference Between Translation and Localization Services


In the language services industry, the terms “translation” and “localization” get thrown around quite a bit. Though some may think the terms are interchangeable, there are actually some distinct differences between the two, and knowing the differences can help you determine which service is right for you. At Akorbi, we specialize in both translation and localization services. To give you a better understanding of our business, we’ve provided a basic overview of these services.

Translation Services

Translation services are pretty literal, meaning that content is translated word for word. This is often used for technical documentation, such as medical and legal documents. For example, if you want to translate a manual for a new piece of medical technology into Chinese, you would want the text to match up as precisely as possible. This ensures that people in China can figure out how to use the product without confusion.

Localization Services

Localization services take cultural norms into account. Instead of literally translating the content word for word, the language is adapted to fit the local culture you are trying to target. Typically, localization services are ideal for more informal, less technical documentation.

For example, idioms such as “raining cats and dogs” or “feeling under the weather” are full of cultural connotations. In the US, we understand the meaning of these phrases but they may not necessarily make sense when translated literally. If your company writes an informal blog post full puns, idioms, and humor, it may not make sense to someone in Brazil. When localizing your content, a translator takes cultural norms into account to transform your syntax into phrases that make sense to a Brazilian audience. The literal words are different, but the basic meaning is still there. Because cultural norms are taken into account, localization can be more time-consuming than translation.

Which is Right for Me?

Determining if you need translation or localization services truly depends on your content. If you are writing a step-by-step guide or a highly technical document, translation may work just fine. In most cases, localization is recommended. With translation, it is easy for the intent and meaning of your content to get lost. If you truly want to reach people in different parts of the world, your content should accommodate their cultural norms and practices.

Talk to an Expert at Akorbi

Can’t decide between translation and localization services? Akorbi can help. Since 2003, we have provided enterprise solutions that empower companies to achieve success in a global market, including translation, localization, and transcription. To learn more, contact us today.

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