Lokalisatie en vertaling

What is localization?

In any quality translation, localization is an essential part of the translation process. Localization is much more than just word-for-word translation into another language, it means that a text is specifically tailored to not just the language, but the culture of the target audience.

For example, did you know that in China, people do not usually address each other by their first name? Or did you know that the OK sign (by making a circle with the thumb and index finger) is actually a rude gesture in some Latin-American countries? In the localization process, you provide fitting alternatives for things that have different or negative connotations in other cultures. This way, your organisation will exhibit a local flair, which helps to boost sales of your product. In other words, localization is important whenever your product goes abroad.

Three aspects of localization

When you localize a text, you need to keep three aspects in mind;

1. The functional aspect of localization

The functional aspect is especially important during website localization. It does not only concern the translation of your content (text, images, video and audio) but also to tailoring your content to the culture of your target audience.

For example, if you are based in the United States and you want to sell sneakers in The Netherlands, you need to keep specific things in mind, like in which currency you list your prices. Your Dutch customers would like to know how many euros their new sneakers will cost them, not dollars. In short, list prices in the currency of the country you want to do business with. Other things that can differ are the way:

  • the date and time are written;
  • units are measured, like centimeter and inch or Fahrenheit and Celsius;
  • contact information is written, as the notation of addresses and phone numbers may vary;
  • legal forms of an enterprise are called, for example, an American LLC is equivalent to a Dutch BV.

2. The cultural aspect of localization

Every country has its own customs and practices. If you do not adequately research the cultural localization aspect, you might inadvertently offend your target audience. This blog already mentioned the use of names and gestures, but cultural aspects can be much broader than that.

The cultural aspect is especially important during marketing localization. Marketing campaigns often use humor, creative use of language or recognizable situations. These things are very cultural-specific and therefore must be localized to be effective.

For example, if you wanted to sell your sneakers in Mexico as well, it would be good to know that in Mexico, yellow is the colour of mourning, before you started a marketing campaign for a yellow sneaker. Other things to consider are:

  • images;
  • symbols, humor and traditions;
  • political, economic and religious aspects;
  • laws, regulations and procedures.

3. The linguistic aspect of localization

“Your sneakers sell like hotcakes and you’re gonna sell them in The Netherlands too!” This expression is already impossible to translate literally, so you look for the Dutch equivalent for hotcakes. Other linguistic aspects you should remember:

  • spelling and grammar differences, like differences between British and American English;
  • connotations of words and expressions, what is the undertone or association in another language?;
  • decimals and the use of commas and periods; in English, decimals are denoted by a period, as in $29.95, while in Dutch this is done with a comma, as in €29,95;
  • terminology, like professional jargon;
  • tone of voice; during a translation, the writing style of any enterprise should be taken into account as well.

How does localization work at Verbal Vision?

At Verbal Vision, translation and localization go hand in hand. That’s why any translation project at Verbal Vision starts with an extensive briefing in which the target audience and the purpose of the text are discussed. We then start working on the text. We use all kinds of localization techniques in order to uniquely tailor the translation to the target language and culture. The result is a text that is not a word for word copy of the original, but instead has the correct content and style in order to appeal to the target audience.

Are you looking for a translation agency that can help you translate and localize NL-EN or EN-NL? Contact Verbal Vision to discuss the options.


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