Don't just translate, localize.

by Alexa Tan
2 Minute Read

5 min read

Screen Shot 2018-10-23 at 10.53.38 PM

When thinking about global expansion for your business, consider this: 80% of the world’s population doesn’t speak English. In order to communicate effectively with locals around the world, you need to speak their language; go beyond translating your content and materials word-for-word and instead, localize. There's a difference.

Translation is the process of translating words or text from one language into another. Localization, on the other hand, is the process of making something local in character or restricting it to a particular place.

The goal of translation is to make words and phrases understandable in other languages. For example, let’s say you’re in the grocery store, and you’ve decided to buy a tub of strawberry gelato. You make your way to the frozen desserts aisle, each freezer lined with dozens of flavors, only to realize that all of the flavors are listed in Italian: Cioccolato, Fragola or Stracciatella and so on. Here’s when translation comes in handy – you pull out your phone do a quick word search and figure out, ‘Strawberry Gelato’ translates to Gelato Fragola in Italian. You take that tub out of the freezer, check it off of your grocery list and move on.

When it comes to localization, you don’t stop at making words understandable, but rather, you go on to make words and phrases relatable. Translation is just a small part of the entire localization process. Think of it as having a casual conversation with a friend, who happens to speak a different language. There are number of things to consider when conversing with someone in their native language: contextual and linguistic peculiarities, and even more so, nuance, humor, idioms and prose. Casual conversations with friends are meant to be intimate, thoughtful and put simply, easy. Sure, basic translations can get you mostly there, but localization goes that extra mile in making dialogue between the two of you deeply personal.

In truth, localization enables so much about the human experience; it transcends mere comprehension and affords brands and companies the opportunity to connect with customers on a profound level. Yes, we sometimes buy things on the basis of features and qualifications, but we also buy things that move us, and tell us a story. Feeling is such a huge part of the selling process and localization makes sure to relay that value to your customers all over the world.

Lilt Labs Blog Subscribe Call-to-Action Button

Make Site Multidirectional

Are You Thinking Beyond Left-to-Right? Here's How to Make Your Site Multidirectional.

7 Minute Read

  Much of the Internet is in English, and many American web developers rarely think beyond languages like French or Spanish when it comes to internationalization. From a development perspective, such languages function more or less like English, and so the general structure of the webpages tends to assume a layout based on your average book or magazine, with its left-to-right procession of text down the page. Here's the problem: languages with different writing systems exist, and the Internet isn’t just for English speakers. If you're serious about making your content accessible to a global audience, right-to-left functionality is imperative. Here's how you can go about making your website amenable to global compositional structure.

Read More
green-chameleon-21532-unsplash

When it comes to working with translators, don’t settle.

3 Minute Read

5 min read If you’re preparing to bring your company into a new market somewhere across the globe, you need to make sure that all of your customer-facing materials are localized for your new audience. The first time you localize, you’ll probably realize that there’s a lot of material that needs translating! From marketing collateral, to web page design, legal contracts and even customer support teams you’re bound to have your hands full. But fear not! We’re letting you in on one of the greatest shortcuts to localization: work with translators who are experts in your domain.

Read More