Translation versus Localization – What’s the Difference?

If you’re new to translations, you may hear the term localization bandied about. Perhaps you’ve called a translation services provider and explained your project needs, and they launch into a description of the ways in which they’ll localize your files.

You’re a clinician. References to translation and localization have wholly different meanings in your world. So, what’s the difference?  Simply stated, translation is the process of changing words from one language to another.  If you need a document translated from English to German, that’s known as translation.  Localization is more like cultural adaptation. Beyond the primary meaning, localization also addresses norms and style that are familiar to the local population.  Date formats are a classic example because they can be a major source of confusion between Americans and other nationalities: at best they are a headache, at worst they introduce patient risk, especially with respect to software localization on medical devices and applications.

Other terms include internationalization, which refers to the upstream process of planning to ensure content can be translated or localized without disrupting functionality. All of these activities can be couched within a larger framework known as globalization, which represents the way that people, company, and governments interact around the globe. If you’d like to learn more, contact Idem today for a free consultation. We’d be happy to help!

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