What is localization in the world of translation?

Published on 14/04/2020

Everyone knows what translation is, but have you heard of localization? Localization responds to specific needs, so it is the most complete version of the translation. What is localization in translation and how can it be useful for your company?

1. General definition

Localization in translation consists of adapting the translated text to the geographical area of the target audience. This area can be a country, a region, a city, etc.

General definition

Adaptation is done at all levels so that the text is familiar and can be immediately understood by the target audience. The location can be done in terms of:

  • Cultural references
  • Colours and images used
  • Local Slang
  • Adaptation of dates, times, currencies or units of measure
  • Local news
  • Etc.

1.1. Specific skills for the translator

In order to carry out localization in translation, the translator must have a series of complementary skills compared to a classic and general translation. In fact, it is not enough to have learned a foreign language at university. Localization requires a deep knowledge of the culture, linguistic expressions or even the way of life of the inhabitants of the source and target audience.

Linguistic expressions

This knowledge can sometimes be very specific, for example, when we go to a particular city in a foreign country. As a rule, a translator whose mother tongue is the target language is used. For example, for a translation from Spanish to British English, the translator chosen will be a professional whose mother tongue is British English.

However, it may not be enough. To take our example, the British translator, originally from the Norfolk region, may not have sufficient knowledge to deal with a translation aimed at the Durham region.


In order to achieve quality localization, the choice of the translator plays an essential role in these cases. You must at the same time be specialised in the text in question (general, technical, commercial, etc.) and have the necessary skills to carry out the localisation in terms of the target audience.

2. Does your company need localization for its translations?

Location is very useful for companies seeking to conquer new markets. Reflect the culture of the region or the target country, translate the text according to the local dialect, customize the offer of products and services, create specific promotions, create events that correspond to the national holidays of the target country, etc. There are numerous fields of application.

Legal field

In the legal field, location can also be of great help if you need to adapt to local legislation. One of the consequences of globalization is the constant and prolonged increase of localization in the field of translation, to the point where it is practically integrated.

However, localisation is not always useful, as it will depend on the overall project, the content of the text and the objectives set. In order to know if your company needs the localization, it is necessary first of all to define precisely what the needs of the project are and the market to which it is addressed.

So the localization is to some extent a deeper and more accurate version of the translation. Elements directly linked to the target audience, whether cultural, linguistic or other, are integrated. It represents an even greater advantage in the marketing and legal field, but can be useful for all kinds of projects.

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Virginia Pacheco's picture
Virginia Pacheco

Blog writer and Community Manager interested in multiculturality and linguistic diversity. From her native Venuzuela, she has travelled and lived for many years in France, Germany, Cameroon and Spain, passing on her passion for writing and her intercultural experiences.

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