Localization vs. Translation

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Translation can provide difficulties in many formats. Some text is highly technical and requires hours of research to find appropriate terminology. Other text might have an idiom or play on words that doesn’t exist in the new language. These are dilemmas that translators must deal with daily, and this is where two forms of language services come into play. Localization vs. Translation. 

Translation’s first priority is the source text. It is the translator’s job to adhere as faithfully as possible to the original content. Without the liberty or freedom to alter the content, translators must be creative while still staying “inside the box” to come up with solutions that will be coherent and concise in the new language. Translators must always walk the line between literal word-for-word translation to stay as faithful as possible, and adaptation of the text to better flow in the target language. Where on that line of balance the translator lands will vary from project to project but staying closer to the source text is always considered the “safe” route. 

Localization is when translators have much greater freedom to alter the content in order to adapt it for the target audience. This might entail changing an idiom in the source text to a different idiom in the target that holds a similar meaning. In the case of an acronym or alliteration it may require even more thought and consideration to come up with a viable solution. Localization focuses the efforts of the translator on the target language. They must be willing, and have the authority, to change the original content and perhaps even alter the meaning to ensure better reception by the target audience. Translators often struggle to offer this service without very close communication and cooperation with the client. It takes a great deal of diligence as well as freedom to alter the content and can thus pose a lot of problems for those who are not the original content creators.

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