Difference between translation and localization

Localization Ninja Inc. offers both translation and localization services. What’s the difference between them?

Translation is the task of rewriting content from the source language into the target language. We translate documents like patents, corporate reports, technical manuals, scientific journal articles, and press releases from Japanese into English. We work hard to produce accurate translations in which the target text preserves the original meaning of the source text.

Localization, in contrast, goes beyond translation of words and phrases, which is just one step in the localization process. Localization is widely used for websites, mobile apps, software, and video games in order to adapt the product as a whole to local audiences and meet local cultural expectations. In the process, there may be changes to not just to the text but also the product’s layout, diagrams, photos, menus, form fields, date formats, currencies, units of measurement, and even legal requirements like compliance with GDPR in Europe.

In the process of translation, technical accuracy is paramount. A translation of a patent application must translate the original language precisely, with no change in the scope of the patent’s claims or descriptions. The process of localization, in contrast, allows for more creativity. For example, when Coca-Cola began marketing their fizzy drink in China, they localized the name to kekoukele, meaning “tasty fun,” perfectly capturing the spirit of the Coke brand.

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