Internationalisation and localisation

Internationalisation is the process by which a product (most often software) or websites are adapted for use in different languages and to different technical requirements for a target market. During the internationalisation process a product is designed with the aim to make it more adaptable to different languages and countries without the need for further redesign. After the internationalisation of a product or website content, it is much easier to convert it into an unlimited number of languages with minimal or almost no cost at all.

Many people think that localisation is very similar to “regular” translation in that it involves adapting content to a specific country and culture, or the market in which a product or service is to be sold. However, localisation includes the conversion of many additional details, such as currencies, units of measure, phrases etc. It is important to keep in mind that what is acceptable in one culture may be unacceptable or even offensive in another.

Therefore, it is of great importance that such localisation projects are carried out by experienced translators – native speakers – who preferably live in the country for which a product or service is being localised. Aside from the requirement that they should be native speakers, translators are also selected based on their specialisation within a particular field of translation. For instance, a translator who usually localises products for the food and beverage industry is unlikely to be the best choice for the localisation of warehouse management software.

There are many websites on the Internet that have been localised using free online tools for machine translation (the most well-known is Google translator). However, despite continuing advancements in machine translation tools, the results of the machine translation cannot replace those of human translators. Although it is undoubtedly the cheapest solution for those who want to get closer to their clients in international markets, one should absolutely avoid it if he or she wants to leave a good lasting impression and show appreciation to all potential clients, no matter where they are located.

In order to achieve the best possible final results of localisation, especially on larger projects, the following is needed:

•    Glossaries and terminology lists – lists of technical terms used by translators in order to maintain consistency during translation.
•    Translation memories – databases created during the translation process by tools for computer-aided translation (CAT tools). Translation memories record each translated word, sentence or paragraph, enabling translators to be consistent in their translation. The use of translation memories not only improves the consistency of the translation; in the long run they also help to reduce the cost of translation since discount rates are applied for the translations that already exist in the translation memories.
•    Style guides – documents that contain special instructions from the client that translators must follow during translation. Style guides usually contain basic orthographic and grammar rules, as well as instructions for translating brand names, numbers, labels and other elements that are specific for a particular client.

Our professional translators know how to efficiently convey your messages to potential new clients and, as such, their role is irreplaceable in every translation and localisation project.

For more information feel free to contact us at email.