Translation and Localization. Outside of the field of linguistic services (where the difference between these two terms is a simple fact), they do get mixed up a lot. And it is no surprise, because just like any other industry, linguistics has its own specific terminology. If you ever wondered what the differences are, then you have come to the right place.

The situation is further blurred by some Localization Services Providers (LSPs) or Translation Service Providers (TSPs) not actively discussing this topic with their clients. Letting them know as little as possible about the details of the process might be easier at first, but it surely doesn’t help the working relationship in the long run. Keeping the client in the dark can create an environment where there is no way other than simply trusting the service provider with everything—mostly with the fact that they are offering you services you really need. For example, this lack of specificity can leave room for offering rates that seem very favorable in the beginning, but then significant additional expenses are needed to finish the projects with the quality standard required later on. We feel that this is not the way business should be conducted; we believe in transparency. From our experience, this transparency has proven to be the best strategy.

We had been working with several clients that didn’t know any details about localization despite the fact that they had regular projects that required linguistic services.  Their annual budget for these projects was frequently quite large.

All these clients had one thing in common—they had been using one or two providers for a long time. Usually, the vendors were selected mainly based on rates they were able to offer. In many cases, the “per page rate” was used instead of the “per word rate” model (which is—and should be—a standard in our industry). And in pretty much all these cases, there were issues with quality, consistency, and timeliness in meeting delivery dates. After detailed analyses of the rates, processes, and tools these companies had in place, we found out that what they are paying for is in fact “translation” and not “localization.”

All these clients had one thing in common—they had been using one or two providers for a long time. Usually, the vendors were selected mainly based on rates they were able to offer. In many cases, the “per page rate” was used instead of the “per word rate” model (which is—and should be—a standard in our industry). And in pretty much all these cases, there were issues with quality, consistency, and timeliness in meeting delivery dates. After detailed analyses of the rates, processes, and tools these companies had in place, we found out that what they are paying for is in fact “translation” and not “localization.”

So, what actually is the key difference between those two terms? We often use the following visualizations for explanation:

Translating often means translating words and sentences without the use of specialized Computer Aided Translation (CAT) tools. The use of CAT tools allows us to use proper workflows to manage terminology, consistency, and leverage previously localized text segments.

Both approaches are valid and have their target audience. You will be quite fine with translating your CV into another language since there is no need for consistency across multiple materials nor do you need to reuse words at a later stage to save money. Many companies start with translation simply because it is cheaper and easier and—at that time—enough. And that is fine. Issues begin to pile up when clients miss the signs that it is time to step up to localization. This step is necessary when many different materials (web, marketing, technical documentation, software) have specific terminology that needs to be consistent and large amounts of text are the main ones to watch out for. localization-related topics.

At Loqipa, we know how to help in these situations, so please don’t hesitate to contact us if you would like to know more. You can also download our case studies to read about specific localization-related topics.

Have a project in mind?

Tell us more about it and we will get back to you with a solution and a quote.

This website uses cookies to ensure you get the best experience on our website.