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The Key Differences Between Transcreation, Localization and Translation

Localización vs. Transcreación vs. Traducción

Translation, localization, and transcreation? But aren’t they all the same? Well, they’re not! It may seem like a linguistic whim of translators. Still, in translation agencies, we take the various linguistic needs of our clients very seriously. As management software does not have the same technical characteristics as a social media app, we have different “methodologies” for each occasion in the language services industry.

Do you want to know the main differences between translation, localization, and transcreation? Read on and find out which one best suits your project.

What Is Translation?

Translation is any process by which a text, spoken or written, changes language without changing the message. In essence, this description is fitting. However, you will be interested to know that there are slight nuances. In a translation agency, when we talk about a translation project, we refer to cases in which a written text (never spoken; for that, we have professional interpreting services) undergoes a process of language change in which fidelity to the text and the original language prevail. In other words, the main objective is to transfer the words of the original message without causing any reaction from the recipient other than informing. Therefore, it is ideal for informative texts and texts where we do not need a strong “connection” with the reader, such as technical sheets and user manuals, where every detail will be accurately translated following the original text.

What Is Localization?

Now it’s time to discuss the following “language exchange” service: localization. Remember that we are not talking about a higher level or a higher quality service, but another service apart from translation and transcreation. Its main feature is that the translator pays attention to the message and the language when faced with a localization project. It is intended to make “local” the “foreign” text so that the recipient perceives it naturally. As if it had not gone through a translation process and had been written directly in the target language. To this end, the linguistic expert will be forced to move away from literal words to convey the message correctly and adapt it to both the target language and culture. For example, in localization, elements such as currency symbols, date and time formats, units of measurement, laws, etc., are adapted since they are factors that may vary depending on the country.

What Is Transcreation?

Transcreation is a reasonably new term that combines translationand creation. Knowing this, you can already imagine that in these projects, professional translators are free to create a new text that conveys the idea of the original. Exactly! We said idea and not a message. It consists of creating new content based on the source text that conveys the concept of the original and sounds completely natural in the target language. In many cases, the target text varies entirely from the original text but manages to influence the reader similarly. Therefore, when transcreating, we focus on the emotions provoked by the message rather than the content itself.

An example of content that might need transcreation would be advertising. When comparing the advertisement of a product in different countries, you will see how, in many cases, other slogans are used to adapt to the reality of the target market. Thus, the audience can feel more impacted or identified with the message and even more easily remember the brand through its slogan. In these delicate projects, it is essential to have an expert linguist with high creative skills to write content that impacts the recipient and simultaneously meets the guidelines set out in the original. To do so, it’s necessary to maintain fluid communication with the client and not leave it to the expert’s interpretation of the text’s idea. You can find more information about this in our article on the requirements of a quality translation service.

What Are The Differences Between Localization, Transcreation, And Translation?

Now that we have described, broadly speaking, that there is more than one way to skin a cat… How are they different? What services does your company need to achieve success with your international strategy? What action suits your needs?

The first thing you would have to ask yourself is whether the text you need to translate demands literality seeks more emotional impact, or is a mixture of both. Of the three processes we have described, translation is the most literal. It focuses on the precise matching of original text and translated text. Localization starts with a translation process in which, in addition, linguistic and cultural factors are taken into account equally. Finally, transcreation goes beyond the word-by-word or phrase-by-phrase to create a new text in which the original text’s intention, sensations, emotions, and ideas are transmitted.

In the following table, you will see more clearly what are the 4 differences between translation, localization, and transcreation:

Style and intent are keptSlightlySomewhatMuch
Level of connection to the readerNormalIntermediateSuperior
Recommended text typesEmails, manuals, help documents, scientific and technical content, reports.Web content, courses and training, product information, success stories, video games, software.Blogs, slogans, campaigns, brochures, headlines, video scripts.

What About Internationalization?

And, as if that weren’t enough, we added a fourth process that is used to adapt a product to different markets and goes hand in hand with localization: internationalization. Internationalization consists of preparing and designing content that allows it to be adapted to other target languages and cultures without excessive content localization. That is, to offer an easily translatable neutral language and minimum localizable elements. Thus, we have a general content template that must be translated into different languages where we only have to localize the variable elements. An example would be a product sales website with the same translated descriptive content but other currencies and addresses depending on the country.

Why Is Localization Important?

After talking about up to four different processes, although related to each other, I’m sure you already understand the importance of localization.

Suppose you want to get a reaction from your recipient. In that case, the message must be conveyed clearly, naturally, and without interference. This way, users will enjoy a more intuitive and easy-to-use experience, leading to higher conversion rates, since they perceive the content offered in their language as more reliable. In addition, by participating more actively in their language, they will be able to get more involved with the brand and convey their satisfaction to other users, contributing to greater visibility and brand awareness.

We must not forget to mention the risks we can avoid thanks to localization, such as misunderstandings and offences due to cultural differences or legal sanctions due to breaches of local regulations.

In short, localization allows you to connect with users who were previously inaccessible to you due to language barriers. In addition, it gives you a competitive advantage over other companies that have not invested in localization. It’s all the advantages!

What Content You Should Localize

Any digital content intended for another language or culture user must be localized, such as software, applications, web pages, and video games. All its components and elements must be translated from pop-up windows, menus, buttons, and labels to its content. Likewise, images, videos, and other elements must be adapted to the target audience’s specific characteristics without forgetting the design of the interface to create a perfect browsing experience. On the other hand, it is essential to adapt the content considering cultural references, humour, and taboos that vary according to regions, for example, video games.

The types of companies that may need localization services are very varied:

Namely, software localization is beneficial for anyone looking to connect with an audience.

What Your Brand Needs

9 out of 10 people would ignore a product if it were unavailable in their native language. This is the main conclusion drawn from the behavioural study carried out by the consulting company Nimdzi. In this study, they analysed how language affects buyer behaviour, through surveys of 25 questions to end users, including 66 languages intended for respondents from more than 70 countries. Reflecting the essential role of language in any internationalization strategy.

Therefore, to improve your impact on your buyer persona in each market, it will be essential to have an excellent strategy to adapt your products and services to each target market. In other words, you must translate, localize, or transcreate your content according to each region. However, this is not a simple process, mainly if the peculiarities of your target market differ significantly from those of the source market. Therefore, having a translation agency specialized in these methodologies as a partner can help you accelerate and naturalize the implementation process in your markets of interest. Do you need to boost your internationalization strategy? Tell us about your issues and goals, and we will assist you in addressing the former and achieving the latter.

So, for example, your company will need a professional translation service if you want to translate user manuals, localization to open the doors of your website to international markets, and transcreation to develop an effective multilingual digital marketing strategy.

Whatever you need, do not hesitate to share it with us so that we can advise you on which service is the most suitable for your case and help you benefit from the advantages of having your content adapted to new languages. The data shows that 9 out of 10 people would ignore a product if it were not available in their native language, so you will need to translate, localize, or transcreate your content to succeed in new markets.

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