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So what's the difference between a website translation service and a website localization service? Website translation tends to focus exclusively on the language side, whereas website localization is quite simply the process of "making your website local", and in so doing, appealing to local users within your target region(s). It involves much more than standard document translation - it covers all aspects of reaching out to the "local market" and giving your website a truly homegrown feel within the target market. The localization process is more than just the language itself - menus, buttons, banners, layouts etc, have to be adapted to suit the new language settings. This may even include changing culturally insensitive or inappropriate colours in certain markets.
East Asian language (such as Japanese and Chinese) localization of an English website will cause your text to expand by up to 30%, so it's important to take these changes into account where more text means more space. This may affect your original layout, and aspects of your design may require re-engineering or adjustment to accommodate the localized changes.
It's also important to take the business norms and cultural preferences into account in making your website truly "local". This might include obvious things such as changing the currency (e.g. does the symbol come before the numbers or after?), date formats, font settings or using accepted terminology (e.g. is it "shopping basket" or "shopping cart"?), observing cultural norms and linguistic style (e.g. Japanese has a grammatical system to express politeness and formality) and so on.
There are over 400 million internet users in Europe, 260 odd million in North America and Asia leads the pack with over 760 million users^. In fact, Asia has experienced over 500% more internet users in the last decade with China leading the pack. The most popular language is Mandarin (845 million speakers) followed by Spanish (329 million speakers) and English (328 million speakers)^^. For most companies, these emerging markets represent realistic opportunities to grow activities and gain much needed exposure. And no longer is it the preserve of the MNCs - plenty of small businesses are tapping into the limitless opportunities available. Globalization, Internationalization and Localization (known as L10N), whichever term you wish to use - it's all about new opportunities. That means websites need to be localized to reach out to your target audiences and markets. Most websites are created using one of the three main languages: html, asp or php.
Localized markets usually have very different cultures, languages, idioms and ways of communicating. Even North American and British markets require Localization. Even the very word 'Localization' can be replaced by 'Localisation' if the chosen market uses British English (BrE, BE, en-GB)*. Translations aren't always 100% accurate and accuracy rates can easily drop by approx 20% (or even more) if a translator doesn't work into their mother tongue. It's a risk you're not willing to take and it's why we only use translators working into their mother tongue unless when we come across the exception where we can't expressly find a native translator. Of course, we alert you of this in advance.
Take the following saying:
"To make a mountain out of a molehill", we all know means to exaggerate. "Hij maakt van een mug een olifant" is the Dutch equivalent. Except it means to "make a mosquito an elephant". So a literal translation wouldn't make much sense in the Netherlands.
If you go with us, you will probably want to opt for the use of translation memory software. Translation Memory (TM) software essentially remembers everything that's been translated and searches for previously translated words, phrases and sentences within new (untranslated) material as the translator works. Why use MT then:
We select professional translators who are active in the localization community and who have extensive knowledge, experience and understanding of the type of issues encountered in the process. All of our translators have a minimum of 3 years experience, a recognised university degree and have relevant coding and programming experience, where necessary. We also set every applicant a test before they join us and we've worked it out that we turn away an average of 6 out of 10 applications.
If you need a quote - please send your source files to us and we will prepare a free (no obligation) estimate for you.
* en-GB is the language code for British English, defined by ISO standards and Internet standards.
^ "Internet Usage Statistics". Internet World Stats - 8 July 2010.
^^ "The death of language?". BBC News - 19 October 2009.