What is localization…

…as opposed to „regular“ translation?
This is a question my students often ask me, and although the concept is clear in my head, it’s not that easy to explain.

Basically, it’s translating the original text not only into the target language but also into the target culture, so that the meaning that is often inferred and sort of hidden beneath the text comes across just as it was intended. Or as I like to put it, the same image that’s in the head of the original speaker or writer needs to pop up in the head of the listener or reader, regardless of the words used.

While this is also true for just plain ol‘ translation, which in itself is already way more than just replacing the original with words from the target language (and therefore not something just anyone is able to do and do well, but I digress), localization goes beyond for example using the correct idioms, getting more up close and personal, as it were.

Most examples to explain localization are marketing texts or similar publications, but I recently came across a video about the localization of Disney-Pixar® films that explains the concept very well indeed.

As is the case frequently, pictures often say it better (and faster) than words, so here it is – enjoy!

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Anke Betz

Anke Betz

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