Language localisation

Language localisation (or localization, see spelling-differences) is the process of adapting a product that has been previously translated into multiple languages to a specific country or region (from Latin locus (place) and the English term locale, "a place where something happens or is set").[1] It is the second phase of a larger process of product translation and cultural adaptation (for specific countries, regions, or groups) to account for differences in distinct markets, a process known as internationalisation and localisation.

Language localisation differs from translation activity because it involves a comprehensive study of the target culture in order to correctly adapt the product to local needs. Localisation can be referred to by the numeronym L10N (as in: "L", followed by ten more letters, and then "N").

The localisation process is most generally related to the cultural adaptation and translation of software, video games, and websites, as well as audio/voiceover, video, or other multimedia content, and less frequently to any written translation (which may also involve cultural adaptation processes). Localisation can be done for regions or countries where people speak different languages or where the same language is spoken. For instance, different dialects of German, with different idioms, are spoken in Germany, Austria, Switzerland, and Belgium.

The overall process: internationalisation, globalisation and localisation

The former Localization Industry Standards Association (LISA) said that globalisation "can best be thought of as a cycle rather than a single process".[2] To globalise is to plan the design and development methods for a product in advance, keeping in mind a multicultural audience, in order to avoid increased costs and quality problems, save time, and smooth the localising effort for each region or country. Localisation is an integral part of the overall process called globalisation.

The globalisation process
(based on a chart from the LISA website.)[2]

There are two primary technical processes that comprise globalisation: internationalisation and localisation.

The first phase, internationalisation, encompasses the planning and preparation stages for a product that is built by design to support global markets. This process removes all cultural assumptions, and any country- or language-specific content is stored so that it can be easily adapted. If this content is not separated during this phase, it must be fixed during localisation, adding time and expense to the project. In extreme cases, products that were not internationalised may not be localisable.

The second phase, localisation, refers to the actual adaptation of the product for a specific market. The localisation phase involves, among other things, the four issues LISA describes as linguistic, physical, business and cultural, and technical issues.

At the end of each phase, testing (including quality assurance) is performed to ensure that the product works properly and meets the client's quality expectations.

Translation versus localisation

Though it is sometimes difficult to draw the limits between translation and localisation, in general localisation addresses significant, non-textual components of products or services. In addition to translation (and, therefore, grammar and spelling issues that vary from place to place where the same language is spoken), the localisation process might include adapting graphics; adopting local currencies; using proper format for date and time, addresses, and phone numbers applicable to the location; the choices of colours; cultural references; and many other details, including rethinking the physical structure of a product. All these changes aim to recognise local sensitivities, avoid conflict with local culture, customs, common habits, and enter the local market by merging into its needs and desires.[3] For example, localisation aims to offer country-specific websites of the same company or different editions of a book depending on where it is published. It must be kept in mind that a political entity such as a country is not the same as a language or culture; even in countries where there exists a substantially identical relationship between a language and a political entity, there are almost certainly multiple cultures and multiple minority languages even if the minority languages are spoken by transient populations. For instance, Japan's national language is Japanese and is the primary language for over 99% of the population, but the country also recognises 11 languages officially, others are spoken by transient populations, and others are spoken as second or other languages.

Globalisation versus localisation

Whereas localisation is the process of adapting one product to a particular locale, globalisation designs the product to minimise the extra work required for each localisation.

Suppose that a company operating exclusively in Germany chooses to open a major office in Russia and needs a Russian-language website. The company offers the same products and services in both countries with minor differences, but perhaps some elements that appeared in the original website intended for a German audience are offensive or upsetting in Russia (use of flags, colours, nationalistic images, songs, etc.). Thus, that company might lose a potential market because of small details of presentation.

Furthermore, this company might need to adapt the product to its new buyers; video games are the best example.[4][5]

Now, suppose instead that this company has major offices in a dozen countries and needs a specifically designed website in each of these countries. Before deciding how to localise the website and the products offered in any given country, a professional in the area might advise the company to create an overall strategy: to globalise the way the organisation does business. The company might want to design a framework to codify and support this global strategy. The globalisation strategy and the globalisation framework would provide uniform guidance for the twelve separate localisation efforts.

Globalisation is especially important in mitigating extra work involved in the long-term cycle of localisation. Because localisation is usually a cycle and not a one-time project, there are new texts, updates, and projects to localise. For example, as the original website is updated over time, each already translated and localised website must be updated. This work cycle is continuous as long as the original project continues to evolve. A streamlined globalisation processes is therefore important for ongoing changes.

Translation memory (TM) technology that exists in various translation software platforms can aid in this specific aspect of the globalisation process.[6]

Language tags and codes

Language codes are closely related to the localising process because they indicate the locales involved in the translation and adaptation of the product. They are used in various contexts; for example, they might be informally used in a document published by the European Union[7] or they might be introduced in HTML element under the lang attribute. In the case of the European Union style guide, the language codes are based on the ISO 639-1 alpha-2 code; in HTML, the language tags are generally defined within the Internet Engineering Task Force's Best Current Practice (BCP) 47.[nb 1] The decision to use one type of code or tag versus another depends upon the nature of the project and any requirements set out for the localisation specialist.

Most frequently, there is a primary sub-code that identifies the language (e.g., "en"), and an optional sub-code in capital letters that specifies the national variety (e.g., "GB" or "US" according to ISO 3166-2). The sub-codes are typically linked with a hyphen, though in some contexts it's necessary to substitute this with an underscore.[8]

There are multiple language tag systems available for language codification. For example, the International Organization for Standardization (ISO) specifies both two- and three-letter codes to represent languages in standards ISO 639-1 and ISO 639-2, respectively.


  1. ^ BCP is a persistent name for a series of IETF Request for Comments (RFCs) whose numbers change as they are updated. As of 2015-05-28, the latest included RFC about the principles of language tags is RFC 5646, Tags for the Identification of Languages.

See also


  1. ^ "locale". The New Oxford American Dictionary (2nd ed.). Oxford University Press. 2005.
  2. ^ a b "What is Globalization?". LISA. Romainmôtier, Switzerland: Localization Industry Standards Association. Archived from the original on January 1, 2011. Retrieved 6 September 2010.
  3. ^ Pagano, Annie (June 2018). "The Importance Of Website Localization In A Global Marketplace". Interpreter and Translators, Inc. Glastonbury,Connecticut: Interpreters and Translators, Inc.
  4. ^ Chandler, Heather Maxwell (October–November 2008). "Practical skills for video game translators". MultiLingual. Sandpoint, Idaho: MultiLingual Computing.
  5. ^ Crosignani, Simone; Ballista, Andrea; Minazzi, Fabio (October–November 2008). "Preserving the spell in games localization". MultiLingual. Sandpoint, Idaho: MultiLingual Computing.
  6. ^ "Best Way to Translate a Website for Accuracy & SEO". Pairaphrase. Pairaphrase Blog. Retrieved 4 January 2018.
  7. ^ "7.2.1. Order of language versions and ISO codes (multilingual texts)". Interinstitutional style guide. Europa Publications Office. 1 July 2010.
  8. ^ drepper (18 February 2007). "libc/localedata/SUPPORTED - view - 1.102". Red Hat. Retrieved 6 September 2010. (List of supported locales in the GNU libc library.)

External links

Examples of language tags
Language family Language tag Language variant
Bangla bn-BD Bangla (Bangladesh)
bn-IN Bangla (India)
Chinese zh-CN Mainland China, simplified characters
zh-TW Taiwan, traditional characters
zh-HK Hong Kong, traditional characters
Dutch nl-BE Belgian Dutch
nl-NL Standard Dutch (as spoken in The Netherlands)
English en-GB British English
en-US American English
en-CA Canadian English
en-IN Indian English
en-AU Australian English
en-NZ New Zealand English
French fr-BE Belgian French
fr-CH "Swiss" French
fr-FR Standard French (especially in France)
fr-CA Canadian French
German de-AT Austrian German
de-DE Standard German (as spoken in Germany)
de-CH "Swiss" German
Italian it-CH "Swiss" Italian
it-IT Standard Italian (as spoken in Italy)
Portuguese pt-PT European Portuguese (as written and spoken in Portugal)
pt-BR Brazilian Portuguese
Spanish es-ES Castilian Spanish (as spoken in Central-Northern Spain)
es-MX Mexican Spanish
es-AR Argentine Spanish
es-CO Colombian Spanish
es-CL Chilean Spanish
es-US American Spanish
Contrastive linguistics

Contrastive linguistics is a practice-oriented linguistic approach that seeks to describe the differences and similarities between a pair of languages (hence it is occasionally called "differential linguistics").

Discovery Channel France

Discovery Channel France is a television channel broadcasting to France. It is the French version of the Discovery Channel.

The channel launched on September 1, 2004. Until then, France had been the only region in Western Europe not reached by the Discovery Channel. It initially reached 3.2 million subscribers via the CanalSat platform. On March 31, 2009, the channel adopted the new Discovery Channel logo and look.The channel faces competition from other documentary channels such as Planète.

European Society for Translation Studies

The European Society for Translation Studies (EST) is an international non-profit organization that promotes research on translation, interpreting, and localization.

Journalistic translation

Journalistic translation is the type of translation used notably in newspapers. It is it is a fairly new area of research in translation studies. The first research about it was conducted in the mid-2000s, but translations started appearing in newspapers as early as the 17th century.

Language industry

The language industry is the sector of activity dedicated to facilitating multilingual communication, both oral and written. According to the European Commission's Directorate-General of Translation, the language industry comprises the activities of translation, interpreting, subtitling and dubbing, software and website globalisation, language technology tools development, international conference organisation, language teaching and linguistic consultancy. According to the Canadian Language Industry Association, this sector comprises translation (with interpreting, subtitling and localisation), language training and language technologies. The European Language Industry Association limits the sector to translation, localisation, internationalisation and globalisation. An older, perhaps outdated view confines the language industry to computerised language processing and places it within the information technology industry. An emerging view expands this sector to include editing for authors who write in a second language—especially English—for international communication.

Linguistic validation

Linguistic validation is the process of investigating the reliability, conceptual equivalence, and content validity of translations of patient-reported outcome (PRO) measures.

Literal translation

Literal translation, direct translation, or word-for-word translation is the rendering of text from one language to another one word at a time (Latin: "verbum pro verbo") with or without conveying the sense of the original whole.

In translation studies, "literal translation" denotes technical translation of scientific, technical, technological or legal texts.In translation theory, another term for "literal translation" is "metaphrase"; and for phrasal ("sense") translation — "paraphrase."

When considered a bad practice of conveying word by word (lexeme to lexeme, or morpheme to lexeme) translation of non-technical type literal translations has the meaning of mistranslating idioms, for example, or in the context of translating an analytic language to a synthetic language, it renders even the grammar unintelligible.

The concept of literal translation may be viewed as an oxymoron (contradiction in terms), given that literal denotes something existing without interpretation, whereas a translation, by its very nature, is an interpretation (an interpretation of the meaning of words from one language into another).

Medical translation

Medical translation is the practice of translating various documents—training materials, medical bulletins, drug data sheets, etc.—for health care, medical devices, marketing, or for clinical, regulatory, and technical documentation. Most countries require that companies and organizations translate literature and labeling for medical devices or pharmaceuticals into their national language. Documents for clinical trials often require translation for local clinicians and patients and regulatory representatives. Regulatory approval submissions typically must be translated. In addition to linguistic skills, medical translation requires specific training and subject matter knowledge because of the highly technical, sensitive, and regulated nature of medical texts.


Poedit (formerly poEdit) is a shareware and cross-platform gettext catalog (.po file) editor to aid in the process of language localisation.

It is written in C++ and depends on some subclasses from the wxWidgets, but utilizes graphical control elements from the GTK+ library.


Pre-editing is the process whereby a human prepares a document before applying machine translation . The main goal of pre-editing is to reduce the post-editing workload by adapting the source document in order to improve the raw output of the machine translation.

Pre-editing could be also valuable for human translation projects since it can increase the application of the translation memory.

In general, pre-editing is worth to apply when there are more than three target languages. In this case, pre-editing should facilitate the process of machine translation by spell and grammar checking, avoiding complex or ambiguous syntactic structure, and verifying term consistency. However, it is also applicable for poorly-converted files . Linguistic pre-editing is more important than pre-editing of the format since errors can affect machine translation quality.

Regulatory translation

Regulatory translation is the translation of documentation pertaining to the approval and compliance of medical devices, pharmaceuticals and in vitro diagnostics products. Many countries around the world, including Japan and the United States, require that approval dossiers for new products be submitted in local languages for the regulatory bodies to read and analyze. Similarly, any documentation associated with follow-up changes to approved products or reporting of field issues must be translated for countries that require it.Aside from linguistic skills, regulatory translation requires specific training and subject matter knowledge in order to translate medical and regulatory content. This is because of the highly technical, sensitive and regulated nature of medical texts as well as the strict adherence to terminology required for some countries. Regulatory translation also requires specific knowledge of the document templates required for different countries' dossier formats. Because approval dossiers are often composed of a variety of different document types, such as CAD drawings, spreadsheets, scanned patient signatures as well as word processed expository sections, the translation process can be more difficult than other types of medical translation.

Skopos theory

Skopos theory (German: Skopostheorie) is a concept from the field of translation studies. It provides an insight into the nature of translation as a purposeful activity, which is directly applicable to every translation project.

It was established by the German linguists Hans Vermeer and Katharina Reiß and comprises the idea that translating and interpreting should primarily take into account the function of the target text.

Source text

A source text is a text (sometimes oral) from which information or ideas are derived. In translation, a source text is the original text that is to be translated into another language.

Television in Croatia

Television in Croatia was first introduced in 1956. As of 2012 there are 10 nationwide and 21 regional DVB-T (Digital Video Broadcasting – Terrestrial) television channels, and more than 30 other channels either produced in the Republic of Croatia or produced for the Croatian market and broadcast via IPTV (Internet Protocol television), cable or satellite television. The electronic communications market in Croatia is regulated by the Croatian Regulatory Authority for Network Industries (HAKOM), which issues broadcast licenses and monitors the market. The DVB-T and satellite transmission infrastructure is developed and maintained by the state-owned company Odašiljači i veze (OiV).

The first television signal broadcast in Croatia occurred in 1939 during the Zagreb Fair, where Philips showcased its television system. The first regular broadcasts started in 1956, when Television Zagreb was established as the first TV station in the Yugoslav Radio Television system. Color broadcasts began in 1975. Coverage and number of channels grew steadily, and by the 2000s there were four channels with nationwide coverage in Croatia. DVB-T signal broadcasts began in 2002, and in 2010 a full digital switchover was completed. During that period the IPTV, cable and satellite television markets grew considerably, and by 2011 only 60.7 percent of households received DVB-T television only; the remainder were subscribed to IPTV, cable and satellite TV in addition, or as the sole source of TV reception. As of January 2012 DVB-T is broadcast in three multiplexes, while the territory of Croatia is divided into nine main allotment regions and smaller local allotments corresponding to major cities. High-definition television (HDTV) is broadcast only through IPTV, although HDTV DVB-T test programming was broadcast from 2007 to 2011. A DVB-T2 test broadcast was conducted in 2011.

Television in Croatia, as all other media in the country are criticised for lack of balance of global issues and trends on one hand and national topics covered on the other. All major television networks in Croatia are generally thought to be under excessive influence of commercialism. State owned Croatian Radiotelevision is required to produce and broadcast educational programmes, documentaries, and programmes aimed at the diaspora and national minorities in Croatia. The television in Croatia is considered to be important in avenue for non-governmental organizations communicating their concerns to the public and to criticising the authorities. Television is the primary source of information for 57% of the population of Croatia.

The Rosetta Foundation

The Rosetta Foundation is a nonprofit organization that promotes social localisation, i.e. making information available to individuals around the world irrespective of their social status, linguistic or cultural background, and geographical location.

The Rosetta Foundation is registered as a charitable organization in Ireland. It is an offshoot of the Localisation Research Centre (LRC) at the University of Limerick, Ireland, and the Centre for Next Generation Localisation (CNGL), a major research initiative supported by the Irish government.

The Rosetta Foundation develops the Service-Oriented Localisation Architecture Solution (SOLAS), a language localisation solution for volunteer translators and not-for-profit organizations in Social localisation to contribute to the translation and distribution of demand-driven, community-generated content around the world. This effort is ongoing and has led to two workshops one in San Francisco (The Rosetta Foundation Design Fest, 05-6 February 2011) and one in Copenhagen (The Rosetta Foundation Deployment Fest, 31 March - 1 April 2011). A first preview of Translation exchange, now called SOLAS Match, was given on 17 May 2011; the first pilot project using SOLAS Match was launched on 20 October 2012. The Rosetta Foundation launched The Translation Commons (or "Trommons"), empowering language communities on 18 May 2013; Trommons is powered by SOLAS.

Transcription (linguistics)

Transcription in the linguistic sense is the systematic representation of language in written form. The source can either be utterances (speech or sign language) or preexisting text in another writing system.

Transcription should not be confused with translation, which means representing the meaning of a source language text in a target language (e.g. Los Angeles into City of Angels) or with transliteration which means representing the spelling of a text from one script to another (e.g. Jalapeño, which preserves the Ñ from Spanish despite the diacritic having no use in English).

In the academic discipline of linguistics, transcription is an essential part of the methodologies of (among others) phonetics, conversation analysis, dialectology and sociolinguistics. It also plays an important role for several subfields of speech technology. Common examples for transcriptions outside academia are the proceedings of a court hearing such as a criminal trial (by a court reporter) or a physician's recorded voice notes (medical transcription). This article focuses on transcription in linguistics.

Translation criticism

Translation criticism is the systematic study, evaluation, and interpretation of different aspects of translated works. It is an interdisciplinary academic field closely related to literary criticism and translation theory. It includes marking of student translations, and reviews of published translations.The concept itself of "translation criticism" has the following meanings:

Quality assessment of the target text, especially of its semantic and pragmatic equivalence regarding the source text.

Assessment of the proceeding followed by the translator in order to translate the text.

Part of translation science dealing basically with:nature and aims of translation criticism,

considering the problems of translation criticism,

defining valid criteria and proceedings for criticizing translation regarding its aims.

Translation project

A translation project is a project that deals with the activity of translating.

From a technical point of view, a translation project is closely related to the project management of the translation process. But, from an intercultural point of view, a translation project is much more complex; this becomes evident, for instance, when considering Bible translation or other literary translation projects.

Translation scholars such as Antoine Berman defend the views that every translator shall develop their own translation project, adhere to it and, later, develop translation criticism. Every translator can only be faithful to his/her own translation project.


Transliteration is a type of conversion of a text from one script to another that involves swapping letters (thus trans- + liter-) in predictable ways (such as α → a, д → d, χ → ch, ն → n or æ → e).

For instance, for the Modern Greek term "Ελληνική Δημοκρατία", which is usually translated as "Hellenic Republic", the usual transliteration to Latin script is "Ellēnikḗ Dēmokratía", and the name for Russia in Cyrillic script, "Россия", is usually transliterated as "Rossiya".

Transliteration is not primarily concerned with representing the sounds of the original but rather with representing the characters, ideally accurately and unambiguously. Thus, in the above example, λλ is transliterated as 'll', but pronounced /l/; Δ is transliterated as 'D', but pronounced /ð/; and η is transliterated as 'ē', though it is pronounced /i/ (exactly like ι) and is not long.

Conversely, transcription notes the sounds but not necessarily the spelling. So "Ελληνική Δημοκρατία" could be transcribed as "elinikí ðimokratía", which does not specify which of the /i/ sounds are written as η and which as ι.

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