Translation and Localisation – The Difference

Let’s take a deeper look at the differences between translation and localisation and how to tell them apart. Let’s start with their respective definitions via



[trans-ley-shuh n, tranz-]


1.the rendering of something into another language or into one’s ownfrom another language.

2.a version of such a rendering: a new translation of Plato.

3.change or conversion to another form, appearance, etc.;transformation:a swift translation of thought  into action.

4.the act or process of translating.

5.the state of being translated.

6.Mechanics. motion in which all particles of a body move with the samevelocity along parallel paths.

7.Telegraphy. the retransmitting or forwarding of a message, as by relay.

Further, the definition for localize / localise:



verb (used with object), localized, localizing. make local; fix in, or assign or restrict to, a particular place, locality,etc.

verb (used without object), localized, localizing. gather, collect, or concentrate in one locality.


For us, we differentiate using the following:

Translation is viewed as the changing of the source text from one language to another targeted language. Any communications as such, requiring a rendering in another language, would be considered as translation.

Localisation, for us, is comprised of the translation of text and its meaning, or essence, to be suitable for a specific market and culture. It goes one step further than merely translating – localisation of the source text involves communicating within a specific region or culture and appealing to the personal preferences of the region/culture, in their own language. This includes the tiny nuances within language that only locals would appreciate and understand. This thereby allows for the translation to be crafted for the specific audience and their way of communicating naturally with one another.

Translation versus Localisation


Nelson Mandela once said, “If you talk to a man in a language he understands, that goes to his head. If you talk to him in his language, that goes to his heart.

If you ever need any insights into the differences between the two, and how we could help – e-mail  and we’d be glad to go through the differences and offer some advice on how best you could communicate effectively worldwide. Alternatively, check out our localisation services here:

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