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Basic Linguistic Terms: Translation, Localization, Transcreation, and More

Posted by Anne Q. on November 22, 2019.

The complicated world of language services terminologies can be a real headache for many clients. What are the differences between localization and transcreation? What do internationalization and globalization mean? How do these terms have anything to do with your business? Well, we are here to give you the answers.

So in today’s post, let’s get familiar with 5 basic linguistic terms: translation, localization, transcreation, internationalization, and globalization.

1. Translation (or t8n)

Translation is the very basic linguistic term no one should ignore. It is the process of converting words from one language to another. Translators focus on remaining the accuracy in the meanings, grammar, and tone of voice in the target translation. Because, in the end, the aim of a translation is to give readers a full understanding of the source files.

This process involves experienced native translators specializing in one specific domain. There are 3 common levels of translation, namely Translation Only, Translation + Editing, and Translation + Editing + Proofreading.

Translation Process

2. Localization (or l10n)

Localization is one step further than translation. Besides translating words to guarantee the accuracy of meanings, localization specialists also make changes in the layout, images, time formats, etc. to meet the target countries’ culture, social, political, legal properties and requirements. In a nutshell, localization includes translation and culture adaption.

But why do you have to localize instead of translating? Well, localization might save you from regretful misunderstanding, or worse, culture offence to your target audience. Imagine you are about to publish a commercial in the India market and the commercial happens to have a scene of people eating pork. Most Indian people are Hindus so if you keep the full commercial without localizing, your brand, with no doubt, will be boycotted in this market.


3. Transcreation

Transcreation is the process of adapting a message from a source language to a target language. The word use, grammar, or vocabulary of the source file do not affect the transcreation process. Translators can make any changes they want as long as the core meaning of the source remains. The message of a good transcreation must evoke the same emotions to audiences as it does in the source language. To make it clearer, Transcreation is the combination of translation with language, culture, and emotion adaption.

Also, transcreation is mostly applied in Marketing campaigns where emotions like sympathy and excitement play an important role in the engagement of the target to guarantee the success of a transcreation project, the involvement of Marketing Experts and Writing Creators are inevitable.


4. Internationalization (or l18n)

Internationalization might be the most confusing linguistic term for newbies in this industry. It refers to the technical process of planning and implementing products and services to adapt to a new language and culture. This process makes sure your products can be adapted to new languages without changing the source codes. Creating plugs suitable for new electric outlets, or allowing space in user interfaces for languages requiring more characters are some examples of internationalization. In short, internationalization can be considered as the preparation step for translation and localization.

Localization and Internationalization


5. Globalization (or g11n)

Globalization is the process of spreading a company’s products, services, technology, or jobs across national borders. It requires a broad and comprehensive strategy to address and solve possible challenges the company might face in a brand new international market. Translation and Localization are small yet crucial parts of the globalization strategy. Thus, excellent translation and localization of products, services, or business documents pave a way for the company’s success in global markets.