It is said that the best way to learn a language is to be immersed in the culture. Language taught from text books comes across as formal while language spoken on the streets seems more accurate.
If you are constantly exposed to another language, you will probably pick up some words and phrases. With time and practice, you might even become fluent. But can the same happen with technology? Is it possible for multilingual software programs to avoid textbook translations and promote each language in a way that is culturally appropriate?
What is Language Localization?
The term “language localization” is used to describe the translation process a product goes through before it is released in a particular country. This process involves more than translating text verbatim; language localization adapts many aspects of the software to fit the norms of a particular culture.
Considering Cultural Differences
This is important. After all, what is okay in one culture may be looked down upon in another. Take these two examples:
- How do you address business partners and senior level leaders? Is this the same way your colleagues in China address their superiors? Is there a hierarchy you need to abide by when communicating with them?
- How does your understanding of time differ from someone in Germany? Or Latin America? Does a meeting start at 2:00pm sharp or sometime around two?
In America, we tend to be more lax about how we address our coworkers but punctual when it comes to time. People in other countries may prefer using surnames at all times and starting a two o’clock meeting at ten past the hour. When a particular software program (especially in the case of business communication software) is available to people in multiple countries, language localization can ensure all aspects of the software are appropriate and easy to understand. This would not be the case if the content were merely translated.
The Difference Between Translation and Language Localization
The biggest difference between translation and language localization is that localization considers non-textual components. Translation, on the other hand, can only address text to some degree. Let’s explore this thought by briefly discussing the Spanish language. There are many Spanish speaking countries but very few of them speak Spanish the same way. Grammar and spelling issues arise when people from Chile speak with people from Peru, or Venezuela, or Colombia. The process of language localization takes this into consideration when preparing software for a particular region and user demographic. Textbook translation does not.
More so, language localization changes components like graphics, currency symbols, date and time formats, addresses and phone numbers. It even takes into consideration how the software appears on frontend display. There are a few cultures that read from right to left – so must their software displays.
Language localization is imperative to the act of preparing a software program for users who speak different languages. In the business world today, it is important to have software that can meet the needs of people in different countries. Companies are using social learning management systems (LMSs) with language localization to bring cohesion to their global workforces. TOPYX is a social LMS that boasts award winning multilingual features. Experience language localization first hand by requesting a free demo of TOPYX.
When you read articles about language localization, does it increase your gratitude for technology? Even though you work with people who speak different languages, your bad grade in high school Spanish doesn’t matter. Communicating across language and cultural divides has never been easier.