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What is localization?

25. May 2011 11:09 by Susan Andrus, marketing manager in   //  Tags:   //   Comments (0)

Understand when your documents require more than translation.

What language do you want your project translated into? What is the purpose of your project? How will the translation be used? Where will the translation be used? The answers to these questions will enable your language service provider to decide whether your project requires translation or localization. This often begs the question, exactly what is localization?

Localization is the process of adapting a product or service for use in a specific geographic location, according to language and culture. A product or service that is properly localized will appear to have been developed within the local culture through the use of idiomatic language translation. Additional details to be considered include currency, local holidays, jargon, geographic examples, color and cultural sensitivities, and proper names, as well as ethnicity of people in photographs.


Localizing translated text is very similar to transcreation. If the Spanish statement “Entrada de caballo, salida de burro,” were to be translated, it would read “Enter on horseback, leave on a donkey.” Though this translation is accurate, it would not be meaningful to a U.S.-based audience. If the statement were localized for use in the United States, it would read as “Don’t start something you can’t finish” instead.

Localization doesn’t always involve recreating a statement or idiomatic expression, but rather dealing with influencing details. Imagine an advertisement copy for a grill that includes the statement “Joe likes to barbecue on the 4th of July.” The translation of this statement into Spanish would be “A Joe le gusta hacer una barbacoa el 4 de julio.” However, if this statement were to be localized for use in Argentina, “Joe” would be changed to a common regional name, such as “José,” and “the 4th of July” might be updated to “25 de mayo,” Argentina’s National Day. Thus, the localized version of this statement would be “A José le gusta preparar un asado para el 25 de mayo,” which is more engaging for an Argentinian viewing the ad.

Graphics and colors

Color symbolism is an important consideration when localizing your service or product. Just as you wouldn’t send your client in the U.S. red roses (romantic love) or your client in Japan white carnations (death), you wouldn’t want to print your labels or brochures on yellow for use in Egypt or on red in South Africa, both of which represent mourning for those countries.

Graphics and images are equally important, specifically when they involve photos of people. If you are localizing a brochure for use within a Vietnamese community and that brochure contains a number of photos with people, it is important that at least a few of those people are Vietnamese. If the photographs are changed to include various Asian ethnicities that are not Vietnamese, the brochure will not appear to have been developed within the local culture.

What you need to know

Localization is typically reserved for materials on products and services that will be marketed, sold, and used within a different culture than where they were originally created. If you are interested in learning more about localization or aren’t sure if it applies to your project, talk to your account manager or language service provider.




25. May 2011 11:04 by Susan Andrus, marketing manager in   //  Tags:   //   Comments (0)

History: With more than 170 million people, Pakistan is the sixth most populous country in the world, with the second largest Muslim population after Indonesia. Pakistan is quite diverse ethnically and linguistically, due to a multitude of invasions by Persians, Greeks, Scythians, Arabs (who brought Islam), Afghans, and Turks. The British came into power in the eighteenth century and continued to rule until 1947, when Pakistan gained its independence. The separation from British India was not satisfactorily resolved and left Pakistan divided into western and eastern regions, which were separated by more than 1,000 miles (1,609 km). [View map of Pakistan (formerly known as West Pakistan, India, and Bangladesh (formerly known as East Pakistan).]

With the adoption of its own constitution in 1956, Pakistan became an Islamic Republic. For the next two decades, military rule prevailed. Tensions between East and West Pakistan increased as West Pakistan monopolized political and economic power, eventually leading to a civil war in 1970. With the defeat of West Pakistan, the president stepped down and leadership went to Zulfikar Ali Bhutto. After 24 years of instability, East Pakistan declared independence and became Bangladesh in 1971.

In March 1977, Pakistan held its first elections, and Bhutto’s Pakistan People’s Party (PPP) won by a landslide. The victory was considered by many to be fraudulent, leading to violent protests that resulted in a military takeover by Gen. Mohammed Zia ul-Haq. Zia tried, convicted, and executed Bhutto, despite worldwide protests. Zia then declared himself president in September 1978 and ruled by martial law until December 1985, when a measure of representative government was restored. Zia was killed in a plane crash in 1988, which lead to another round of elections in which Zulfikar Bhutto’s daughter, Benazir Bhutto was elected the first female prime minister. Benazir Bhutto was elected on two separate occasions, but both times she was removed from office for alleged corruption. Following the second removal, she moved to Dubai in self-imposed exile, returning in 2007 after being granted amnesty by President Pervez Musharraf. Two month later, on December 27, 2007, Benazir Bhutto was assassinated. She was survived by her husband, Asif Ali Zardari, who then became the leader of the PPP.

Zardari led a coalition that forced the resignation of then president, Pervez Musharraf. On September 9, 2008, Zardari became the president of Pakistan.

Language: The two official languages of Pakistan are Urdu and English. Pakistan also has four major provincial languages: Punjabi, Pashto, Sindhi, and Balochi, as well as three major regional languages: Saraiki, Hindko, and Kashmiri. Urdu is known as the national language of Pakistan, chosen to facilitate communication throughout Pakistan’s diverse linguistic populations. Urdu is only spoken as a first language by 7.5 percent of Pakistanis, but it is spoken as a second and third language by nearly all. 

Culture: Greeting: As-Salamu Alaykum, May peace be upon you
               Reply: Wa alaikum As-Salam, And may peace be upon you too

Introductions: Introductions should be made by mutual acquaintances. It is considered rude to introduce yourself.

  • Men will shake hands with other men, placing their left hand over their heart.
  • Men will bow slightly to women, placing their left hand over their heart. People of the opposite sex do not shake hands.
  • When men are introduced to elders or women while seated, they will stand as a sign or respect.
  • Women who know each other will greet one another with a kiss and hug.
  • Men who know each other will greet one another with a hug.

Gifts: It is customary to take a gift of flowers, chocolates, or sweets when visiting a home for the first time. Gifts are given and received with both hands and will not be opened in front of the giver. Do not give alcohol and do not hand the gift to a person of the opposite sex.

Women: Women have more rights in Pakistan than in some other well-known Muslim countries. That being said, Pakistanis hold their women in very high esteem and want to protect them from outside influences. Out of respect, it is best to avoid public displays of attention, long eye contact, and speaking to a member of the opposite sex face-to-face. Revealing clothes should be avoided, and legs must be covered up by both sexes.

Business meetings: English is widely used in doing business within major cities in Pakistan. If you are planning a meeting, make an appointment three to four weeks in advance, scheduling it in the late morning or early afternoon. Do not schedule a meeting during Ramadan or during the time of day in which Muslims pray.

When going to a meeting, be there on time, be prepared to wait, and dress formally. Once a meeting begins, there will be a prolonged period of informal conversation on family and health. Note that frequent interruptions can occur during a meeting due to an open door culture.



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