What is localization?

Localization basically consists of the translation of a text according to the standards, conventions, laws and cultural needs of a given country. This can be material for advertising, packaging, videos, or especially software programs and web sites. This activity does not only involve translation, but also includes the modification of specific standards that change from one country to another.

Linguistic adaptation

An example of linguistic adaptation is the use of different units of measurement, currency, or addresses, as well as operating systems, page codes and characters (every alphabet is managed by different sets of characters: ASCII, ANSI, UNICODE, etc.). The final aim of localization is to allow for the correct use of a product (such as a software program), while respecting the end user’s cultural habits and expectations.

Experience and use of adequate tools

Reaching the best results requires specific abilities and the use of the proper software tools. The Localization of a data base is significantly different than the localization of a CAD program; in addition, each program is developed for a specific operating system (UNIX, Windows, OS/2, Macintosh) characterized by its own terminology and specific tools for development. Certain files, such as on-line help, contain hidden codes, hypertextual links, or preformatted text; that is, a series of elements that, if ignored, may prevent the product from functioning.

Considering all factors

Technique and competence must interact in a wide range of circumstances that, if ignored, can prevent a program from functioning correctly (as an example, consider the need to reduce the content of a text if it exceeds the pre-determined length of a string). Therefore, the success of localization is achieved through the integration of information technology, editorial, linguistic and cultural capabilities.