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Language localization for texts perfectly in tune with the target culture

Thinking about marketing your products or services abroad? A simple translation might not be enough. To be certain that your texts are appropriate for a given country and a specific culture, you need an ad hoc service. You need language localization.

How is localization different from translation?

Whereas a translation is the conversion of a text written in one language into another, with localization the text is adapted for the target culture, so the final product reads as if it were conceived and developed for that culture from the start. This is why localization poses a number of extra challenges. Localizers don’t just focus on the meaning of the words; they consider various cultural aspects and think about the overall context.

The elements to consider when localizing a product include, for example:

  • Alphabets
  • The direction of the writing (from right to left or left to right, from top to bottom, etc.)
  • Naming conventions (e.g., in Japanese one’s last name usually precedes their first name, whereas in other languages like English and Italian the first name comes first)
  • The formats used for dates (DD/MM/YYYY, or MM/DD/YYYY or YYYY/MM/DD)
  • The formats used for time
  • The formats used for telephone numbers
  • Currencies (both how they are written and the conversion of amounts into local currency)
  • Measurements (metric or imperial system) and conventions for writing units of measurement
  • Use of punctuation, such as quotation marks (“…” in Italian and „…“ in German)
  • Symbols and icons (including the use of certain images which may have a positive or negative connotation in different cultures, or the use of color, which may have more or less positive connotations depending on the target culture).
  • Legal requirements (e.g., regulations that apply only in a certain country or region, like the GDPR in the European Union)
  • Plays on words in the text (including irony and sarcasm, which are not always perceived the same way in different cultures).

Experts in both the source and target languages, translators can tweak all these tiny details when localizing a text and advise the client for a translation tailored to the target context.

When does a text need to be localized?

When you expect to communicate on national or regional markets, it is important to use a localization service to satisfy users who speak a different language and live in a different region with its own culture. This is the only way to keep from disorienting users with your text and to ensure that they may use the content as naturally and simply as possible.

This service is essential for user interfaces on various digital devices (whether for software, websites, video games or mobile apps), but it is also extremely important for advertising and promotional texts in that it makes the content easier to use and conveys the essence of the intended message.

A practical example: Italian-speaking Switzerland

The same language may be spoken differently in different places, like British and US English or Italian in Italy and Italian in certain cantons of Switzerland (the Ticino and Grisons cantons). The same can be said of the German and French spoken in Switzerland.

Swiss Italian is a true regional variant with a lexicon and syntax that differ considerably from standard Italian. For example, Swiss Italian uses words that derive from the French or German, or words that are unusual or have a different meaning in standard Italian. The differences are evident in everyday texts as well as, and especially, in certain highly regulated sectors like the legal and administrative sector and the medical-pharmaceutical sector. If your texts are meant for potential customers in Switzerland (regardless of whether they are documents to be translated into Italian or are texts already used on the Italian market), I can help you localize them for Switzerland with the help of local professionals.

FullStop has many years of experience in language localization and the adaptation of content for the Italian public and, thanks to a network of professionals, for an international public as well. Whether you want to localize a website, an app or a product brochure, I will help you develop an effective message for the target country. Contact me and tell me what you need!


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