Why Localization Matters for Technical Translation in a Global Market

  |  April 12, 2017

Technical translation localization is key for companies expanding internationally.

You’re ready to take your business from the national stage to the global stage. But before you can do that, you have to prepare all of your materials, from marketing collateral to packaging instructions, for a new audience.

Simply translating the content isn’t enough—translation localization is vitally important. Localization is powerful. It can give your company a competitive edge, help expand your market, reduce potential liability, and establish your brand globally.

If you’re ready to introduce your product to a foreign market, you’ve probably considered hiring a technical translation company to provide localized translation. Even if this isn’t the case, one thing is clear: simply sharing your content globally doesn’t guarantee your message will be perfectly understood by everyone, regardless of the product.

Let’s take a look at three key reasons why localization matters for technical translation:

Localization Ensures Technical Translation Accounts for Idioms and Metaphors

Translation localization accounts for adapting currencies, graphics, date and time formats, and phone numbers. Your translation must also understand and adapt to the connotations and customs common in local culture.

The last thing you want is embarrassment because of poor or no knowledge of your target audience’s language, norms, customs, and even existing products. A famous example of this happened when Colgate sent one of its top brands, Cue, over to France.

Unbeknownst to Colgate, “Cue” was also the name of one of France’s most notorious adult magazines. Additionally, cue is a slang term in French for “butt.” As a result, Colgate yanked the brand completely.

Localization in Technical Translation Lends Attention to Cultural References

Unfortunately, many companies mistakenly think that product localization is as simple as translating one language into another. In fact, this couldn’t be more wrong. When introducing your product into a foreign market, cultural context needs high consideration—cultural nuances are of paramount importance.

In a survey conducted by the Common Sense Advisory, 52.4 percent of consumers said the ability to obtain information in a language that resonates with their culture is more important than price. It is no surprise, then, that people who didn’t understand the language behind the product were six times more likely not to purchase.

While technical document translation is different from translating consumer-oriented documentation, it’s still important that translations take cultural references into consideration. In fact, if anything, the consequences of misunderstood meaning in technical translation can be far more significant.

Localization Ensures Effective Technical Translation Within Language Variations

Translation localization helps directly connect to your target audience. You should never assume that your own local market characteristics apply globally.

Culture, history, tastes, and language usage vary greatly across the world, even within countries that speak the same language. For example, nuances in the Spanish language vary immensely amongst Latin American countries.

An American automobile manufacturer doing business in Mexico may use the word “coche” to refer to a car. However, “coche” means baby carriage in the Dominican Republic. The company would need to use the word “carro” for this market instead.

By taking into account regional practices and culture, localization of technical translation automatically expands your outreach globally. By ensuring you are utilizing the right terminology for a given culture, you are ensuring your product instructions or documentation are relaying the exact message you intend.

At ILS, we are sensitive to local and cultural issues when providing technical translation. We can alert you to any cultural issues in your technical document that need to be addressed and help correct them to suit your target audience.

Barb Sichel, Director of Business Development at International Language Services, Inc., has spent the last 10 years helping companies simplify and streamline the translation process. She is dedicated to educating medical device and industrial manufacturers of all sizes on how to ensure smooth, cost efficient completion of their translation projects.

Comments