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Triple Combo of Localization

2019-24-07  |  

What is Localization?

Translation of a website content, is it? Definitely, it’s not. Language localization (or localisation) is an adaptation of a product and its references to a specific country or region including translation, internationalization and cultural adaptation. It usually refers to software, video games, mobile applications, and websites. So the translation is a component of the sophisticated process but not the only one procedure.

The translation is the first level of Localization

The first and the most superficial… It includes as follows:

• Actually, the translation of the entire content into the target language including adopting local currencies, date formats, units, etc.;

• Adapting graphics, colour palettes and multimedia: in this case, we change favicons, icons, pictures and photos. For instance, if for the USA we will probably use a photo of New York, then for Singapore we will upload a view of Kuala Lumpur.

These details are very significant; with a truly competent approach, the localizer turns to the translation after all the others. And before that, the specialist looks at …

Cross-Cultural Adaptation is the second level of Localization

It is no secret that people in different countries think – and also perceive other people’s thoughts – in different ways. When translating, these differences should be considered as well. Fortunately for localizers, a huge amount of knowledge has been accumulated in the field of cross-cultural communication studies, and above all it makes sense to look … in business. Businessmen are very active in communicating with people from all over the world: business contacts arise worldwide, and everyone needs to find a common language. That is why Richard Lewis Model is one of the simplest and most effective cross-cultural models created specifically for the business. It divides all world cultures into three groups:

1. Monoactive cultures: passionless, strictly adhering to logic and plan, who value restraint and structure. Here, Germany is quite typical;

2. Polyactive cultures: emotional, make up only general plans and change them easily, often take up several cases at once. The example is South America;

3. Reactive cultures: they evaluate the overall situation, practically show no emotion, always strive to avoid confrontation, but are faithful to their principles. Vietnam is a good illustration here.

Of course, a “pure” form of culture almost never occurs, there is always some fusion. The Lewis model is well shown in the following diagram: This classification is by no means the only one. Sociologists and localizers often have to use the more complex model by Geert Hofstede. He proposed to survey all cultures by six dimensions: Power Distance, Individualism vs. Collectivism, Uncertainty avoidance, Masculinity vs. Femininity, Long vs. Short Term Orientation, and Indulgence vs. Restraint.

The last parameter is rarely used in localization, but the first 5 affect a lot.

For instance, the Germans have a high degree of uncertainty avoidance, so it is advisable to place detailed quotes, terms and conditions on your website. The sections as personal data processing policies, offer agreements, etc. should be visible and displayed in the upper part. The opposite situation is for the American audience – Americans are not afraid to take risks, they love adventures; so all the formalities can be omitted in the footer. At the same time, Americans have a more pronounced femininity (that is, they are for world peace, beauty, health, everything that is bright and eternal, as opposed to masculine cultures that rely more on analytics, profits, are more mundane and material). In this regard, your website version for the USA and Great Britain should contain information about the company’s participation in charity and so on. The Power Distance also matters.

You probably noticed that there is an appeal of the CEO with his or her photo image and signature on some corporate websites. On one hand, in Russia the small power distance leads to the fact that such methods work poorly. On the other hand, the Chinese and Japanese hierarchy is clear and rigid; this approach may be treated as a special respect to customers, which will certainly increase their loyalty.

The particular model is chosen by the localizer and depends on the project’s features. The fact is that the cross-cultural variations should be inspected. As soon as advertising, promotions, and web design are affected by these cultural aspects. However, the matter is not limited to the localization of content…

The third level of Localization is Structure Localization

To some extent, these are the cultural aspects again, but the structure localization is indeed closer to psychology. When adapting the cross-cultural content, the localizer first of all analyzes a common message, accent and impressions. When working with the structure, we evaluate all the material as a whole.

Which website sections are necessary to be shown? What order should the navigation be drawn up in? Which parts should be removed, and which elements should be added?

A true professional begins this process precisely with answers to these questions in order to determine the entire direction of the localization.

Psychology, cultural studies, information technology are the three components of the localization.


The junction of quite different spheres makes the profession of a translator and localizer astonishing and ultimate. That is why we adore our business so much.

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