How Local Do You Need to Localize?

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Imagine that you’re a software developer in Madrid and you’ve just put the finishing touches on your killer new gaming app, El Juego Casi Imposible. The navigation, Ui, and graphics are all good to go… For Spain. That’s great, but you’ve got your sights set on the rest of Europe, the North American market, and beyond. You know you’ve got to have it translated, but is that enough? Will people in China understand the symbolism in the storyline? Will players in the US understand how hot/cold 36° is? Will everyone like your main character, a smiley guy in a red shirt flashing a peace sign?

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No, no and no. The exact reasons why not all lie within the vast topic of localization, the process of adapting content to fit different audiences and cultures. Most of these adaptations are the obvious changes needed to help local audiences better relate to and engage with the content. These things are so obvious, however, that they’re easily overlooked just because they are second nature to the creator and his/her intended audience – Celsius versus Fahrenheit, writing someone’s weight in kilograms versus pounds, the local currency, etc. These tiny fixes are invisible when they’re done right and jarring when they’re not.

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After you have handled the most basic level of app localization, you can get into the more nuanced stuff. Symbolism varies wildly across cultures, as do people’s emotional responses to things as basic as color. Your main character’s red shirt might be seen as unlucky in Germany. And while red is the color of love in the US, in Japan the color green actually holds that distinction. Seemingly minor things like this can only be properly navigated through localization. The level of detail you want for your project is entirely up to you and the localization team, but it is a topic that bears serious consideration beforehand.

If you and your software localization team have done your due diligence, then you’ll have avoided the worst kind of localization error of all – offending your audience. Does your in-game map show Taiwan as a country? That’s not gonna fly in some places. And your friendly main character flashing the peace sign? That could be taken as “the forks,” an offensive gesture akin to the middle finger in South Africa and Australia.

The payout for proper localization is enormous, as you’re able to exponentially increase your target audience and market. If you’re looking to do just that, contact a localization agency like APlusTranslations, who will put you on the path to success.

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