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GILT: Globalization, Internationalization, Localization, Translation – and the Difference Between them

This article defines and explores the Difference between Globalization, Internationalization, Localization, and Translation, also acronymized as GILT, clearly outlining the cross-border similarities, as well as subtle differences between the four concepts, aided by relevant examples and top GILT benefits for clients on the lookout for translation services.

Author: Andreea Balaoiu

GILT: Globalization, Internationalization, Localization, Translation – and the Difference Between them

As the global market continues to evolve and become interconnected, businesses are increasingly driven by the changing requirements and demands of international markets. This results in a continuously rising demand for Translation and Localization Services.

Often at the start of any Translation journey, businesses are faced with a choice of several types of approaches: Globalization, Internationalization, Localization, or Translation, but which one is most applicable to your specific situation and what is the Difference between them?

The Definition of Globalization, Internationalization, Localization, and Translation (GILT)

Term

Definition

Globalization (G11N) The process by which businesses or other organizations develop international influence or start operating on a global scale.
Internationalization (I18N) The design and development of a product, application or document content that enables easy Localization for target audiences that vary in culture, region, or language.
Localization (L10N) The linguistic adaptation of content for the target region, its languages, and cultural particularities in order to make it appropriate, easily understandable, and comfortable to use for local native language speakers.
Translation (T9N) The literal word-for-word transformation of a source text into the target language.

The term GILT is widely regarded as part of the key terminology of the language sector when it comes to international expansion, the above definitions serving as a starting point for a closer look at their contextual framework.

What is Globalization (G11N)

What is Globalization (G11N)

Globalization refers to a plenary process implying the growing interdependence of the world’s cultures, economies, and social frameworks, generated by cross-border trade and the exchange and flow of goods, services, technologies, investments, people, and information.

In the context of the Translation and Localization industry, it describes the ‘going global’ business practice of adapting content services and products to global, foreign markets from the standpoints of cultural, linguistic, and stylistic adaptation.

A few relevant examples of Globalization:

Starbucks

It is well known that the Starbucks coffee brand has taken its story to the next level, delivering an immersive experience, adapted and gently curated for each and every specific international destination it reached. The Globalization success of the Starbucks brand lies in the way they’ve adapted their environment and messaging to convey the local, authentic American brewery feel, without compromising their consistency.



IKEA

Another success story is IKEA, with its carefully polished brand lens, appealing to international audiences through the right balance between global, culturally adapted messaging and localized strategies.

Through Globalization, business organizations manage to tighten their grasp on their clientele in the form of international operations, establishing streamlined, mutually beneficial and enduring connections and partnerships.


 

Continuing the GILT stream of insights, the next two concepts, Internationalization, and Localization, which will be detailed further, are inherently linked to the generic context of Globalization; however, they display some granular and subtle differences.

What is Internationalization (I18N)

What is Internationalization (I18N)

In the Translation and Localization framework, Internationalization (or ‘i18n’ as acronymized by researchers) implies the design and development of a content product or application in order to enable a streamlined localization and adaptation process for target audiences from linguistic, cultural and regional standpoints.

Internationalization entails the following set of principles and practices:

  • International content product deployment, facilitated by adaptable design and UI development (Unicode, Legacy Character Encodings, Concatenation of strings)

  • Adapting codes to specific local/regional/linguistic preferences (ASCII character encoding, reflecting predefined localization data, formats, data systems for an array of languages)

  • Clear demarcation between localizable elements (source code from content) based on international requirements, preferences.

  • User interface (UI), applicable in the case of multilingual translations and ensuring enough data buffer space for linguistic data support and storage.

A few relevant examples of Internationalization:

Johnnie Walker Scotch Whisky

Through the “Keep Walking” theme guiding each ad, Johnnie Walker managed to create and fully localize a series of iterations of its iconic catchphrase, achieving linear relevance to its target markets, worldwide.



UNIQLO Japanese apparel

The Japanese retailer localizes its Facebook pages by country, customizing the brand content and messaging regionally and culturally, to be able to run fully localized campaigns simultaneously in different parts of the world.

The examples above clearly showcase the relevance and benefits of Internationalization through the corporate brand strategy lens, as ensuring the adaptability of content products and services to different international and cultural frameworks inherently increases the potential, reach, and market penetration capabilities of the respective brands.


 

The examples above clearly showcase the relevance and benefits of Internationalization through the corporate brand strategy lens, as ensuring the adaptability of content products and services to different international and cultural frameworks inherently increases the potential, reach, and market penetration capabilities of the respective brands.

What is Localization (L10N)

What is Localization (L10N)

Localization can be defined as the linguistic and stylistic adaptation of content for the target region, its languages, and cultural particularities in order to make it appropriate, easily understandable, and comfortable to use for a local native target audience.

Localization requires in-depth knowledge of terminology and the specifics of the region and culture the localized content is intended for. Also, Localization requires modification of various aspects, such as the interface layout, numerical styles, local currencies, local time and date preferences, colors, units of measure, content, graphics and art style.

A relevant example in this sense would be the AI-powered virtual assistants such as Alexa or Siri, widely employed by a significant percentage of the global population for simple operations such as value forecasts, location estimates, or generic answers to questions.

Virtual assistant interfaces represent neural breakthroughs in Localization, as they display a wide range of linguistic renditions and variables (language choices or specific accents: for example, American, British, Australian English) or other cultural or behavioral settings of choice.

Another significant example of how Localization comes into play, ensuring the ultimate, tailored experience for end-users in their native languages and cultural frameworks, is Video Game Localization.

The Japanese Video Game conglomerate Nintendo is universally known and acclaimed for its streamlined content localization interface, allowing for the virtual creation, translation and adaptation of the game and video content simultaneously, ensuring cross-consistency between both the native and localized end versions of their products (for more insights into the particularities of Video Game Localization, check our recent article).

In this sense, not only does Localization allow for content to be fully understood by users, it also shepherds and delivers the source message into the target language and market, achieving maximum effectiveness and a higher degree of content flexibility compared to a typical translation process.

What is Translation (T9N)

What is Translation (T9N)

The terms ‘Translation’ and ‘Localization’ are often mistakenly interchanged and misused when referring to the cross-linguistic interpretation and rendition of content. However, even though they share the same purpose, at their cores, their meaning and approach towards its achievement are different.

Translation can be defined as the literal word-for-word transformation of a source text into the target language, the first stepping stone on any content’s road towards a new audience, as it provides this new audience with the ability to understand the source text in their native language.

A typical application scenario for translation is exact texts. Examples include technical and medical documentation, where the focus is on specific terminology that has to be converted from language A to language B.

However, translation alone is not sufficient due to its word-for-word approach, in cases where the main focus is to deliver a message from language A to language B, hence the inextricable correlation with Localization.

GILT: recap and review

  • Globalization:

    processes by which a company brings its business to the rest of the world.

  • Internationalization:

    the practice of designing products, services, and internal operations to facilitate expansion into international markets.

  • Localization:

    the adaptation of a particular product or service to one of those markets.

  • Translation:

    the process of translating text from one language into another.

How AD VERBUM can help your business with GILT

At AD VERBUM we provide a dedicated and customizable variety of ISO-certified translation and localization services, with standardized processes and efficient usage and management of translation memories (TMs), glossaries and CAT (Computer-Assisted Translation) tools, ensuring efficient turnaround times and high-quality linguistic output.

Through this solution arsenal, we ensure a streamlined, accurate, consistent, and cost-effective translation processes, helping you to break boundaries, adapt your content to international audiences, and gain global momentum for your business.

For more insight into AD VERBUM’s Translation and Localization solutions, check out the services and industries dedicated pages, as well as our Translation Industry Insights Blog, and let us shape your business goals, give you the voice to speak globally, and help you to achieve them.

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