Translation vs localisation: the importance of language choices


As we’ve recently explored in our post ‘What to consider when doing business in France‘, when you’re working with other countries, a number of factors have to be considered. The same is true when you’re having documents translated, whether they’re HR materials, product information or market research surveys.

You may have established that you require translation from English to French, but if you are targeting Canada as well as France, your French translation would need further localisation to Canadian French.

Apart from factoring in extra time for mother-tongue translators to complete the additional localisation, after translation, there are a number of other things to consider. In this post (part one of two) we look at the importance of language choices when targeting different markets.

Localisation services vs localization services

When you translate market research surveys, for a global study, considering local languages will ensure clear communication and that your questions are positively received. This in turn will yield consistent and comparable answers as each market will understand the questions the way you intended.

For example, when sampling a market in the USA or Australia, the English language requires localising. Aside from differences in spelling (UK: colour Vs USA: color), there are everyday words which have different meanings in each market, which could cause unwanted confusion and skewed research results.

Some examples:

USA: Chips = English: Crisps

USA: French fries = English: Chips


French: Une blonde = a blond person

Canadian French: Une blonde = a man’s girlfriend (irrespective of hair colour!)


Translation vs localisation

In most cases translation is enough when conducting market research abroad, but if you are unsure if further localisation would benefit your project, your language service provider can advise you. By telling them the details of your project and target markets, they will use their additional knowledge about language, grammar and country culture to offer you the most appropriate translation, or localisation, service.

If you require translation services or would like some advice about localisation, give us a call on +44 1727 862722 or email us at and we’ll be happy to help.

Don’t forget to look out for our next post where we’ll be looking at how cultural considerations influence translation.


"Communication was great, my translations were delivered on time, and the quality of the final product was excellent. Thanks."

Global Project Manager Market Research Agency


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