Internationalization First, Localization Second

In the present day and age, a large volume of translation projects are requested by customers that are intent on localizing their products, sales pitches, marketing materials, etc.  There is a tremendous need to break into new markets, and that means that localization is a primary concern for tranlsation agencies.

Of course, localization can be a tricky affair when the source text itself is not apt for the process…which is where internationalization comes into the picture.  Internationalization is, in a nutshell, the adaptation of a given product (text in this case) to remove obstacles to the process of localization.

Internationalization can imply various things: changing or removing certain images or symbols that may not be understood (or worse, could directly be considered offensive) in certain cultures; eliminating ethnocentric cultural references that will fall on deaf (foreign) ears; and generally reviewing pretenses and basic logic to ensure that the broadest possible sector of the global population will be able to identify with the message being delivered.

With these issues out of the way, the process of localization becomes much easier and straighforward.  Some translation agencies will offer both services while others will only offer localization; customers should be aware that the higher the internationalization quotient of their source text is, the less expensive the subsequent localization process will be.