You say translation, I say localisation.

Mar 8, 2022 | Language, Language of the Month

There are so many different services with fancy names that the language industry offers: localisation, globalisation, transcreation…

Are all of these really different? What sets them apart from good old translation?

This short article will help you navigate the differences and similarities amongst these foreign-sounding terms.





Let’s start with the most well-known service of them all: translation.

Everyone knows what translation refers to, right? It means taking a written source text in one language and getting the same text written in another language in the end.

A legal document might need translation, patient information leaflets, police records… Accuracy is key; the most important thing is that a reader of the text in one language gets the same information as a reader in another language.


Well, hold your horses!

What about texts that are full of cultural references that would be lost on audiences in other languages? What if we need a text that is suitable for everyone across the globe? And what if a straightforward translation won’t do because you need a catchy slogan?

Then you might need localisation, globalisation or transcreation.

Let’s see them one by one.




If you need your cultural references adapted from the source culture and if you need your target audience to be able to apply what they read to their own experiences, you’ll need localisation.

Examples of localisation include adapting measurements and units or even some ingredients in a cookery book. Or changing characters’ names in a children’s book, so that kids can pronounce them without any difficulties. Or transcribing names that are written in different alphabets according to the target language’s rules. Sometimes even place names need to be adapted. (Did you know, for example, that London is Londres in French, Portuguese and Spanish?)




While localisation means adapting the source text to a specific audience, globalisation means exactly the opposite: during globalisation, the language expert makes sure that the text can be understood in its entirety by anyone, regardless of cultural background.

This might include removing references to local brands, doing away with obscure idioms or providing both imperial and metric measurements.




Perhaps the most mystifying word of all, transcreation is the most fun (if you ask translators working in marketing). It means taking a source text – most often a slogan or creative copy used for marketing purposes – and turning it into a magical copy in another language that will evoke the same feelings and achieve the same results as the original.

Forget word-by-word translation. Transcreation is copywriting at its finest.




Of course, in many cases, the lines between these services are blurred. You might need a bit of transcreationist creativity in an otherwise straightforward translation and you might prefer having certain things in your corporate document localised as well.

Here at First Edition, we believe in providing a tailor-made service to our clients, so don’t worry if your project doesn’t fit neatly into any of these categories. Just get in touch with us and let us know what you had in mind – we will be happy to find the best solution for you!

If you have any questions, drop us a line at, and one of our friendly Project Managers will guide you through it.