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  • Writer's pictureAna Catarina Lopes

Same language, different countries: why you need to localize your copy

In this article, I point out 5 important aspects to keep in mind when taking your product or service to a same language foreign country and explain why you should get a qualified professional to do it.

Same language, different countries: why you need to localize your copy

Expanding your business to a country where the language is the same as yours might seem simple and very straightforward when comparing the internationalization process to other language speaking countries.

I have already talked about 5 things to keep in mind when localizing your website. However, many people think about localization as a byproduct of translation. This is a common misconception, as some localization projects do not include translation at all because the source and target language are the same.

That being said, you might ask “So, why do I need to localize anything at all?”. Keep on reading, and I will tell you why.

1. Same language doesn’t mean the same dialect

Although countries may share an official language, that does not mean that the language is spoken (and written) in the same way. Different countries add different aspects to the base language, usually input from local pre-existing dialects, words that have the same form but mean different things depending on geography, and even grammar and syntax that work differently.

2. Same language doesn’t mean the same culture

This almost goes without saying, but I am going to say it anyway: different countries mean different cultures. Historical and cultural background and references vary a lot from country to country, even when the spoken language is the same. Having a properly localized copy, content or marketing campaign can save your brand a lot of time and money (and also embarrassment).

3. Same language doesn’t mean the same audience

Your product or service might appeal to a specific demographic in your origin country and spark zero interest in the equivalent group in the target language. On the other hand, even if you are reaching out to the same slice of demographics in both countries, their language register, slang, tone of voice and many other aspects might not coincide, so you will need to hire a localization professional with good knowledge of your target to sell it the right way.

4. Same language doesn’t mean the same number format

When going across the border, you need to take into account changes in formats regarding things like currency, dates, time, measurements, and even printing paper format. People do not use them consistently around the world, and an incorrectly localized (or not localized at all) number format might cost you clients and money.

5. Same language doesn’t mean the same legal framework

In a globalized world where everything is regulated and need to be compliant with every legal aspect of all the involved stakeholders, it is a huge mistake to leave your business’ legal affairs unattended. When taking your product or service abroad, make sure you meet all legal obligations under the target country legal framework.

When expanding your business to a foreign country, all these aspects will determine the success of your sales. Hiring a native professional translator specialized in localization will ensure you are presenting your brand in the right way to the right audience.


About the author:

Ana Catarina is an English to Portuguese translator specialized in Healthcare and Marketing. She helps foreign companies to launch their brand and products in the Portuguese market by translating, localizing and transcreating their client-targeted contents to make them appealing to the Portuguese public.


Med & Mark - A blog about medical and marketing translation
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