Differences between “Globalization, “Internationalization”, “Localization” and Translation

Differences between “Globalization, “Internationalization”, “Localization” and Translation
There is much confusion as to how the terms “globalization,”
“internationalization,” “localization,” and “translation” should be
used. These terms are thrown about in the press, by product
developers, by marketing departments, by product management and
by the localization vendors themselves in myriad ways. Yet
understanding these terms and their corresponding processes is a
critical first step in product development. You may run into people
using these terms in different ways, but here is how we define them:

• Globalization:
The process of conceptualizing your product
line for the global marketplace so that it can be sold anywhere
in the world with only minor revision. It is most easily thought
of as your global marketing strategy and is associated with all
marketing concepts (branding, establishing market share and
the like). Globalization is particularly important in consumer
industries such as clothing and food. Anyone can drink Coca
Cola or wear Levi Strauss jeans, for example.

• Internationalization:
The process of engineering a product so
that it can be easily and efficiently localized. Engineering can
take the form of something as basic as document layout, for
example, to the more complex enabling of software to handle
double-byte character sets. See the sections on Writing for
Localization and Engineering for more details on how to
internationalize your products.

• Localization:
The process of customizing a product for
consumers in a target market so that when they use it, they
form the impression that it was designed by a native of their
own country.

• Translation:
The process of actually converting the written
word of a source language into the written word of a target
language. Translation is a crucial component of localization.
These four terms fit together as a “bull’s eye” diagram. Globalization
envelopes the entire concept of taking your product line global.
Internationalization is performed so that the product can then be
localized. Finally, translation is the “base” component of the entire
process as it represents the language transformation.