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What do localisation and adaptation actually mean?

February 10, 2015

What do localisation and adaptation actually mean?

February 10, 2015

What do localisation and adaptation actually mean?

February 10, 2015

flags-38754_640There are many things to be considered when putting an assessment or test into another language. Translation is just one part of the equation: localisation and adaptation are also key elements in the process. This will ensure that your assessment or test is meaningful and valid in the target market.

So what do we mean by localisation and adaptation? For a start, our American colleagues will think it strange to see “localisation” spelt with an “s”. As I have a UK English spellchecker, I will stick with the UK English spelling with apologies to our North American friends!

However, spelling is just one part of a proper localisation and adaptation process.

Localisation means that you take something in the original test and change it so that it is meaningful in the target market. Currency and weights and measures are just some of the areas that need to be localised.

However, a simple localisation on its own won’t necessarily make the text meaningful in your target country. You then need to carry out the adaptation step to ensure that it makes sense for your intended audience.

Let me give you an example:

In a clinical psychology assessment that we translated into Hungarian, one of the tests required the respondent to make calculations using currency. The figure in US Dollars was 10.

10 ForintIf you just localise this, then you get 10 Forint, which is the local currency in Hungary. However, given that the exchange rate is $1 to 244 Forints, it makes no sense at all to have an amount which is the equivalent of 4 US pennies on which to do a calculation involving paying for something and getting change.

You then need to adapt the amount so that it is meaningful in a Hungarian setting. Given that the original amount was $10, you would multiply that 244 by 10 and round it to give an amount of 2,500 Forint. This gives you a meaningful amount that someone could take into a shop to purchase something and to calculate the change to be given.

However, you also need to take into account the financial realities in other countries when adapting texts. In India, for example, the equivalent of $10 may be someone’s weekly wage, so it isn’t a trivial sum, whereas in the USA, $10 is, relatively speaking. You therefore need to adapt this to a realistic sum for the target country.

Localisation and adaptation are important aspects in the whole translation, localisation and adaptation process. They require very careful consideration in order to ensure that the translations are both meaningful and culturally acceptable in other countries.

In our next post, we will look at whether you should translate your tests, assessments and certifications.

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