Translation vs Localisation and What Does It Mean?

Voice Over Session

Translation vs Localisation and What Does It Mean?

There are a variety of different reasons you may need a voice artist who speaks a different language. This could be because your advert is going to be published internationally and needs a translation for a different language, or that the game you’ve produced needs language dubbing for selected countries.

Whatever your need for a voice talent with a different language, there are a few things to consider when looking for your translation. 

The main question is: do you need a translation or a localisation?

What’s the difference you may be thinking? 

We have broken down the difference below, so take a read before deciding on your project to see what you may need. 


The definition of translation is to convey something from one language into another. This takes into account the way different languages form their sentence structure. The final result has exactly the same meaning just in a different language. 

A good example of this can be seen when translating from English to Spanish.  Take the phrase “I am 23 years old”. Once translated into Spanish as “tengo 23 años” which means I have 23 years. The end result has the same meaning, explaining how old they are, just in the language structure after translation.

It is a like for like situation. You are not trying to change what is said in any way, only the language in which it is conveyed. 


With localisation, there is a bigger focus on adapting the language to the locational target. This focuses on the detail in how the language will be presented to the target audiences. Adapting and adopting various cultural aspects into a translation.

This can include using things such as the correct date format, currency & text length. If your voiceover needs to run for 30 seconds, making sure the text length suits this time frame is vital. An exact translation could overrun due to word characters and phrases being longer than needed if it isn’t optimised to suit the desired audience.

Making sure that the correct currency is used for the correct region you are advertising to, will prevent a disconnect from forming with your voiceover. For example, advertising to the French while advertising currency in pounds sterling is not likely to gain trust or credibility.

Overall, the devils in the detail and that is what localisation entails. This is perfect for building up a relationship with the desired audience that is in a different country. 

Essentially, it is a more detailed and customer-focused translation. 

When Should I Use Translation?

Translation is great for small soundbites where detail isn’t included. This could be as simple as a greeting, adding a little bit of detail about a service or product, and if there is a specific message you are hoping to get across. 

It is ideal for when you want the meaning to be exactly the same as your original script. 

When Should I Use Localisation?

Localisation is ideal for any kind of vocal where you want to connect with your audience and start to form relationships. 

Using a local dialect will further appeal and connect with the language audience.

Where Do I Start With Localising My Audio?

The first place to start with is the script. This could be a character script or a branded commercial outline, and the best place to start is with the intended audience.

After you have this confirmed, it is a good idea to use translation tools to get a feel for how long your sentences are in the language you want to translate to. Here you can see if a translation is going to be too long or too short. 

Next is to see if localisation will help fill in the gaps or help reduce the time. If you are aware of certain phrases that are used locally, then try swapping out bits and pieces to fit your timeframe.

Think of it like Twitter. There are a certain number of characters that you can use, so you swap out sentences to fit. You are basically doing the same with localisation to help fit your voiceover. 

Then look to see if what you are trying to convey will connect and further establish a relationship with the end-user.

From here you can then provide the script to your voiceover agency, and they will get the casting, and recording all set up. 

When Is Localisation Not Appropriate?

Localisation is appropriate to use in most projects if it is to create and build reputation and trust with your audience. The main thing to consider is if you are bordering on cultural appropriation, especially when going global with your voice over. 

The key is to avoid shortcuts in your localisation. If your tone of voice is slightly off when combined with the local language, this can flag up to the audience that you haven’t put much thought into the translation. This can make your audience feeling like you are culturally appropriating a part of their culture. 

Avoid this and you should be fine with your translation. Detail is everything, so make sure your intention is in the right place when looking to localise a translation.

How Do I Go About Getting a Translation and Localisation for My Existing Audio?

You can look for a translator to assist with the language barrier, or you can cut out the middleman and come straight to us. With over 1000 voice’s covering over 80 languages, we can help make your translation work for your target audience!

We have language artists from all over the globe (bar Antarctica currently).  With over 5000 projects completed in a variety of different regions, we consider ourselves a bit of a pro when it comes to voice talent. 

So, whatever your project is, check out our website for more information on our artists and get in touch with our team to speak about your project on +44 (0) 203 744 3558. 

Whether you need a voice for a media advert or for a new game that you are currently working on, we are bound to have what you are looking for.

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