What is Localization?

Translation and localization often go hand-in-hand. Translation from one language into another is a clear concept, but localization can be confusing. I think this is because localization is often an unseen part of the translation process, and good translators incorporate localization into nearly every project. Proper localization makes a translation really shine.

Localization is the process of adapting a message to a specific language variant or locale. It ensures that content appears to have been originally written in the target language. For example, a document translated into English may then go through a separate localization process in which the document will be edited for U.K., U.S., Canadian and other English-language readers. (Think “boot” and other words with widely different meanings.)

Some of the most common items changed during localization are:

  • Time format: AM/PM format vs. 24-hour “military time”
  • Date format: For example, the day is always listed first in Spanish, but second in English. Therefore, “4 de mayo de 2021” would be translated as “May 4, 2021”.
  • Number format: Commas and periods are used differently based on country or language variant: 2,044 vs. 2.044. Both of these can mean “two thousand forty-four” depending on the locale.
  • Tone: The default tone of many Spanish-language communications is the formal “Usted”. However, many English-language communications are less formal, and there is no different pronoun used to denote a formal vs. informal tone in English.
  • Pictures and Names: If images are part of a text, there may need to be some changes to those images in order to remain culturally sensitive. Similarly, a title or name might need to be altered for clarity or understanding.
  • Formatting: This includes details like punctuation placement.
  • Capitalization: Capitalization rules can be different depending on the language or language variant.

Software localization is a huge part of the translation industry, and you can read more about that here. That’s not my speciality, but I do a lot of localization in general—both formally and informally. It’s the surefire way to avoid any confusion, and it makes a translation easier and more enjoyable to read!


Last year I wrote about one of my favorite Spanish words, estrenar. Another favorite is tocayo:

Tocayo: Namesake

I don’t feel that the English translation of this word really does justice to the Spanish meaning or sentiment. In Spanish-speaking countries, and especially in Mexico, tocayo is a heartfelt word to refer to someone who shares your same name.

For example, if you know someone with the same name and want to ask how they’re doing, you would say, “¿Cómo está mi tocayo?” This isn’t too common in English, with the exception of perhaps a more formal situation. In English, you might read in a history book that someone’s “son and namesake inherited the throne”. It’s more old-fashioned.

Here are more examples of how to use the word tocayo: https://www.tellmeinspanish.com/vocab/tocayo/

Image courtesy of SmackBangDesigns.

Language and Personality: Who Are You?

Who are you? This is a question that most of us think about throughout our lives. Our self-image and personality probably changes over the years as our interests, relationships, and life experiences show us new sides to ourselves. 

So, what’s the role of language in who we are? Does the language we speak affect our personality and the way we interact with others? What if we’re bilingual? Does our personality change depending upon which language we’re speaking? That’s what François Grosjean, Ph.D., a Professor Emeritus of psycholinguistics, explores in an article in Psychology Today.

In his 2011 article, Dr. Grosjean opines that, yes, our personalities do often change depending upon which language we’re speaking. However, the reason this happens doesn’t necessarily lie in the language itself. He points out that the change is likely a product of culture and context because bilingual people often use their languages for different purposes. For example, you may only use English at work, and only speak Spanish at home with your family. This is the key to Dr. Grosjean’s findings. He shares: “Different contexts and domains trigger different impressions, attitudes and behaviors. What is taken as a personality shift due to a change of language may have little, if anything, to do with language itself.”

It’s little surprise, then, that someone may display more business-like or assertive tendencies while using one language at work and a more relaxed personality when using a different language at home—or vice-versa. I also think that vocabulary plays a big role here. There are simply words in one language that do not completely translate into another language, and thus the feeling and emotion behind those words will always change slightly from one language to another. (Take, for example, the Japanese word “tsundoku”. This is the action of leaving new books piled up on a table or on a bookshelf, unread, waiting to be opened. What a lovely word!)

Dr. Grosjean updated his findings last year in another article for Psychology Today. He again found that environment was the primary reason for these personality changes. If you yourself are bilingual, I’d love to know if you experience these changes.

Photo courtesy of Atlas Language Services.

2020 By the Numbers…and Hello 2021

Well, a very Happy New Year to you! I’m looking forward to what 2021 will bring. 2020 taught us that changes, questions and uncertainty are here to stay. At the same time, growth, new experiences and opportunities we didn’t see coming can also be part of our reality. One of Brené Brown’s recent podcast episodes highlights the fact that life has actually always been this way – and the past year, perhaps, gave me more tools to use when times get challenging.

Before diving headfirst into 2021 (because, let’s face it, we can’t wait to get some distance between us and 2020), I’ve done some reflecting upon where my business is at. It’s looking good, friends. Like many people, my work was slow in the spring and early summer. It’s now picked up, and I currently have more translation projects than even before the pandemic. Here are a few facts about Alison Trujillo Translations from the past year:

With that, I wish you health, happiness and personal and professional growth in 2021. I look forward to further connecting with all of you, and perhaps also providing you with translation services in the coming months.

WindowSwap Love

Picture, if you will, me sitting down to a workday lunch in my dining room. I’m taking a break from screen time, so I look out the window at the meadow and the trees. We have a “filtered” ocean view through the trees, and on really clear days you can make out the sparkle of the sun’s rays dancing over the surface of the Pacific Ocean.

Not too shabby, right? I love my view! Buuuuuut—these days, being at home so much means that even the most beautiful views can start to get old. Enter WindowSwap! Now I can sit and eat my lunch while looking out a window in, oh, I don’t know—Cairo? St. Petersburg? New York City? I love it, and it’s saving my sanity.

A husband-and-wife team developed this site. They say this is “a place on the internet where all we travel hungry fools share our ‘window views’ to help each other feel a little bit better till we can (responsibly) explore our beautiful planet again.”

If you haven’t visited WindowSwap, please do, and make sure your volume is turned on so you can hear the local sounds as well. I might submit my own window view, so perhaps you’ll stop by my dining room window. Happy “travels”!

Image courtesy of Business Insider.

5 Spanish Sayings and Their English Equivalents

Great translation captures the true meaning of something in the target language while also keeping it accessible and relatable for the reader. This is especially true for Spanish sayings and their English equivalents!

One of my most popular blog posts has been about Spanish dichos, or sayings. A translation colleague recently presented about proverbs from around the world at the annual American Translators Association conference, and this inspired me to write another post with some useful Spanish sayings. Here are five, with their English equivalents:

  1. “A mal tiempo, buena cara.” Literally: “In bad weather, a good face.”

In English, we would say: “Put on a brave face.” We could also say: “When life gives you lemons, make lemonade.”

2. “Dios los cría, y ellos se juntan.” Literally: “God breeds them, and they flock together.”

In English, we would probably say: “Birds of a feather flock together.”

3. “A cada cerdo le llega su San Martín.” Literally: “Every pig has its Saint Martin.”

Some villages in Spain celebrate the feast of Saint Martin of Tours on November 11 by slaughtering a pig. An English equivalent would be “You reap what you sow” (no pun intended) or “What goes around, comes around.”

4. “A caballo regalado, no le mires el diente.” Literally: “Don’t inspect the tooth of a gift horse.”

In English, we would say “Don’t look a gift horse in the mouth” or “Beggars can’t be choosers.”

5. “Aquel va más sano, que anda por lo llano.” Literally: “They who are healthiest walk on the plain.”

In English, we would say “Everything in moderation.”

As I finish up this post, we here in the U.S. are awaiting our presidential election results. Be kind to your American friends this week – we are on pins and needles!

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