Cultural Differences When Localizing Websites

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Date Submitted: 08/20/2012 11:32 PM

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Cultural Differences When Localizing Websites

Owais Islam



Kaplan University


I am going to discuss what happens when webmasters attempt to localize their websites for different cultures and regions of the world. I will look at one or two mistakes that may happen due to localization. I have selected one translation engine that I will attempt to analyze. I also compared the different localized versions of a major corporation’s website. I do think it is important we make note of what we put on the Internet and how it may offend or not make sense to certain people.

Cultural Differences When Localizing Websites

When publishing websites on the Internet, we must be aware of what our site will look like to people in other countries. By doing this, we can make sure that our site is not offensive or incorrect to someone in another country. Sites like Google Translate ( can do a decent job in translating words, sentences, and whole web pages, but there are some limitations. Idioms, similes, metaphors, and other grammar quirks may not make sense when translating to another language.

My native tongue is actually Urdu and not English. When using an English expression like “hit the road”, Google Translate will translate the phrase into Urdu, but will translate it literally where it does not make sense. Conversely there is a phrase in Urdu that translates roughly into English as “as the work, as the reward”. What is really trying to be said though is “the ends justify the means”.

I played around with Google Translate for a while and found that it does indeed do a great job of translating sentences and phrases, so long as they don’t contain too many quirky parts of speech. I had it translate the front page in to Urdu and surprisingly it did a pretty good job. Now obviously there are many sports in the United States that are not played in Pakistan and so relevant words in...