Social localisation

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Social localization[nb 1] (from Latin locus (place) and the English term locale, "a place where something happens or is set")[1] is, like language localization the second phase of a larger process of product and service translation and cultural adaptation (for specific countries, regions or groups) to account for differences in distinct markets and societies, a process known as internationalization and localization.

Localization and internationalization have been described in The Encyclopedia of Applied Linguistics as the "two key steps in the preparation and translation of digital content for international markets and have formed part of the globalization strategies of multinational digital publishers since the mid 1980s."[2]


The main objective of social localisation is the promotion of a demand-, rather than a supply-driven approach to localization. It is based on the recognition that it is no longer exclusively the corporations who control the global conversation, but the communities. Social localization supports user-driven and needs-based localisation scenarios - in contrast to mainstream localization, driven primarily be short-term financial return-on-investment (ROI) considerations.

Social localization has been connected to the nonmarket activities of the translation and localisation services sector by researchers reporting to the LINDWEB Conference, organized by the European Commission's DGT as the Language Industry Platform, allowing its stakeholders to meet in Brussels on 24 May 2012.[3] The concept of a 'nonmarket' approach to economics and to societal activities is a well-known concept and has been reported on in the context of the economics of development,[4] eductation[5] and poverty reduction,[6] for example.

Market and nonmarket localization[edit]

While market-driven mainstream translation and localization services in 2012 represented a US$33 billion industry, according to industry analysts Common Sense Advisory, the size of the nonmarket-driven social localization activities has so far not been quantified by industry analysts - most likely because of the lack of commercial interest on behalf of their clients. There are, however, indicators that provide a glimpse into the vast amount of nonmarket translation and localisation activities, among them: the worldwide movement to localise open source software into the languages of the world (including Open Office, Libre Office, and Mozilla); the initiatives to translate educational online content, including the TED Open translation project and the Khan Academy Translate our Lessons project; and the Wikimedia Foundation's Machine Translation Project, aiming at translating large amounts of Wikipedia articles into as many languages as possible with the help of advanced translation technologies and volunteers.

While the size of nonmarket social translation and localisation can only be estimated at the moment due to the lack of empirical studies, the impact of current localization models on people and societies that don't represent a market for the translation and localization industry have been described by [7]

A first attempt to capture the activities of organizations active in the non-market translation and localisation sector, focusing on Social Localisation, has been made by The Rosetta Foundation in a listing of Our Colleagues on The Rosetta Foundation's website.

Social Localisation Technology: SOLAS[edit]

The Localisation Research Centre developed a number of approaches to support social localisation which it defined in 2012 under its 'Service Oriented Localisation Architecture Solution (SOLAS)' (SOLAS = the Irish word for 'light'). SOLAS is organised in SOLAS Match, matching translation tasks with volunteers available, capable, and interested to take them up; and SOLAS Productivity, a range of open standards-based translation productivity technology and resources supporting the work of translators and localisers. The work of the LRC on SOLAS was supported by the Centre for Next Generation Localisation (CNGL), a Centre of Science, Engineering and Technology (CSET), co-funded by Science Foundation Ireland (SFI), Irish universities, and ten industrial partners.

SOLAS will be open sourced and continued as an Open Source Project by The Rosetta Foundation. A first version of a SOLAS component can be downloaded from the Localisation Research Centre's website.

Social Localisation - Events[edit]

10 October 2011, Silicon Valley, USA The idea of "Social Localisation" (or "Social Localization" for those who prefer the US-spelling) was introduced for the first time by the Director of the Localisation Research Centre at the University of Limerick, Reinhard Schäler, at a special session during the Localization World[8] Conference Silicon Valley on 10 October 2011.

27 October 2011, Dublin, Ireland The Rosetta Foundation launched its Social Localisation initiative at a special event in Dublin on 27 October 2011 aboard the Jeanie Johnston in the presence of volunteers, partner organizations and funders.

17–19 May 2012, Forlì, Italy The First International Conference on Non-Professional Interpreting and Translation

21–21 September 2012, Limerick, Ireland In 2012, the LRC Internationalisation and Localisation Conference, the LRC XVII of the world's longest running annual localisation events, was dedicated to Social Localisation. The keynote at this event was delivered by Twitter's International Product Lead, Thomas Arend: Social Localisation at Twitter- translating the world in 140 Characters.

Social Localisation - Media[edit]




  • @therosettafound
  • @socialloc
  • @dochasnetwork
  • @kvashee

Hash Tags[edit]

  • #socloc
  • #lrc
  • #cngl


  1. ^ The spelling "localization," a variant of "localisation," is the preferred spelling in the United States.

See also[edit]


  1. ^ "locale". The New Oxford American Dictionary (2nd ed.). Oxford University Press. 2005.
  2. ^ Schäler, R. (2010). Internationalization and Localization. In: Encyclopedia of Applied Linguistics
  3. ^ European Commission (2012), The LINDWEB Conference Report: DGT's Language Industry Platform meets its stakeholders in Brussels, 24 May 2012 [last visited: 13 December 2012)
  4. ^ Valentinov, V. (2008). Non-Market Institutions in Economic Development: The Role of the Third Sector. Development and Change Volume 39, Issue 3, pages 477–485, May 2008
  5. ^ Wolfe, B. and Zuvekas S. (1995). Nonmarket Outcomes of Schooling. Institute for Research on Poverty Discussion Paper no. 1065-95. (Last accessed: 13 December 2012))
  6. ^ Dasgupta, P. (1999). Poverty Reduction and Non-Market Institutions. University of Cambridge and Beijer International Institute of Ecological Economics, Stockholm. (last accessed: 13 December 2012).
  7. ^ Schäler, Reinhard (2012). Information Sharing across Languages, in: Kirk, Computer-Mediated Communication across Cultures (IGI Global).
  8. ^ The Localization World conference series is one of the leading conferences in the field.

External links[edit]