Australian localisation – why it’s important

Language is created by culture, and reflects the history of the culture. This is obvious when visiting any country with a large English-speaking population. Despite technically speaking the same language, there are many different varieties of English. American English and British English are known for containing many differences, and Australian English further exemplifies the differences present in the languages.

Australia is one of the largest mixed-markets in the world, and the 12th largest economy.

Doing business in Australia is considered a fairly easy undertaking, with over 1,000 British business already operating in the country.

What is localisation?

Localisation is more than simply translating from one language to another, it is completely adapting the source text to a new locale, and thus a new culture.

Localisation can include changes in spelling, word choices, and many more aspects.

This enables a greater level of engagement with your business in newer locations, thus maximising the potential for success.

Difference between UK English and Australian English

Australian English is considered to have more in common with British English, and New Zealand English. Although there are also many borrowed words, it has less in common with American and Canadian English.

Australia uses the metric system, with imperial units slowly being removed from common use from 1971. It is necessary to localise any units of data into the necessary metric format, this makes it far easier for the local audience to understand material. I’m sure we have all had to convert data from imperial to metric, or vice versa, in order to fully understand it!

Some items favour words completely different from American and British English – footpath instead of either ‘pavement’ or ‘sidewalk’, or ‘capsicum’ instead of a ‘red/green pepper’ or a ‘bell pepper’.

Many slang terms are different in Australia, as is the case with any form of English. Although this might be less of an issue for formal business purposes, it is still vital to be aware of this when trying to engage with the local market. Australians often shorten words to form diminutives, e.g. afternoon becomes ‘arvo’.

There are about 5,000 diminutives that have been identified in Australian English, and using these for a more colloquial advertising project could allow you to truly connect with the culture.

Why should content be localised for Australian audiences?

Not localising content creates a clear separation that could otherwise be avoided entirely. Content being correctly localised bridges the gap between cultures and demonstrates a greater willingness to be flexible and work together. Think about the last time you visited a shopping website and the price was automatically in something other than your own currency. A localised website may be the difference in terms of getting your customers to engage with your business, or them looking elsewhere.

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