The Most Popular Languages for Localization in 2023

The world is becoming more connected each day, and localization is playing a significant role in bridging that gap. As more and more businesses set their sights on reaching global audiences, the importance of accurate and culturally sensitive language translations becomes increasingly apparent. In today’s market, English has taken the lead role as the most commonly localized language. However, in 2023, French surpassed it to become the most popular localization language. German and Italian closely followed, with Korean squeezing its way into the top five after a two-year climb. Let’s take a closer look at the ten most important languages for localization from English, according to LCP Localizations.

Leading the Pack: The Classic FIGS and Beyond

With the rapid development of the global market and increased international business activities, companies are exploring ways to compete locally by entering new markets in different locations. However, to be successful, it is crucial to communicate with your target audience in their own language. This is where localization comes in- adapting products or services for a particular country or region. 

For many years, the top four languages for localization which are widely known as the “classics of localization” are French, Italian, German, and Spanish, known as FIGS. Add in English, and they become EFIGS. Translating from English into these languages has always been in high demand and remains at the top of our list. Nonetheless, as we approach 2023, those considering localization should be aware of emerging languages. 

French, without a doubt, has always been the most popular choice for software localization. Surprisingly, one in every eleven translation orders from English is in French. Nevertheless, the demand for Italian localizations is catching up to German and Spanish. Despite these languages being equally popular, the gap between French and the other three languages remains substantial. 

If you are considering localization in these languages, the figures show a distribution where localization to French accounts for over 25% of the total localization orders, whereas the other three “classic” languages make up an average of 19%. 

Many guidebooks and studies suggest that these languages are highly influential in the business industry. However, that has started to change with the rise of other emerging nations. These nations, led by India and China, have started to make their mark on the global market, with their languages standing out as possible languages of choice. Factors such as the growing middle class and India’s progressive growth within the market are red flags that call for the inclusion in our list of emerging languages for localization. 

Language Distribution for Localization

Language Selection: Deciding Between Localization and Targeted Markets

When it comes to language localization, it can often be challenging to decide which language to choose. Should you pick the official language of the country where you have the most downloads, or choose the language that is most widely spoken worldwide? It’s a tough decision, especially when language and dialects can often vary from region to region, such as Spanish, which has different variants across Latin America and Spain.

Interestingly, Brazilian Portuguese ranks among the most demanded languages for our translation services, even though it isn’t spoken in Portugal, unlike Portuguese. According to our research and analysis, Brazilian Portuguese is primarily sought-after by our clients for localization in Latin America, especially in Brazil, which is one of the world’s top 10 economies with a high level of purchasing power. 

However, it’s not just the market and purchasing power that make a language or country an attractive target for localization. Different languages and regions present different opportunities and potential for game and app developers, requiring careful consideration when expanding the localization scope. For instance, French and Spanish are also among our most popular languages, yet they’re frequently requested for the European market. 

At LCP Translations, we know that each project has unique requirements and preferences, and there’s no one-size-fits-all solution when it comes to language localization. That’s why we aim to provide comprehensive information and insights into different markets, languages, and technologies to help our clients make informed decisions when choosing the best localization solutions.

Suppose you’re planning to venture into the Brazilian market, our market overview and localization tips for Brazil can be a helpful starting point. Moreover, our previous blog posts on software localization, tips for choosing the right video game localization agency, avoiding common mistakes in video game localization, and the ultimate guide to high-quality video game localization with TEP can avail additional insights for a successful localization strategy. 

Is the Size of the Speaker Base a Factor in Determining a Language’s Popularity for Localization?

Customers today are more demanding and knowledgeable than ever, and they expect high-quality localization services of all their products. Language translation and localization play crucial roles in ensuring worldwide communication and understanding. However, we get asked plenty of times whether the total number of speakers affects the language’s popularity for localization. Well, it depends. Surprisingly, the answer is “no” more often than “yes.” Take for instance our ranking of the most popular languages for localization in 2023, where we have found that even though the total number of Japanese speakers is about 140 million, they still rank 6th among the top languages.

Furthermore, with the vast number of languages spoken globally, choosing a localizing language that is most beneficial to your product might depend on several other factors. For instance, you might want to consider the ethnic distribution in your target markets, the development of your product, and the potentiality of localization costs when selecting a language. Many people typically believe that translation or the localization of products only involves European languages. Nevertheless, Asian-Pacific languages such as Chinese, Indonesian, or Japanese are increasingly becoming the international market’s driving forces. Thus, ensuring that your product caters to accurate localization from English, for instance, is an investment that pays off handsomely (“A guide for game Devs to reaching new markets and boosting profits“). 

If cost-effectiveness is a significant consideration, choosing languages spoken by a big population economically can be another consideration. For instance, Spanish and French might offer some attractions, considering the current connections between Latin America and North America and West Africa’s francophone areas. One noteworthy trend that is becoming increasingly evident is the influence of regional markets on language selection. Like in Eastern Europe, choosing Russian can unlock both social and cultural opportunities in countries that previously dominated by the Russian language.

In recent times, the gaming industry has also significantly contributed to the localization industry’s growth. In gaming, developers aim for the global market. However, it is not necessary to localize video games in all the languages spoken globally. Instead, developers performing market research to analyze their target audience and select the languages accordingly. It also means more software developments have features customized for the world’s diverse language speakers, particularly countries that use UTF-8 languages. By that, ensuring that you have an internationalized software means that upon translation into another language targeting the product to a new market will be easy. Remember, themes and stories of video games vary from one country to the next, hence a considerable need to ensure translation and localization are precise. You can use the best game localizers or even source the right information needed before deciding on boosting product localization.

What should you consider when choosing a language for localization?

When expanding your product into new markets, simply considering the total number of speakers of a language is not enough. There are several factors you should take into account in order to make an informed decision. Let’s explore some key considerations when choosing a language for localization.

First and foremost, you should consider the saturation of the market. It’s important to determine if there is a demand for your product in the target market. Research the competition and assess their level of activity in that market. This information will help you gauge the potential success of your product in that particular language.

Another factor to consider is the payment capacity of the target audience. Determine the purchasing power of the market and whether your product aligns with their spending habits. This will ensure that you are targeting an audience who can afford and would be willing to invest in your product.

Additionally, the level of proficiency in English within the target market plays a significant role. If the proficiency is high, it might be necessary to adapt your content to cater to this audience. However, if the proficiency level is low, localizing your product into the native language becomes even more crucial for effective communication and engagement with the target audience.

It is also important to consider the prevalence of other languages in the country. In some regions, there may be multiple languages spoken, and it may be necessary to localize your product into multiple languages to cater to a broader audience. Research the language preferences and usage statistics in the target market to make an informed decision.

In order to build the most promising promotional strategy, you need to choose a specific goal: the quality of users or the number thereof. This decision will influence your localization strategy and the resources you allocate towards it. Consider your marketing objectives and align your language selection accordingly.

When it comes to localizing a game or application, the initial steps will depend on your budget. Typically, clients start by localizing the product interface, translating help documentation, and the website simultaneously. For mobile applications, descriptions and screenshots for app stores are also localized. If there are local marketing campaigns, advertising content such as text ads, banners, and promotional videos should also be translated.

Once the investment in promoting the product in the new market proves successful, you can take it a step further by localizing materials for the community. This often includes running product groups on social media platforms and providing support to users in their native language. It’s important to foster a sense of connection and engagement with your target audience to create a loyal customer base.

For more information on the importance of software localization, tips for choosing the right localization agency for your video game, and other related topics, visit our blog

Conclusion

In today’s globalized world, localization has become an essential factor for businesses looking to reach international audiences. The most popular languages for localization from English have seen some shifts in 2023. While the classic FIGS languages (French, Italian, German, and Spanish) have traditionally dominated the field, French has taken the lead as the most popular localization language, followed closely by German and Italian. Additionally, emerging languages such as Korean have started gaining traction. It’s crucial for businesses to consider these language trends and adapt their localization strategies accordingly to effectively communicate and connect with their target audiences.

FAQ:

Does the total number of speakers affect the language's popularity for localization?

The total number of speakers alone doesn't necessarily determine a language's popularity for localization. Factors like market demand, ethnic distribution in target markets, development of the product, and localization costs also play significant roles in language selection.

What should you consider when choosing a language for localization?

When selecting a language for localization, consider factors such as market saturation, purchasing power of the target audience, proficiency in English, prevalence of other languages in the country, and your marketing objectives. It's important to make an informed decision based on research and analysis to maximize the success of your product in the target market.

How should you approach localization for gaming and applications?

Start by localizing the product interface, help documentation, website, and mobile application descriptions and screenshots. If applicable, translate advertising content for local marketing campaigns. As your product gains traction, consider further localization efforts such as running community groups on social media platforms and providing support in the native language to foster connection and engagement with your target audience.

Where can I find more information on software localization and related topics?

For more information on software localization, tips for choosing the right localization agency for your video game, and other related topics, visit our blog. Our blog provides comprehensive insights and resources to help you make informed decisions and achieve successful localization strategies.