The Key to a forgotten Region - Localization for South America

· 4 min read

Today you’re invited to cash your plane ticket. Hopp on, we’re going to the south. Our destination is a continent, home of more than 393 million people, living in 12 different countries. The most common languages spoken by the population are Portuguese and Spanish. Ready for takeoff? :)

localization southamerica final

I’m pretty sure you already know where our journey through the world’s translation markets takes you today. Right, it’s South America. To dive deeper into the continent the regional translation market is analyzed to identify potentials in localization for South America.

Language Diversity at its finest

With 37 language families and 448 languages spoken on the continent, South America is one of the most diverse areas around the globe concerning languages. There are 9 languages officially spoken consisting mainly of Indo-European languages imposed by the European colonization:

  • Aymara
  • Dutch
  • English
  • French
  • Guaraní
  • Papiamento
  • Portuguese
  • Quechua
  • Spanish

Alongside these Indo-European languages numerous indigenous languages are spoken. In some countries they are respected as co-official languages. Looking deeper at a specific region shall give you an overview of the diversity within indigenous languages. In Brazil 180 indigenous languages are spoken among various tribes.

pt-PT vs pt-BR

When looking more closely at this impressive language diversity, differences between European Portuguese (pt-PT) and Brazilian Portuguese (pt-BR) stand out. Both are official languages in their particular country and differ in some points:

  • pt-PR and pt-BR are marked by a different pronunciation. The sound and melody of Brazilian Portuguese is considered to be softer and smoother.
  • There are some slight differences in grammar as well. The word order varies and Brazilians tend to replace the imperative by the indicative mode in common speech.
  • The two versions of Portuguese also differ in vocabulary and spelling:
     Portuguese (Portugal) Portuguese (Brazil) English
    Olá! Oi! Hi!
    o cão o cachorro dog
    porquê? por quê? Why?
    o génio o gênio genius

Mobile and Internet Penetration speaking for themselves

By diving deeper into the mobile market even more potentials in localization for South America can be discovered. In terms of mobile adoption and hiring of mobile services Latin America has been a region dominated by a strong growth over the past years:

  • 54% of Latin American smartphone users have already purchased via their smartphone.
  • Mobile commerce in Brazil grew by 83% between 2013 and 2014.
  • 15% of all online payments transacted in Argentina are made with smartphones.
  • Donald A. DePalma discovered that 85.3% of 2,400 people participating in an survey considered purchase information in their native language as crucial when buying online.
  • The number of mobile users in Latin America will rise up to around 374 million by 2017.
  • By 2013 a milestone has been reached. The mobile market size rose up to $107 billion/year.
Making up for 8% of the world’s population, South America accounts for 10% of the global mobile market!

Ranked third (104%) in terms of mobile penetration right behind Eastern and Central Europe (154%) and Western Europe (129%) underlines the importance of localization for South America.

When cutting mobile penetration down on smartphone penetration per capita a steady growth estimated to reach 43.2% by 2018 can be viewed. Statista illustrates the smartphone penetration in Latin America over the years:


The mobile industry drives the the region’s GDP. In 2013 the mobile industry accounted for 3.8% of the regional GDP. It’s further expected to increase by 0.1% and reach 4% within this year.

Sum up

In the past South America has been overtaken by Asia and and almost forgotten by the United States and Europe.

Sucked halfway down the road to economic development in the past, South America has been “the forgotten country” according to Multilingual. All this stats and figures dominated by growth point out enormous potentials in localization for South America. The huge growth rates adumbrate that the end hasn’t been reached yet and show that the region can’t be forgotten again. Localization is the key to open “the door to South America”.

The dollar sign ($) frequently used to refer to the U.S. dollar is used in Latin America to point out local currency. There’s another difference in the way money is written. In the U.S. $1,000.00 is the common spelling, while in Latin American Spanish $ 1.000,00 is used. 

Also discover other regions we’ve already analyzed on our “journey around the globe”. The U.S., Europe and Asia are waiting to be discovered by you! :)


[1] [2] [3] [4]

Clock calendar notifications in harmony

Start your 14-day free trial