Glossary of Translation and Localization Terms

March 3, 2024
8 minutes
Glossary of Translation and Localization Terms
Translation and localization are vital for any wanting to expand into new markets. Let’s take a closer look at what they are together, shall we?
Table of Contents

Whether you’ve already got experience with localization or not, some terms can cause confusion, not to mention many key abbreviations and jargon. We’ve decided to compile a comprehensive glossary of translation and localization terms to help demystify things for you.

Read on to learn more…

Application Programming Interface (API)

Application Programming Interface (API) is a software tool that allows certain computer applications to communicate with each other and exchange data.

Computer Aided Translation (CAT)

Computer-Aided Translation (CAT) is a process in translators use software to do their work more effectively and accurately. CAT tools typically include the following features: translation memory, synonyms, import/export, and final product.

Collective Translation

Collective translation is where a group of translators/linguists work collaboratively on a translation project online, namely in the name of improving quality and shortening the translation process. CAT tools make teamwork even more convenient, to boot.

Concordance Search

A concordance search is when the translator searches for words or phrases within a translation memory database, thereby allowing to produce more accurate work, and faster.

Content Management System (CMS)

Content Management Systems (CMS) are pieces of software that help people who don’t know HTML how to manage website content more effectively. Common CMS tools include WordPress, HubSpot, Drupal and Joomla.


Do Not Translate (DNT) is often used for brand names, trademarks, and other important phrases that need to remain as is in the source language.

Fuzzy Match

Fuzzy matches are auxiliary indicators used by computer-aided translation (CAT) tools to find and reveal similar expressions and word sequences within the translation memory database. They appear when matches aren’t 100% exact. Moreover, they save both time and cost in the translation process, especially for companies that regularly commission translation projects.

101% match

101% matches refer to when given translation segments completely match the text and context in translation memory.


GILT is acronym that stands for Globalization, Internationalization, Localization, and Translation.


Globalization (g11n) is when companies and organizations expand their operations into the international arena, and the process thereof.

Glossary of Terms

A glossary of terms is a list of terms and their definitions specific to a particular localization project. They provide linguists insight into what terms mean, how they ought to translate them, and whether certain titles (brand or otherwise, e.g. DNT) need to be translated or left as be.

Context-Based Translation

Context-based translation allows linguists to see the context in which a word, phrase, or whole sentence appears. Generally speaking, it serves as a mechanism to display the source text alongside other content or visual elements – in other words, in context – for localization purposes.

Global SEO

Global SEO is the practice of optimizing your website so that you rank higher in different search engines across different countries and languages. If you approach global SEO strategically, you can tap into online business’s true potential and draw international traffic and sales. When you know the right techniques to, then the sky’s your limit.


Internationalization (i18n) is when you design and develop software and mobile apps in such a way they can easily be adapted for different cultures, regions, and target audiences.

‍Language Code

A language code is a letter or number-based code used for classifying languages and their regional varieties, e.g. ES = Spanish.

‍Language Pair

Language pairs are any combination of two languages from and/or into which translators or interpreters work.

Language Service Provider (LSP)

Language service providers (LSP) are any organization or business that offer professional language services, such as translation, localization, or interpreting.

Literal Translation

Literal (or mot-a-mot) translation is when linguists translate the source content word by word, preserving the original language’s form and sentence structure. The results are often poor quality because different languages and cultures view the world, think, tick, and express themselves in their own unique way.


Localization is the process of adapting software, websites, and mobile apps for different language groups, countries, and regions – including (but not limited to) time, date, currency, symbols, and cultural elements. It’s way more than mere translation.

Localization Testing

Localization testing is the process of verifying and validating newly localized software and mobile apps, namely to find out how the suitable the end product is for the target language and culture.

‍Machine Translation

Machine translation (MT) is when specially-designed software translates content from one language into another – without human intervention. They’re good for projects with tight deadlines, but are nowhere near a good quality-wise as anything produced by a human translator.

Markup Languages

Markup languages – namely HTML, XML, and XHTML – exist to dictate the formatting, layout, and style of web content. They frequently use tags to achieve this: e.g: a phrase between <b> and </b> is written in bold-face font. Linguists must translate tagged content as well.

Multilingual Workflow

Multilingual workflow refers to automating business operations by managing multilingual content. Linguists frequently rely on translation management systems, machine translations, and translation memory banks to achieve this, for all of the above allow you to effectively process and manage content in different languages.

Post-Machine Translation Editing

Post-machine translation editing is when human linguists review and correct translations carried out exclusively by translation software. It both improves the efficiency of machine translation and ensures accurate manual-like translation.


Proofreading is when linguists check translated text for proper spelling, grammar, syntax, consistency, and other errors.

Quality Control (QA)

Quality control (QA) is the process of testing products or services to ensure they meet certain localization and/or internationalization requirements.

Right to Left (RTL)

Right to Left (RTL) refers to languages whose scripts are written from right to left – e.g. Hebrew, Arabic, Urdu, and Persian Farsi. Most languages, by contrast, go from left to right.

Software Development Kit (SDK)

Software Development Kits (SDK) provides developers a range of tools, libraries, related documentation, code samples, operations, and guides that help them create software apps on a given platform.


Segments are sentences or chunks of text with which you can use to search up matches in translation memory banks.



Segmentation is when you break down large translation blocks into smaller, bite-size chunks. It allows translators to process and localize longer texts faster, work more efficiently, all the while beefing up their translation memory banks to boot.

Source File

Source files are any file containing the original or source text to be translated.

Source Language

A source language is the language of the original text to be translated.

Target Language

A target language is the language INTO WHICH the source text is to be translated.


Transcreation is the act of recreating and editing the source text upon translating it into the target language(s). Whilst linguists are expected to do their best to preserve the original purpose, style and tone, they should be versed in the target and source cultures as well. Proofreading may be required afterwards.


Translatability is the ability (or inability) to translate a text from one language to another.


Translation is the act of reproducing text from one language into another, all the while accurately preserving its intended message, tone, and style.

Translation Management System (TMS)

Translation management systems (TMS) are pieces of software help translators and translation companies alike carry out every aspect of localization faster, easier, and more efficiently. Choosing the right TMS for your business can make everybody’s lives significantly easier.

‍Translation Memory

Translation memory banks are databases that store your previous translations for future reference, thereby saving you time in later projects.

Leveraged Translation Memory

Leveraged translation memory is amount of text previously stored in your translation memory bank for a given source document. This helps you better estimate how much new translation work you have to do, and how much overlap there is.