Localization and Translation Glossary


The ultimate glossary of localization and translation terms for your reference

Like many specialized disciplines, the translation and localization professions have their own dedicated terminology, which can seem arcane or repetitive to those new to the industry. Localization project management involves many specialized steps, tools, and processes. This Localization and Translation Glossary serves as an information resource, a means of educating a broad audience about localization, and a fast way to understand the usage and benefits of each described action or tool.

A critical resource for communicating across teams

Translation workflows involve many individuals, each with their specialized roles. Translation agencies, project managers, desktop publishing, professional translators, the client, and the target audience are all involved in the process. The industry-standard terms explained in this glossary can help ensure clear communication among these many players.

The intent here is to provide a valuable reference for anyone involved in localization, global marketing and distribution, product development, and the publishing and delivery of translated content, regardless of target language(s) or final formats.

The tools of localization demystified

The Glossary is current to today’s changing requirements, including large numbers of target languages, digital and agile development processes, and remote working environment support. Localization tools are constantly being refined with the increasing usage of machine translation (MT), machine learning, artificial intelligence, and other advanced translation tools. They are designed to speed time-to-market, reduce redundant and costly translation, facilitate communication, and ensure quality. These terms and processes, in addition to commonly used software like translation memory (TM) and computer-aided translation (CAT), are described in the glossary. Best business practices for various workflows are also covered.

Source and target languages, internationalization, continuous localization: clarifying the terminology

For many first encountering the terminology of localization, there can be a lot of confusion over the place of each term and their usage. This Glossary aims to provide a clear explanation, without assuming knowledge on the part of the reader. Terms mentioned in glossary entries are interlinked so any unfamiliar terms encountered can be easily cross-referenced. The Glossary is an agnostic tool, not making value judgments regarding the individual tools or processes themselves. It is intended to be an information resource.

A focus on business benefits

It was the intent from the beginning to not simply define a term but to show best practices for implementation and usage. Each entry contains a synopsis of the direct benefits of using these tools and processes to the company acquiring and marketing the translation(s). While not all terms apply to all translation and localization processes (some are specialized for product types and various cultural requirements), anyone new to the process or getting up to date will find it offers a strong overview of the language industry.

Explore the Localization and Translation Glossary, and let us know what you think

The goal is to provide localization professionals, businesses and organizations, linguists, and students with a useful reference. As definitions and applications change, the entries will be updated. And we would love your feedback and input for future versions. The global language market is expanding every day and the Glossary is here to help you navigate these exciting opportunities.