Localization glossary

Glossary of translation and localization terms

It doesn’t matter whether you are experienced in localization or not, some terms may still raise a question. We decided to make a glossary with the most common terms and acronyms related to localization and translation.

Agile localization

A set of practices to merge localization and translation into an agile product development cycle. Learn more about agile localization.


Acronym for Application Programming Interface. It is a software intermediary that makes it possible for applications to interact with each other and share data.

CAT (tools)

Computer-Assisted Translation (tools). This software helps to translate more efficiently. Designed to cut the translator’s workload and increase consistency. Nothing related to cats.

Collaborative translation

An approach to the translation where a group of people works together in a translation project in a collaborative online workspace. The goal is to improve quality and cut total translation time.


Do Not Translate. Usually used for brand names, trademarks, etc.

Fuzzy matching

Technique used by CAT tools to look for phrases, sequences of words within a translation memory. It works with matches that are not 100% exact matches.

101% matching

When the text of a string matches the text of a string and the context in the translation memory.


Acronym for globalization, internationalization, localization, and translation.


The process by which businesses or other organizations develop international influence or start operating on an international scale. Also, called G11n.


A list of terms and definitions in a specific localization project. It explains what the terms mean and how to translate them and whether to translate them at all, e.g. the brand and feature names.


Graphical User Interface. It is a form of user interface that allows users to interact with electronic devices through graphical icons and visual indicators.

In-context translation

The possibility for the translator to see the environment in which the word or sentence is used. Basically, a mechanism which shows the source text along other content or graphical elements (e.g. background image, product screenshots).


The design and development of a product, app or document content that allows to easily localize them for target audiences that vary in culture, region, or language. Also referred to as I18n.


Unique identifiers that are used for representing text in your code, in your files or elsewhere. When you compose a language-specific version of your product, these identifiers are replaced with the corresponding values in a particular language. In few file formats, such as .po, base language values serve as keys.

Language code

A code that assigns letters or numbers as identifiers or classifiers for languages. For example, ES = Spanish.

Language pair

Languages in which a translator or interpreter/translator can provide services.

Language service provider

Also referred to as LSP. An organization or business that supplies language services, such as translation, localization, or interpretation.

Literal translation

A translation that closely follows the phrasing, order and sentence construction of the source text. Usually this type of translation has bad quality.


This is the combination of a language and specific geographic region (usually a country) where terminology is adapted for specific content and design.


This is an adaptation of a product, app or document to meet the language, cultural and other requirements of a locale. Localization also includes time and date differences, currency, symbols, etc.

Localization software

Localization software tools aim to minimize manual and repetitive localization work for software development teams.

Localization testing

The verification and validation of the localization done for a software application.

Machine translation

A software-based process that translates content from one language to another without human intervention.

Multilingual workflow

Automation of business processes by managing multilingual content. Usually done using a translation management system, machine translation, and translation memory.

Post-edited machine translation

When a translation is made automatically by the software, it can (and should) be reviewed by human translators. After they do that, Machine Translation turns to Post-Edited Machine Translation.


Checking a translated text to identify and correct spelling, grammar, syntax, coherency and other errors.


The process of faking the translation of software or web applications before starting to localize the product for real. It is used to verify that the user interface is capable of containing the translated strings (length) and to discover possible internationalization issues.

Quality assurance

The process of determining whether a product or service meets specified requirements. Also, referred to as QA.


Right to Left. This is a specific term to call languages that are written and read in the right to left direction, not usual left to right. Example: Hebrew, Arabic, Urdu, Persian.


Software Development Kit. An SDK or dev kit provides a set of tools, libraries, relevant documentation, code samples, processes, guides that allow developers to create software applications on a specific platform.


Phrase, sentence or piece of text that represents a cognitive unit and used when searching for a match in a translation memory.

Source file

A file that contains the original strings that will be used as a base language for translations.

Source language

Original language of text which has to be translated into another language.

Target language

Language into which text is translated.


The process of re-developing or adapting content from one culture to another, while transferring its meaning and maintaining its intent, style, and voice.


The degree to which a text can be translated into another language.


The act of converting the meaning of a text from one language into another, accurately reproducing not just the meaning but the tone as well. Also, referred to as t9n.

Translation management system

Is a program that helps to make the process of localization faster, easier and more efficient. There a few TMS out there, all of them have different features, try one before you buy, of course.

Translation memory

This is a database which stores all your previous translations. Will suggest translations for future projects to save time.

Translation memory leverage

The amount of text is a given source that has a previously stored translation in the translation memory. It gives a better estimation of how much new translation work needs to be done.


XML Localization Interchange File Format. A single interchange file has to be provided in a format that can be understood by any localization provider. XLIFF is the preferred way of exchanging data in XML format in the translation industry.


Abbreviation for eXtensible markup language. Metadata language used to describe other markup languages. Commonly abbreviated XML.

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