Lost in Translation? Here's a Glossary of Key Terms for Effective Localization

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Localization terms

In the global economy, localization and translation are essential. However, for newbies, the terminology employed in localization and translation can be confusing. In this article, we will provide a comprehensive glossary of key terms in localization and translation, along with explanations and examples to help you better understand this important field.

Here are some examples to further illustrate the importance of understanding key terms in localization and translation:

Avoiding Costly Mistakes

Imagine a company has a marketing campaign for a new product that they plan to launch in several countries. They have created a slogan that works well in their native language, but they decide to use a machine translation tool to translate the slogan into other languages. As most translators can expect , the machine translation tool produces a translation that sounds awkward and confusing in the target language. This could lead to a failed marketing campaign, loss of revenue, and even damage to the company’s reputation. Simple understanding of key terms like “linguistic assets” and “transcreation” can help the company avoid this type of mistake by ensuring that their marketing message is effectively adapted to the target language and culture, rather than relying solely on machine translation.

Ensuring Consistency

Consider a company that regularly produces technical documents that need to be translated into multiple languages. Without a glossary of key terms and a translation memory, translators may use different terminology or translation styles for similar documents, leading to confusion and inconsistencies in the final product. Nobody likes it. So, knowing and using a translation memory that can store previously translated content and terminology, allows translators to reference and reuse the information in future translations, which ensures consistency and accuracy.

Improving Efficiency

Imagine a company is working on a project that requires a large volume of content to be translated into multiple languages within a tight deadline. A translator who is familiar with key terms like “machine translation”, “mtpe”, “tm pre-translation”, and “post-editing” can help speed up the process by identifying segments of content that can be translated automatically, and those that require human intervention. This can reduce the overall time and cost of the translation process, making it more efficient and cost-effective.

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Localization and Translation: Key Terms and Definitions

Whether you’re new to localization and translation or a seasoned professional, understanding key terms is essential to success in the field. In this section, we’ll break down important terminology so you can communicate effectively and avoid costly mistakes.


Internationalization (i18n) refers to the process of designing software or products to be adapted for multiple languages and cultures. It involves making sure that the product can be easily translated and localized, such as designing the interface to support right-to-left languages or using Unicode character encoding.


Localization (l10n) refers to the process of adapting content, such as software, websites, or marketing materials, to suit the linguistic and cultural preferences of a specific locale or region. This involves translating content into the target language, adapting graphics and design, and modifying content to suit local cultural preferences.

Continuous Localization

Continuous localization is an iterative process of updating and improving localized content in real-time as changes are made to the source content. It involves the use of technology, automation, and agile workflows to accelerate the localization process and ensure that content is always up-to-date and relevant for target audiences.

Source Language

The source language refers to the original language of the content that needs to be translated or localized.

Target Language

The target language refers to the language into which the content is being translated or localized.

Linguistic Asset

A linguistic asset refers to any resource that can be used to support the translation and localization process, such as translation memories, glossaries, style guides, or terminology databases.

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Translation Memory

A translation memory is a database that stores previously translated content, which can be used to speed up the translation process and ensure consistency in terminology and style across translations.

Machine Translation

Machine translation (MT) is the use of software to automatically translate content from one language to another. MT can be useful for translating large volumes of content quickly but can lack the nuance and accuracy of human translation.

(MT) Post-Editing

Post-editing involves reviewing and editing machine-translated text by a human translator to improve its accuracy and fluency. It is more effective to use machine translation as the primary progress, followed by human post-editing to improve the result, which is why MTPE is frequently used in circumstances when the volume of text to be translated is large and time-sensitive.

Localization Testing

Localization testing involves testing localized content, such as software or websites, to ensure that it works correctly in the target locale and that the translation and adaptation are accurate and effective.

Quality Assurance

Quality assurance (QA) is the process of ensuring that ‌translated or localized content meets the required quality standards, including accuracy, consistency, and cultural appropriateness.

Terminology Management

Terminology management involves creating and maintaining a glossary of key terms and phrases for a specific product or industry, to ensure consistency and accuracy across translations.

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Transcreation is the process of adapting marketing and advertising content for a specific locale or culture. It involves more than just translation, but also involves adapting the content to suit the cultural nuances and preferences of the target audience.


Subtitling involves adding written translations of spoken content, such as for films, YouTube videos, or TV shows. It involves ensuring that the translation accurately conveys the meaning and tone of the original dialog and can be read comfortably by the audience.

In-Context Translation

In-context refers to reviewing or testing translated content within its intended context, such as a software interface or website layout, to identify issues with layout, formatting, or functionality that may not be apparent in a simple translation review.

Best Practices for Localization and Translation

When starting to work in localization, in addition to key terms, it’s important to learn about the localization process, localization tools, cultural nuances, linguistic skills, target audience, and networking opportunities. By understanding these areas, you can develop the skills and knowledge needed to succeed in the industry. Meanwhile, we’d like to tell you about best practices that would definitely help you in your localization project.

Hire Experienced Localization and Translation Professionals

Hiring experienced professionals is one of the most important steps you can take to ensure a successful localization or translation project. Localization and translation require specialized skills and knowledge, and working with experienced professionals can help ensure quality and accuracy.

Use Tools like Translation Memory and Terminology Management to Streamline the Process

Translation and terminology management tools like Crowdin can help you with localization and translation, saving time and money. Translation Memory feature, for example, ensures that translations are consistent and accurate.

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Invest in Post-editing to Improve Machine Translation Output

Machine translation has improved a lot in recent years, but it still needs human help to be accurate and readable. Investing in post-editing services can help improve machine translation output, saving time and reducing costs while still maintaining quality.

Conduct Thorough Localization Testing to Ensure Quality and Accuracy

Localization testing is important to make sure content is accurate and of quality. Test layout, formatting, and functionality to find issues that may not be obvious in a translation review.

Final Thoughts

Localization and translation can be challenging, but with the correct skills and resources, they can be an effective tool for bridging cultural and geographic divides. You can ensure quality and accuracy in your localized content while also saving time and money by becoming familiar with industry jargon and best practices.

Keep in mind that translation and localization involve more than just text on a page. They aim to cross cultural barriers and promote understanding by establishing fresh and meaningful connections with people.

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Diana Voroniak

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