L10n Terminology

Artwork by Yifan Ren

New to localization and need some help navigating the sea of acronyms used in the industry? Browse our terminology list to find out what these terms mean and how to use them!

Core Concepts

Globalization (G11n)

The process by which businesses or other organizations develop international influence or start operating on an international scale. (Lokalise)

Internationalization (I18n)

The process of designing a product or content to ensure that it can be localized into various regions and countries with minimal effort. (Phrase)

Localization (L10n)

The adaptation of a product or service to meet the needs of a particular language, culture or desired population’s “look-and-feel.” (Lokalise)


The process of re-developing or adapting content from one culture to another while transferring its meaning and maintaining its intent, style, and voice. This process often required skilled translators fluent in the source and target languages and need multiple rounds of proofreading. (Lokalise)

Translation (T9n)

The act of converting the meaning of a text from one language into another, accurately reproducing not only the meaning but also the tone. (Lokalise)

Organizations & Standards


the International Organization for Standardization, an organization which develops and publishes proprietary, industrial, and commercial standards. (Investopedia)

TAUS (Translation Automation User Society)

a community which aims to empower translation through technological innovation and cross-industry collaboration. (TAUS)

TMX (Translation Memory eXchange)

an industry standard format for representing and exchanging translation memory data. (LISA)

TBX (TermBase eXchange)

an industry standard format for representing and exchanging terminological data. (LISA)


a character coding system that defines every character in most languages of the world. UTF-8 is the most common Unicode coding scheme. (PCMag)


DTP (Desktop Publishing)

Any work related to page layout software. In localization, DTP is spoken about in the context of rearranging and reformatting text or visuals after the translation has been completed. 

Example: “Wow, the Japanese translation for the text on this poster is much longer than the original English and makes the text go off the page. Can we get someone to do DTP on this to fix that?” 

Common DTP software: Microsoft Office (Word, Excel, PowerPoint), Adobe programs (Photoshop, Illustrator, InDesign)

Localization Engineering

the technical work which enables translation and localization. This can include file processing, implementing translations in code, and assisting with testing. (Smartling)

LPM (Localization Project Manager)

Given the complexity of the localization process, it is necessary to find someone in charge of everything – a project manager. An LPM oversee sand manages each stage in a localization team, such as translation, DTP, technical challenges, and final reviews. 

Example: “We need to recruit an experienced LPM to oversee this localization project so that we can ensure every member in different groups is on the same page.” 

LVM (Localization Vendor Manager)

The liaison between the in-house team and the scores of providers, primarily freelancers and corporate subcontractors, handling outsourced linguistic work. Vendor Management also maintains relationships within a company. (Slator)  

Example: “As a freelancer’s central point of contact at an LSP, the LVM needs to ensure that the freelancer always feels connected and engaged.” (Slator)  


API (Application Programming Interface)

a set of rules which allows different applications to communicate with one another. In localization, an API can be used to connect content management systems to translation or localization software. (Bureau Works)

CAT (Computer-Assisted Translation) Tool

Any tool that assists a translator during the translation process. Common features built into CAT tools include translation memories, termbases, quality assurance checks, and a workbench for doing translation that consists of the “source” text segments on one side and the “target” text (translations) on the other side. 

Example: “Every time we receive a document for translation we put it into our CAT tool, which segments the document into sentences to make it easier to translate.” 

Common CAT tools: SDL Trados, memoQ, Phrase, Wordfast 

CMS (Content Management System)

Software that allows each stakeholder in a localization team to oversee and participate in the project. All the work shared on a CMS is editable by every team member. Furthermore, many TMSes are connected to a CMS to enhance their efficiency in project management. 

Example: “We have to go into the CMS by Friday to correct some errors on the site made by our former marketing teams.” 

Common examples of a CMS: WordPress, Drupal 

TB (Termbase)

A terminology “database” that consists of a term and its corresponding translation in other languages, as well as other related info such as the subject field the term is being used in. It is important to note that termbases are made on the level of individual words (or expressions), whereas translation memories are made on the level of phrases, sentences, and paragraphs. 

Example: “When you want to translate something with lots of technical terms, it’s probably a good idea to make a termbase for those words so that you always translate them the same way.” 

TEnT (Translation Environment Tool)

People who use this term may point out that since CAT tools are technically defined as anything that assists a translator during translation, something as simple as a spellchecker could count as a CAT tool, so the term translation environment tool is used specifically to refer to software that pulls together many different CAT tools into a workbench a translator can work in. Only a minority of people in the industry use this term; most simply say “CAT tool.” 

Example: “We’re comparing a bunch of different TEnTs to see which would be the best for our translators to work in.” 

TMS (Translation Management System)

Software in which a project manager can supervise and manage different parts of translation work within a project or across multiple projects. A TMS enables project managers to be fully aware of where each translator is currently in the process. 

Example: “Translators, don’t forget to regularly check the TMS to ensure that we aren’t missing project deadlines.” 

Common examples of a TMS: SDL WorldServer, Phrase, XTM, Wordbee, Plunet, XTRF 

TM (Translation Memory)

A “database” of previously translated segments for a pair of languages. These are very useful in translation because if you want to translate a segment similar to something you’ve already translated before, a TM will provide your previous translation as a reference so you don’t have to translate from scratch. 

Example: “When the client sent us their project, we analyzed it and saw many matches with segments from their TM, so there are very few segments that our translators have to translate from scratch.” 

Software Localization

Externalized Strings

alternative to hard-coded strings; text strings which are loaded from an external source such as a text file allowing for efficient localization.

Hard-coded Strings

alternative to externalized strings; text strings which cannot be altered in any way except by changing the source code itself.


the process of simulating software localization before actually beginning localization. Pseudolocalization is used to verify that the user interface is capable of displaying the translated strings and to discover possible internationalization issues.


LSP (Language Service Provider)

A type of service that enables communication between a brand and audiences outside their language and culture. (Smartling)  

Example: “If you are a business looking to enter a new market with languages and cultures outside of your own, then you need an LSP to help your brand effectively communicate with your unique audience.” (Smartling)  

LQA (Linguistic/Language Quality Assurance)

A process in which human linguists review translations and, using a set methodology or outline of a plan, determine if they contain any objective errors. Unlike QA, LQA is specific to the native speaker of the target language. (Smartling)  

Example: “After using machine translation to translate a document, it’s essential to have a QA check to ensure everything in the target language is cohesive, smooth, and understandable.” 

QA (Quality Assurance)

In localization, this is the method used to assess whether content serves targeted audiences. It’s a process of analysis that goes into depth with how content is received and consumed. (Blend)  

Example: “When creating a new product, it’s crucial to run a QA check to ensure the product works for the user.”