Web globalization glossary

Glossary of globalization terminology


Hiring another translator or translation agency to tell you what your translated text is saying. This step is sometimes used by companies as a method of auditing the quality of their translation.

Bi-directional language (bidi)

Text that flows in both directions, such as Arabic and Hebrew, in which numerals are read from left to right and the text is read from right to left.


Acronym for country code top-level domain, such as .fr for France, .de for Germany, and .it for Italy. Country codes are based on the ISO 3166 international standard; a full list is available at http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/ISO_3166-1.

CAT (computer-aided translation)

A broad term that may include a wide range of software tools designed to help translators work more quickly and/or improve the quality of their work. CAT tools range from electronic bilingual dictionaries to translation memory software.

Change order

When the scope of a translation or localization project expands, an agency will issue a change order that the client must approve before the additional work can be completed. Change orders can quickly turn an on-time and under-budget project into a painful experience for both clients and agencies. The key to avoiding change orders is to work closely with your agency to minimize any last-minute changes or additions.

Domain Name

A unique alphanumeric text string that identifies a particular computer or domain (such as amazon.com). The domain name consists of two parts: the top-level domain (.com) and second-level domain (amazon). With regard to web globalization, the top level domain is often a country code domain, such as ".mx" for Mexico or ".fr" for France.


An abbreviation frequently used in the translation industry to refer to French, Italian, German, and Spanish – the four major Western European languages.


Geolocation is the process of identifying an Internet user's geographic location without that user having to input any data. The web server looks at the web user's IP address and then consults a directory to identify the location of the IP address. It is not a perfect solution, particularly for identifying where AOL users are based, but it is successful enough to be used by more and more companies.

Globalization (g11n)

For our purposes, globalization refers to the process of adapting a business and its products and promotions to a new audience, typically one that is in a different country. Globalization encompasses internationalization and localization.

Internationalization (i18n)

The process of creating products and/or supporting materials so they can be easily localized.

L10N, L10n

The abbreviation for localization. The number refers to the number of letters between L and n.

Language Negotiation

Also known as content negotiation, it is the process of detecting a web user's language preference and then responding with web content in that language, if it is available. Web browsers send the language preference automatically and may be overridden manually by the web user. If the web site does not have content in the user's language, the web server may be configured to send a second language, such as English.

Language Pair

The combination of source language and target language, such as EN > FR (English translated into French). The arrow indicates the source and target languages. A translator will specialize in one language pair, typically his or her native language and one additional language. The native language will usually be the target language.


A combination of language and region or country, such as French/Canada or English/UK. A number of attributes are often associated with a locale, such as number format, time and date formats, measurements, and currency.

Localization (L10N, L10n)

The process of adapting products and/or supporting materials for a locale. The process may include translation, re-design and technical and cultural modifications.

Machine Translation (MT)

The process of translating from one human language into another using software. The term originates from the days when computers were called machines. The most popular MT application is Babel Fish (world.altavista.com).

MLV (multi-language vendor)

A translation vendor who specializes in multiple language pairs, such as Western European languages.

Source Language

The language one translates from.

Splash Page

An extra "first" or "front" page of a web site, usually containing a "click-through" logo or message, announcing that you have arrived. Splash pages are increasingly being used for global gateways.

SLV (single language vendor)

A translation vendor who specializes in one language pair, such as English to/from Spanish.

Target Language

The language one translates into.

Translation Memory (TM)

The process and software tools that automate the re-use of previously translated terms and sentences. The larger a translation memory grows, the more valuable it generally becomes because it reduces the number of source words that require translation.


Acronym for user Interface. In the context of web pages and web services, the UI includes the elements that the user sees and interacts with, such as navigation menus, input forms, and search windows.


A universal coded character set designed to include the characters from all the world’s major languages. Unicode Version 3.1 contains 94,140 encoded characters. For more information, visit the Unicode Consortium at www.unicode.org.