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Useful Translation and Localisation Terms

Translation (and localisation) terms that you need to know!

Expanding into new markets can be a daunting task! Not least because there are numerous translation terms and concepts which may be unfamiliar. Using a Language Service Provider (such as QuickSilver Translate) can make this process much smoother. However, here are a few common translation (and localisation) terms and concepts to help you get started.

CAT Tools (Computer Assisted Translation)

CAT tools are software used by human translators to optimise the translation process. The translation is created by a human, facilitated by software. This is in contrast with machine translation (MT), in which the translation is performed by a computer, with some human intervention (e.g. pre- and post-editing).

CAT tools have (a) the ability to translate a variety of source file formats in a single editing environment which can by organised in various ways, (b) translation memory, and (c) integration of various utilities or processes that increase productivity and improve consistency in translation. Using CAT tools can improve the quality of a translation, reduce the time it takes, and reduce the costs associated.

Translation Memory (TM)

CAT tools split a source text into manageable units known as ‘segments’ (a sentence or phrase). The software then builds databases of equivalent segments in different languages. The databases of these matching segments form a Translation Memory (TM). Therefore, if the same segment appears again in future projects, the TM (database) will offer the ‘remembered’ translation as a suggestion.

This enables a consistency of translation in the work we do. Naturally, we build a TM for each of our clients. So regardless of which translator works on a given text, we use consistent terminology in all translations for them. TMs also enable us to store industry-related terms, guaranteeing a precise and accurate translation of technical vocabulary. Translation Memories improve workflow and allow greater flexibility in translation. TM databases adapt themselves to the needs of different clients and different contexts. They are highly customisable, and the bigger they get, the better!

Find out more: Optimising with Translation Memory

Language combinations and variations

A language combination is a pair of languages: the ‘source’ (original language) and ‘target’ (the language you’re translating into). If you are translating a document from English into Spanish, your language combination is English-Spanish. A language variation is a regional version of a language, such as GB English or US English. So, for example, your Project Manager will need to know if your translation should be into European Spanish or Latin-American Spanish.

Find out more: Which language variations should you translate into?

Original files

You can, of course, send your text in any format you like — email or google docs are fine! However, if you want us to deliver a finished, translated document that is ready to deploy, we will need the original file that the document was created in (ie. InDesign, Word, PowerPoint, etc…. not a PDF). We will also need the images included in the document and (usually) the fonts used.

Find out more: “Please send us the original files!”

Content Management System / CMS

A Content Management System is a piece of software that allows users to manage and publish content on your website. In the ‘back end’ of your website, pages are actually written in HTML, JavaScript, and CSS programming languages. Without a CMS you would have to know these languages, and how to write code. A CMS allows we ordinary mortals to build a website and create pages without needing to code. (If you are working with a coder then they might prefer you to use a developer-friendly CMS.)

As of 2023, the most popular CMSs on the market are WordPress, HubSpot, Joomla, and Drupal. If you are working in eCommerce, WooCommerce is the popular eCommerce CMS worldwide, and Shopify also supports in-store sales efficiently.

When the time comes to localise your website, your CMS can be integrated with a Translation Management System (TMS) and CAT tools to enable continuous localisation.

Application Programming Interface / API

An API is a “connector” that a piece of software creates for other pieces of software, so that they are able to communicate with each other. Just as humans interact with software using a User Interface (UI), machines use an API. API integration allows two applications to “talk” to each other (via their APIs) without any human interference! In software and website localisation, APIs allow localisation engineers to configure automated or continuous localisation workflows or develop custom scripts for translation management systems and CAT tools.

High-performing businesses, with dynamic websites, keep data in sync, enhance productivity, and drive revenue using API integration. QuickSilver’s integrated API connects your CMS with your translation service, to provide seamless data flow between your webmaster and your live translated sites. 

Find out more: Website Localisation » API Integration


Localisation is the procedure for adapting your messaging or product, to suit a new market. This may be simply translating your content into the language of the target market; or it could be adapting a message to suit a particular culture, group or country. For example, avoiding a joke, or expression, that might be culturally insensitive in the target language. In other words, localisation addresses and adapts for perceived differences in the market.

There are two senses in which the term “localisation” is commonly used. The first one includes, but is broader than, translation: in that it also involves adapting the message to a local context. For example avoiding the use of images or references that might be culturally sensitive. For this process, we also use the the term transcreation.

In the second, and more practical, sense, “localisation” refers to translating in tech-heavy domains, such as software, video games, or eCommerce sites. In this sense, it also includes the “adjacent” areas such as connecting source- and target-language repositories to a CAT tool or a TMS, making format conversions, and so on.

Continuous localisation

A process in which each new piece of original content in a company’s CMS is automatically submitted for translation. Once the translation is completed, it is automatically reinserted back into the CMS. Continuous localisation is usually implemented via APIs or pre-built integrations. It is ideal (and necessary) if you want to keep your multilingual website dynamic with regular updates.


In a specific, localisation-related sense, an “integration” refers to a piece of software or a script that connects various parts of the localisation process. For example, you might integrate by creating a direct connection between your CMS and your translation agency.

Localisation team

A team within a company that deals specifically with translating and localising its content into one or several languages. It may include one or several translators, a translation project manager, brand manager, a localisation engineer, a language quality assurance person, and other roles.

Find out more: Before you Start the Localisation Process

Language technology

Any technology aimed at facilitating and/or automating some part of the language industry. Examples include translation platforms, CAT tools, translation management systems, machine translation engines, and language teaching apps.

Software localisation

Essentially, this is localising the ‘back end’ of your website. It deals with computer software and has some peculiar challenges such as the heavy use of placeholders, character limits, plurals and genders, and sometimes lack of context. Software localisation often requires continuous localisation practices.

Website localisation

As the name suggests, this is a form of localisation that deals specifically with websites. Although it shares many similar properties with other forms of localisation such as software, mobile apps, or video game localisation; it involves specific features that require special approaches such as the heavy use of CMS integrations, frequent updates, or a higher-than-usual number of target languages.

How we can help you

If you don’t want to learn the whole gamut of new (and ever evolving) translation and localisation terms, we can help! As well as a comprehensive range of translation services, including specialised translation, in any language combination; QuickSilver Translate offers streamlined web localisation services, transcreation and editing and copywriting. In the modern globalised world, your content is the face of your business, and localisation makes it a friendly one for the new market.

Contact us for a free consultation, or a quote

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