Globalization, Internationalization, Localization, Translation: Work Your GILT Out

In the world of translation, there are a number of unique processes at play. There is translation itself, of course, but also globalization, internationalization, and localization (GILT). While the latter three in particular may appear interchangeable, it is important to understand what sets them all apart.

Localization & Translation

Translation is simply taking a text in one language and translating it into another. This is as simple a definition as one would expect. But oftentimes, a direct literal translation is not the most useful thing. A given text will likely contain a multitude of culturally specific characteristics (consider idioms or units of measure, for example) which make little to no sense in the context of the new language. Different linguistic communities have their own “identities” and conventions, so to speak. This is where localization comes in.

Localization is the process by which those unique characteristics are adapted from one language to the next. In narrative translation, rather than giving a direct literal translation of an idiomatic expression, for example, the professional translator will provide an equivalent idiom in the target language which conveys the same general idea as the original. But this goes beyond that sort of context.

Webpage localization might involve changing currencies, as well as date and time formatting. Anything that makes it easier for the content to be more naturally understood in a new cultural-linguistic setting.

Localization, then, is adapting content to a specific market. This is crucial for a business when trying to reach a new target audience, as it is important to not alienate clients.

And it isn’t just webpages that require localization. More technical content or products, such as software, also require it in order to remain functional across languages.

Internationalization vs. Globalization

Before localization can take place, some companies may employ internationalization. In the simplest terms, this means setting up content in a way which avoids that culture-specific content. This works as a way to streamline the translation process, minimizing localization, and even potentially removing the need for it in the first place. And even when localization is still needed, it mitigates the need for any extensive redesigns, functioning as a useful cost-saving step.

While localization happens post launch, as a part of the translation process, internationalization is incorporated into the creation and setup of the content itself. This can mean using diagrams in place of region-specific terminology, or simply ensuring that the content does not contain any material which may be culturally sensitive.

Globalization in turn is an umbrella term, encompassing both internationalization and localization. Broadly speaking, it is a strategic action aimed at making content “globally available.” This becomes increasingly more important as it becomes necessary to present one’s content to a wider audience. As such, each rung of globalization is equally important.

As with localization, it is also important to consider the specific sort of globalization service needed.

Product globalization refers to the modification of a particular product through its user interfaces, technical documents, online help content, legal agreements, etc. This typically involves highly complex material.

By contrast, content globalization refers specifically to the adaptation of certain content for use across languages. This could include such things as online content, e-learning modules, packaging, technical documentation, and user interface text. Any sort of user-facing elements.


Globalization, internationalization, localization, and translation are all interconnected aspects of the process of bringing content to a wider audience. By focusing on each of these aspects in turn, companies and individuals who are looking for translation services can make sure that they are able to get the most out of it, saving on both time and cost.

As a translation company made up by a team of language experts from around the world, Trusted Translations is equipped to handle each important aspect of that process. This includes content globalization as well as any specific localization service that may be required. Trusted Translations can help you to determine which service you need and can provide an effective product with a reliable turnaround time.

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