Due to the relatively recent growth of this field, it has become necessary to agree terms within the industry in respect to key processes: Localisation, Internationalisation, Globalisation and Translation.

Understanding these terms can sometimes cause initial confusion to newcomers, particularly since 'localisation' is often used as a generic reference, hence omitting its context within the broader scheme.

In an effort to reduce these lengthy terms, most professionals and companies use the acronym GILT (Globalisation, Internationalisation, Localisation and Translation) to refer to the whole industry. Abbreviations stating the number of letters in the words are also very common: g11n, i18n, l10n, t9n.

What is the meaning of these terms and, consequently, of GILT? Let's start backwards, from the T.


In this context, translation refers to the task of producing texts in other languages, as opposed to the broader process of localisation.

The translation tasks carried out under the localisation umbrella often differ from standard translation tasks. They usually:

  • Involve oversight of technical elements
  • Have different objectives to those of standard translation projects
  • Both describe the product, whilst simultaneously forming a part of it
  • Come in a number of different formats
  • Require specialised software
  • Are essential to the accurate function of the product (as an example, a single mistranslation during the translation of programming codes could have significant ramifications on the respective software)

Ideally therefore, the translation element of a localisation project should be carried out by specialised translators. This is not usually the case however.


"[Localisation] describes the process of adapting a product to a specific international language or culture so that it seems natural to that particular region, which includes translation, but goes much farther.

True localisation considers language, culture, customs, technical and other characteristics of the target locale. While it frequently involves changes to the software writing system, it may also change the keyboard usage, fonts, date, time and monetary formats. Graphics, colours and sound effects also need to be culturally appropriate." (The Globalization and Localization Association)

As such, this process involves preparation of respective texts, transferring these texts into the corresponding source material, adapting the source materials to the requirements of the target culture and then testing the target materials for accuracy.


Internationalisation is often confused with localisation, but in fact the process is almost totally opposite. Internationalisation involves the design of a product in such a way that the project can be localised easily.

By ensuring that the product is as neutral as possible, both in respect to linguist and technical elements, the product can be easily modified to ensure that
it is relevant to specific local environments. Forthis reason, Internationalisation figures before Localisation within the GILT model.

Internationalisation delivers a number of benefits, including but not limited to:

  • Reduced time and costs in respect to localisation as content is neutral and 'localisation ready'
  • Presentation of a single source code for all applications enabling far more simple maintenance
  • Improved quality and code architecture
  • Simultaneous shipment and launch of the product across a number of countries

A good example of Internationalisation is software creation, whereby the source text is sent to the translators without any kind of formatting or layout or any extra information. The purpose is to have very small-sized files, which can be easily edited, so that subsequently they can be localized.


Although Globalisation may sometimes be used as a synonym for Internationalisation, the process is more complex and typically incorporates the underlying business decisions and activities which are required to make an organisation or product truly international. These activities may include: revision of management procedures and business processes, creation of new support resources and adaptation of marketing tools.