Language Services

Overview of essential language services: translation, localization, globalization, internationalization, interpreting and more

Below you will find definitions for some of the core language and translation services services provided by GALA members.

In addition to what is listed below, GALA members provide language services like subtitling, dubbing, captioning, multilingual desktop publishing, QA testing, transcreation, consulting, voiceover, and multilingual content development, to name a few.


Translation (also referred to as t9n) is the rendering meaning from one language into another language. The purpose of translation is to convey the original intent of a message, taking into account cultural and regional differences between languages.

Translation has been used by humans for millennia, beginning with the appearance of written language. Modern-day translators use sophisticated tools and technologies to accomplish their work and rely heavily on software to simplify and streamline their tasks.

Organizations around the world, encompassing a multitude of sectors, missions, and mandates, rely on translation services for content as diverse as product labels, technical documentation, user reviews, marketing materials, annual reports, and much, much more.

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Localization (also referred to as l10n) is the process of adapting a product or service to a specific locale. Translation is only one of several elements in the localization process. In addition to translation, the localization process may also include:
•    Adapting design and layout to properly display translated text in the language of the locale
•    Adapting sorting functions to the alphabetical order of a specific locale
•    Changing formats for date and time, addresses, numbers, currencies, etc. for specific target locales 
•    Adapting graphics to suit the expectations and tastes of a target locale
•    Modifying content to suit the tastes and consumption habits of a target locale

The aim of localization is to give a product or service the look and feel of having been created specifically for a target market, no matter their language, cultural preferences, or location.


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Interpreting is the facilitation of spoken or signed language communication between users of different languages. Interpreters are employed in a multitude of settings including courts, schools, medical facilities, social services, as well as national and international institutions. Advances in interpreting technologies are facilitating more and more virtual and remote interpretation scenarios, making interpretation achievable in new settings and scenarios. In the global language industry, there are three primary modes of interpreting: simultaneous, consecutive, and chuchotage.
Simultaneous interpreting
This is used at conferences and European Parliament sessions. The interpreter listens and translates what is spoken almost simultaneously. This makes the speech more fluid.
Consecutive interpreting
This is used for small groups. The speaker speaks and then remains silent, giving the interpreter time to translate. The two voices alternate, taking longer. This kind of interpretation is needed for official messages to avoid covering the speaker's voice.
It is for one or two people who speak different languages. The interpreter sits next to the listener and whispers what is said in the other language.

Interpreting is performed face-to-face and remotely. Remote interpreting requires technological platforms to facilitate telephonic and video multilingual communication.

In the context of the global language industry, globalization (also referred to as g11n), refers to a broad range of engineering and business processes to prepare and launch products and services internationally. Globalization is an all-encompassing concept that includes engineering activities like internationalization and localization, but also business development activities like product management, market research, and compliance with international trade policies and laws in different countries. 

Professionals in the global language industry are most often focused on internationalization and localization, as well as the processes and tools that support these activities. They ensure that organizations around the world are prepared to carry out their missions by reaching the right audiences in the right languages and providing them with an experience that feels local to them.

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Internationalization (also referred to as i18n) is the design of software code bases and resources that allow an application to be adapted to various locales without requiring changes to the code base. Internationalization is the discipline that sits at the intersection between software engineering and localization and is also sometimes referred to as localizability. Internationalization can save significant expense, time, and headaches for businesses planning to take their products and applications to an international audience.

Internationalization is a critical business process for any company producing multilingual products. It is important to consider the various markets a product will target and make the necessary adaptations early in product design and development. Many users have experienced the frustration of non-internationalized products — forms not having the currency they expect, fields or text boxes being too large or too small for their contents ... and countless other irritations big and small. For businesses and products to succeed internationally, i18n is critical.

When done right, i18n makes subsequent localization tasks much easier, faster, and less expensive. Internationalization responsibilities rest primarily on the shoulders of development teams and software engineers, but some full-service localization providers offer i18n consulting services as well.

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Audiovisual translation can be defined as the activity of translating audiovisual content, such as films, television series, documentaries, commercials, and popular videos, so that it can be fully understood and appreciated by audiences in different languages. It differs from the translation of general or specialized texts in that it requires the consideration of visual and aural elements in addition to the written text in order to preserve the artistic and communicative integrity of the original work.

There are different types of audiovisual translation.


Subtitling is a common form of audiovisual translation in which the translated text is displayed on the screen, superimposed on the video, or placed at the bottom of the video. This method allows viewers to read dialogue in the target language while retaining the original audio. Subtitling requires synthesis and timing skills to ensure that the text matches the image on the screen.


Similar to subtitling, captioning translates the dialogue and essential audio cues, but additionally includes sound effects, speaker identification, and other non-speech elements for a more comprehensive viewing experience. Captions are particularly useful for viewers who are deaf or hard of hearing.

Captions can be closed or open. With open captions, the text in the video that can't be turned off. With closed captions, viewers can turn the text in the video on or off.


Dubbing is another technique widely used in audiovisual translation. In this mode, the dialog of the original work is replaced by new voice recordings in the target language, which are superimposed on the original sound. Dubbing allows the audience to enjoy the work without having to read subtitles, but it requires specific skills to adapt the dialogue to the lip movements of the actors and to preserve the artistic integrity of the original work.

Voice-over (VO)

Voice-over refers to tThe addition of a narrated voice track in the target language on top of the original soundtrack of an audiovisual program. Voice-over can be used for narration, translation (sometimes layered over the original dialogue), or to add commentary.


Respeaking is the process of listening to an audio source (live event, recording) and repeating it clearly and accurately into speech recognition software. This software then transcribes the respeaker's audio into captions displayed on screen. Respeakers often add punctuation and identify speakers to enhance clarity.


Trascription refers to the process of converting spoken language or audio recordings into a written text format. It's like taking dictation and capturing the content word-for-word.